The Annotated Emma by Jane Austen, Novel (Anchor Books)  » Books  »
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  • The problem is, the promising match turns out to be a mismatch
  • I think of it more as a corrective, a parable of social manners than a happy fairytale, though certainly satirical
  • If you don’t like to be overwhelmed by plenty of information, or misinformation, I would not recommend this edition


    • by RiccaBookish

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      I was very much entertained by Jane Austen’s Pre-Victorian world as introduced by Pride and Prejudice. I couldn’t leave too soon while enjoyment was palpably felt, and so I kept up with her next novel Emma. It is said to be her best novel, at least according to critics. Before taking a stab at it, I searched for the most thorough edition of Emma, because I remember on reading P&P I had difficulty understanding many classical terms (read the Collins’ Glossary of Classic literature) despite the heavily annotated Penguin edition I was already using. I don’t want to be switching from one edition to another. Anchor (an imprint of Random House) publishes annotated versions of classic novels. It is common practice for publishers to distinguish their books by adding “annotated” before the title. I read this

      edition with all the endnotes and encyclopedic information it contains. This is going to be a review on the novel itself; but besides I’ll be commenting here and there on the present edition.

      The novel is interestingly different featuring a wealthy heroine running an estate. Emma is beautiful, rich, powerful, intelligent, and of prominent social status – all the paradoxes of a typical Austen heroine. Elizabeth Bennet was not a “handsome” woman nor were the Dashwood sisters wealthy. And none of them possessed social clout as Emma. If you’ve seen the movie “Clueless” you’re probably already familiar to the story: Emma the matchmaker sets up a potential partner for her friend Harriet and contrives many such occasions for gentlemen to notice her pretty little friend. The problem is, the promising match turns out to be a mismatch. A gentleman is more than eager to play Emma’s games only to solicit her affection, not Harriet’s. Emma receives a shock from committing a grave error of judgment.

      I approached the text with a skeptical eye, as there seemed a particularity to the speech of many characters. I was looking for clues veiled in their conversations. Jane Austen is a clever woman and her characters seem to speak a language so mannered and so out of this world. Of course language at the time was spoken differently. I complained on reading P&P that the author had used formal language to an excess. Austen was trying to prove herself a gifted writer, technically, in Emma, and this makes her sometimes hard to pin down. I guess I succeeded in doing justice to the book by reading it ...


      • The Annotated Emma by Jane Austen, Novel (Anchor Books)
      closely, but less enjoyably so. P&P remains my favorite.

      This edition is stuffed with so much information, from pictures of carriages to Regency costumes. The pictures allow the reader to take a pause. But the annotations do get tiresome, and I hate riffling back and forth as the explanatory notes are placed at the end of the book. It also takes away the momentum and becomes obtrusive. I just ignore the annotations except when I need more information (others are explicit plot spoilers). At every turn you’ll come across a number indicating a corresponding endnote. Some of the annotations are at fault and not very useful, like listening to a commentator’s unsolicited opinion (David Shapard is the editor).

      I also noted some irregularities on the punctuation which should be attributed to the author and not to the present

      edition. Jane Austen has a peculiar way of applying quotations to reported speech or free indirect discourse. So don’t be confused by the pronouns if the character starts to refer to him or herself in the third person.

      The novel doesn’t deviate much from the casual goings-on of English society, except an excursion to “Box Hill” where Emma’s faults reach a climax. The reformation of the principal character indicates the moral of the story. I think of it more as a corrective, a parable of social manners than a happy fairytale, though certainly satirical. If you don’t like to be overwhelmed by plenty of information, or misinformation, I would not recommend this edition. This won’t be a bad choice if you like non-idiomatic, hard facts to accompany your reading. Emma is a time-consuming read, but one well worth it.




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tuliy says :

no story of the book

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The review was published as it's written by reviewer in July, 2014. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 1729071636070431/k2311a0729/7.29.14
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