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Book Title: Persuasion|
The author of the book: Jane Austen
Edition: Penguin Books
The size of the: 11.68 MB
City - Country: No data
Date of issue: April 26th 2012
ISBN 13: 9780141198835
Format files: PDF
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Reader ratings: 5.4
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One of the major sources of contention and strife in my marriage is the disagreement between my wife and me over what is the best Jane Austen novel (yes, we are both more than a bit geekish in our love of words and literature--our second biggest ongoing quarrel is about the merits of the serial comma).
For my money, there are three of Austen's six finished novels that one can make a good argument for being her "best":
"Pride and Prejudice" (the popular choice, and my wife's)
"Emma" (the educated choice--most lit profs go with this one)
"Persuasion" (the truly refined choice)
Harrold Bloom in "The Western Canon" calls it perhaps a "perfect novel," and while I disagree with some of his interpretations of the characters (yes, blasphemy, I know), I wholeheartedly concur with his overal assessment.
While all of Austen's novels are generally comic, "Persuasion" is the most nuanced. It's been described as "autumnal" and that word suits it. There's a bittersweetness to it that you just don't get in Austen's other work.
The novel it comes closest to in terms of character and plot is probably one of her earliest novels "Sense and Sensibility." Like Eleanor in that novel, Anne is older and more mature than the typical Austen heroine. In fact, she's dangerously close to being "over the hill" at the age of 27(!). Love has passed her by, apparently.
But unlike Eleanor, who one always feels will muddle through even if she ends up disappointed in affairs of the heart, there's something more dramatically at stake with Anne. She is in great danger of ceasing to exist, not physically, but socially. When we meet her, she's barely there at all. Although a woman of strong feelings, she is ignored and literally overlooked by most of the other characters. In the universe of Austen's novels, the individual doesn't truly exist unless connected with the social world, and while Anne has a stoic strength, we understand that she is in some senses doomed if things don't change for her.
This is where we see what the mature Austen can do with a character type that she couldn't when she was younger.
This edition also has the original ending of the novel included as an appendix, which gives us a rare and fascinating look in to Austen as a technical artist.
I read this novel as an undergraduate, and have reread it several times since. I even took the novel with me to Bath on a trip to England, and spent a wonderful summer evening reading it while sitting in Sidney Gardens, across the street from one of the homes Austen lived in during her time in Bath, listening to Mozart's Piano Concerto #27. It's one of my favorite memories.
More than any other of her novels, "Persuasion" shows how Austen dealt with profound existential questions within the confines of her deceptively limited setting and cast of characters. Those who think Austen is simply a highbrow precursor to contemporary romance novels or social comedies are missing the colossal depth of thought that is beneath the surface of any of her novels, this one most of all.
Austen is nearly unique in the history of the novel for the consistency of her excellence. While most novelists have a clear masterpiece that stands out among their work, and usually a fairly sizable number of works that are adequate but not enduring, all of Austen's novels stand up to repeated readings and deserve a wide audience among today's readers.
Having said that, "Persuasion" is simply the best of the best.
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Read information about the authorJane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics.
Austen lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry. She was educated primarily by her father and older brothers as well as through her own reading. The steadfast support of her family was critical to her development as a professional writer. Her artistic apprenticeship lasted from her teenage years until she was about 35 years old. During this period, she experimented with various literary forms, including the epistolary novel which she tried then abandoned, and wrote and extensively revised three major novels and began a fourth. From 1811 until 1816, with the release of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began a third, which was eventually titled Sanditon, but died before completing it.
Austen's works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century realism. Her plots, though fundamentally comic, highlight the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security. Her work brought her little personal fame and only a few positive reviews during her lifetime, but the publication in 1869 of her nephew's A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced her to a wider public, and by the 1940s she had become widely accepted in academia as a great English writer. The second half of the 20th century saw a proliferation of Austen scholarship and the emergence of a Janeite fan culture.
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