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Unfinished Novels: Lady Susan, Sanditon, The Watsons By Jane Austen
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This book contains three unfinished novels of English novelist Jane Austen. In Sanditon, Austen explored her interest in the verbal construction of a society by means of a town – and a set of... More > families – that is still in the process of being formed. Austen began work on the novel in January 1817 and abandoned it on 18 March 1817. The manuscript for Sanditon was originally titled "The Brothers," likely after the Parker brothers in the story. After her death, her family renamed it "Sanditon." "The Watsons" - she began writing it circa 1803 and probably abandoned it after her father's death in January 1805. It has five chapters, and is less than 18,000 words long. Lady Susan is a short epistolary novel by Jane Austen, possibly written in 1794 but not published until 1871.< Less
Lady Susan By Jane Austen
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This epistolary novel, an early complete work that the author never submitted for publication, describes the schemes of the main character—the widowed Lady Susan—as she seeks a new... More > husband for herself, and one for her daughter. Although the theme, together with the focus on character study and moral issues, is close to Austen's published work (Sense and Sensibility was also originally written in the epistolary form), its outlook is very different, and the heroine has few parallels in 19th-century literature. Lady Susan is a selfish, attractive woman, who tries to trap the best possible husband while maintaining a relationship with a married man. She subverts all the standards of the romantic novel: she has an active role, she's not only beautiful but intelligent and witty, and her suitors are significantly younger than she is. Although the ending includes a traditional reward for morality, Lady Susan herself is treated much more mildly than the adulteress in Mansfield Park, who is severely punished.< Less
Love and Friendship: And Other Early Works by Jane Austen By Jane Austen
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Written in epistolary form, like her later unpublished novella, Lady Susan, Love and Freindship is thought to be one of the tales she wrote for the amusement of her family. The installments, written... More > as letters from the heroine Laura, to Marianne, the daughter of her friend, Isabel, "La Comtesse de Feuillide", may have come about as nightly readings by the young Jane in the Austen home. Love and Freindship (the misspelling is one of many in the story) is clearly a parody of romantic novels Austen read as a child. This is clear even from the subtitle, "Deceived in Freindship and Betrayed in Love", which completely undercuts the title. In form, it resembles a fairy tale as much as anything else, featuring wild coincidences and turns of fortune, but Austen is determined to lampoon the conventions of romantic stories, right down to the utter failure of romantic fainting spells, which always turn out badly for the female characters.< Less
Persuasion By Jane Austen
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Persuasion is widely appreciated as a moving love story despite what has been labelled as a simple plot, and exemplifies Austen's acclaimed wit and ironic narrative style. Austen wrote Persuasion in... More > a hurry, during the onset of the illness from which she eventually died; as a result, the novel is both shorter and arguably less polished than Mansfield Park and Emma, and was not subject to the usual pattern of careful retrospective revision. Although the impact of Austen's failing health at the time of writing this novel cannot be overlooked, the novel is strikingly original in several ways. Persuasion is the first of Austen's novels to feature as the central character a woman who, by the standards of the time, is well past the first bloom of youth; biographer Claire Tomalin characterizes the book as Austen's "present to herself, to Miss Sharp, to Cassandra, to Martha Lloyd . . . to all women who had lost their chance in life and would never enjoy a second spring.< Less
Northanger Abbey By Jane Austen
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Northanger Abbey is fundamentally a parody of Gothic fiction. Austen turns the conventions of eighteenth-century novels on their head, by making her heroine a plain and undistinguished girl from a... More > middle-class family, allowing the heroine to fall in love with the hero before he has a serious thought of her, and exposing the heroine's romantic fears and curiosities as groundless. Austen biographer Claire Tomalin speculates that Austen may have begun this book, which is more explicitly comic than her other works and contains many literary allusions that her parents and siblings would have enjoyed, as a family entertainment—a piece of lighthearted parody to be read aloud by the fireside. Northanger Abbey exposes the difference between reality and fantasy and questions who can be trusted as a true companion and who might actually be a shallow, false friend. It is considered to be the most light-hearted of her novels.< Less
Sense and Sensibility By Jane Austen
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Austen wrote the first draft of Elinor and Marianne (later retitled Sense and Sensibility) in epistolary form, when she was about 19 years old. While she had written a great deal of short fiction in... More > her teens, Elinor and Marianne was her first full-length novel. The plot revolves around a contrast between Elinor's sense and Marianne's emotionalism; the two sisters may have been loosely based on the author and her beloved elder sister, Cassandra, with Austen casting Cassandra as the restrained and well-judging sister and herself as the emotional one. Austen clearly intended to vindicate Elinor's sense and self-restraint, and on the simplest level, the novel may be read as a parody of the full-blown romanticism and sensibility...< Less
Emma By Jane Austen
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Emma Woodhouse is the first Austen heroine with no financial concerns, which, she declares to the naïve Miss Smith, is the reason that she has no inducement to marry. This is a great departure... More > from Austen's other novels, in which the quest for marriage and financial security are often important themes in the stories. Emma's ample financial resources put her in a much more priviledged position than the heroines of Austen's earlier works, such as Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. Jane Fairfax's prospects, in contrast, are bleak. In contrast to other Austen heroines Emma seems immune to romantic attraction. Unlike Marianne Dashwood, who is attracted to the wrong man before she settles on the right one, Emma shows no romantic interest in the men she meets...< Less
Mansfield Park By Jane Austen
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Mansfield Park is the most controversial of Austen's major novels. Regency critics praised the novel's wholesome morality, but many modern readers find Fanny's timidity and disapproval of the... More > theatricals difficult to sympathise with and reject the idea (made explicit in the final chapter) that she is a better person for the relative privations of her childhood. Jane Austen's own mother thought Fanny "insipid", and many other readers have found her priggish and unlikeable. Other critics point out that she is a complex personality, perceptive yet given to wishful thinking, and that she shows courage and grows in self-esteem during the latter part of the story. Austen biographer Claire Tomalin, who is generally rather critical of Fanny, argues that "it is in rejecting obedience in favour of the higher dictate of remaining true to her own conscience that Fanny rises to her moment of heroism.< Less
Pride and Prejudice By Jane Austen
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Though the story is set at the turn of the 19th century, it retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of 'most loved books' such as The Big Read. It has become one of... More > the most popular novels in English literature, and receives considerable attention from literary scholars. Modern interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen's memorable characters or themes. To date, the book has sold some 20 million copies worldwide.< Less