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Catharine and Other Writings (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Jane Austen , Margaret Anne Doody , Douglas Murray
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Catharine and Other Writings (Oxford World's Classics) Catharine and Other Writings (Oxford World's Classics) 3.8 out of 5 stars (4)
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Book Description

18 Jun 1998 Oxford World's Classics
Jane Austen began writing in her early teens, and filled three notebooks with her fiction. Her earliest work reflects her interest in the novel as a genre; in brilliant short pieces she plays with plots, stock characters, diction, and style, developing a sense of form at a remarkably early age. The characters of these stories have a jaunty and never-failing devotion to themselves. They perpetually lie, cheat, steal - and occasionally commit murder. Throughout these short or unfinished pieces, Austen exhibits her sense of the preposterous in life and fiction with tough-mindedness and robust humour. Alice, the mock-heroine of Jack and Alice has `many rare and charming qualities, but Sobriety is not one of them'. In her later published fiction, Austen had learned to take demands for propriety seriously, reining in whatever might be thought boisterous or coarse. Here we see Jane Austen without her inhibitions. In addition to prose fiction and prayers, this collection also contains many of Jane Austen's poems, written to amuse or console friends, and rarely reprinted. The texts have been compared with the manuscripts and edited to give a number of new readings. The notes recreate the texture of daily life in Jane Austen's age, and demonstrate her knowledge of the fiction of her time. The introduction by Margaret Anne Doody sets the writings within the context of Jane Austen's life and literary career.


Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (18 Jun 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192835211
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192835215
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,368,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction set among the gentry have earned her a place as one of the most widely read and most beloved writers in English literature.

Jane Austen was born in Steventon rectory on 16th December 1775. Her family later moved to Bath and then to Chawton in Hampshire. She wrote from a young age and Pride and Prejudice was begun when she was twenty-two years old. It was originally called First Impressions. It was initially rejected by the published she submitted it too and eventually published in 1813 after much revision.

All four of her novels - Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815) published in her lifetime were published anonymously. Jane Austen died on 18th July 1817. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion (both 1817) were published posthumously.

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"An excellent collection and some of the these items have been hard to find in print."--Edna L. Steeves, University of Rhode Island

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
"Beware of swoons, Dear Laura ... A frenzy fit is not one quarter so pernicious; it is an exercise to the Body and if not too violent, is, I dare say, conducive to Health in its consequences -- Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint -" Letter 14, Laura to Marianne, Love and Freindship

Jane Austen grew up in the perfect fertile environment for a writer. Her family was highly educated and passionate readers, including novels which were considered by some in the late 18th-century as unworthy. Educated predominately at home, her father had an extensive library of classics and contemporary editions at her disposal. In her early teens, she began writing comical and imaginative stories for her family and close friends as entertainments and transcribing them into three volumes that would later be known as her Juvenilia. The plots and characters of these short stories are filled with unguarded satire, comical burlesque and "splendid nonsense"; -- shrewd parodies of contemporary novels, historical figures and even her own family engaged in unprincipled deeds: lying, cheating and occasionally murder. Described by her father as "Effusions of Fancy by a very Young Lady Consisting of Tales in a Style entirely new" they represent the creative beginnings of a clever and perceptive mind whose skill at keen observation of social maneuverings and the importance of wealth, so valued in her mature works, are apparent from the early beginnings.

If you have consumed all of Austen's major and minor novels, this reissue by Oxford University Press of their 1998 edition is an enticing treasure. In Catharine and Other Writings, we are introduced not only to a writer in the making, but a collection of prayers, poems and unfinished fragments of novels written in maturity and rarely reprinted.
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3.0 out of 5 stars For help with Austen Module. 21 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you have read the Austen novels then this is the next read that should be on your list, it's interesting to see the development of the writing done by Austen. It is also a nice break away fro her lengthy novels yet still allows for enjoyment from the author, they are nice to read and can be read quickly if needs be.
Out of all of Austen juvenilia the most well known pieces are: Catharine, which is actually an interesting yet unfinished novel and Love and Freindship, which is actually told through a series of well written letters. Love and Freindship has to be my favourite from this little collection as I found it amusing and engaging, I thought it was a fantastic parody of the over-sensibility which were found in many of the books written at the time. It also played a large part in the Austen module I studied at university. Well worth a read!
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Format:Paperback
This Oxford World's Classics edition contains the contents of three notebooks Jane Austen filled with writings as teenager (commonly known as her juvenilia) as well as some verses and prayers found amongst her later writings and the Plan of a Novel, according to hints from various quarters.

The most well known of her juvenilia pieces are Catharine, or the Bower which is an unfinished novel and Love and Freindship (sic), a novel told through a series of letters. Love and Freindship was my favourite of this collection; I thought it was outrageously funny and a brilliant parody of the over-sensibility shown by heroines in books at the time.

Overall, I was struck by two things whilst reading these early works. Firstly, that Jane Austen was not just incredibly well read as a teenager (which would be a not inconsiderable achievement on its own) but also how well she understood the structure of novels at such a young age to be able to turn that structure on its head in her own writings and what an accomplishment that was.

Secondly, how different these early pieces feel compared to her later writings. I saw someone comment somewhere that Jane Austen's juvenilia reads like Monty Python and I think that sums up the surreal humour of these early works very well. When I say they are outrageously funny that's because the characters in these stories so often do behave outrageously: they lie, cheat and steal, sometimes murder and any marriages that take place in the stories are not done legally. These are stories written to be read aloud to friends and family, not to be published, and they are often shocking; the Austen family must have had a very well-developed sense of humour to allow and encourage their teenage daughter to write such things.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New one 13 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I didn't know that book exists. I recommended it to all Jane Austen's followers. Interesting to know how people lived in that days.
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Amazon.com: 3.1 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
75 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oh! The Joy of Jane Austen! 10 April 2000
By A. Bentley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For those who have loved Jane Austen's more mature writings, this book is a must read. Compiled from Jane Austen's childhood notebooks, these stories are full of unmasked satire, and endless jokes, aimed to point out the absurdity of the novels of the authores' day. In her more mature years, Jane Austen learned to mask her satire and calm her wit. Such knowledge undoubtably made for better writing, but there is a great deal of enjoyment to be had from a younger pen, the open satire of a girl who was wise enough to see the folly of her times. Catharine and Other Stories will not make wise, or generally inspire, but it is delightful comic relief, as well as a window into the vivacious mind of Jane Austen, the girl.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Author in Training.... 4 July 2008
By D. S. Thurlow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Compared to Jane Austen's mature and much polished novels, the stories contained in "Catharine and Other Works" are clearly those of an author in training. These stories, often known as the "Juvenalia", clearly show a promising young writer working out her technique, generally in short prose apparently intended for the entertainment of her immediate family.

"Catharine", dated to August 1792 and dedicated to Jane's sister Cassandra, is a promising indication of Austen's future greatness. It concerns a young orphaned woman being raised by a very strict and hypochrondriac aunt. Catharine is within a short period of time thrown in company with a much wealthier woman her own age and then with the woman's handsome and extremely charming brother. Catharine and the brother make a bit of splash at a ball, scandalizing the aunt and leading to the banishment of the young man, leaving behind a budding relationship ripe with dramatic possibilities. "Catharine" clearly foreshadows Austen's mature style. The dialogue is quite good, and numerous plot threads are set in motion for later resolution. The heroine is clearly a forerunner to later characters such as Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse, while Edward Stanley, the intended hero, bears more than passing resemblance to Henry Crawford of "Mansfield Park" and Frank Churchill of "Emma."

"Catharine and Other Works" is highly recommended to fans of Jane Austen, both for their inherent entertainment value and for the opportunity to see the author in training.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Splendid nonsense! A youthful writer in the making 30 May 2009
By Laurel Ann - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Beware of swoons, Dear Laura ... A frenzy fit is not one quarter so pernicious; it is an exercise to the Body and if not too violent, is, I dare say, conducive to Health in its consequences -- Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint -" Letter 14, Laura to Marianne, Love and Freindship

Jane Austen grew up in the perfect fertile environment for a writer. Her family was highly educated and passionate readers, including novels which were considered by some in the late 18th-century as unworthy. Educated predominately at home, her father had an extensive library of classics and contemporary editions at her disposal. In her early teens, she began writing comical and imaginative stories for her family and close friends as entertainments and transcribing them into three volumes that would later be known as her Juvenilia. The plots and characters of these short stories are filled with unguarded satire, comical burlesque and "splendid nonsense"; -- shrewd parodies of contemporary novels, historical figures and even her own family engaged in unprincipled deeds: lying, cheating and occasionally murder. Described by her father as "Effusions of Fancy by a very Young Lady Consisting of Tales in a Style entirely new" they represent the creative beginnings of a clever and perceptive mind whose skill at keen observation of social maneuverings and the importance of wealth, so valued in her mature works, are apparent from the early beginnings.

If you have consumed all of Austen's major and minor novels, this reissue by Oxford University Press of their 1998 edition is an enticing treasure. In Catharine and Other Writings, we are introduced not only to a writer in the making, but a collection of prayers, poems and unfinished fragments of novels written in maturity and rarely reprinted. As with the other Oxford editions of Jane Austen's works reissued in the past year, this edition contains excellent supplemental material: a short biography of Austen, notes on the text, a select bibliography, a chronology of Austen's life, textural notes, insightful explanatory notes and a superb introduction by prominent Austen scholar Margaret Anne Doody that details the inspiration from her family and her environment that influenced and formed Austen's creative mind.

"Jane Austen was not a child as a writer when she wrote these early pieces. She possessed a sophistication rarely matched in viewing and using her own medium. She not only understood the Novel, she took the Novel apart, as one might take apart a clock, to see how it works - and put it back together, but it was no longer the same clock. Her genius at an early age is as awe-inspiring as Mozart's." pp xxxv

What I found so engaging in this collection was the lightness and comical devil-may-care freeness in Austen's youthful approach. It was like a rush of endorphin to a dour mood, taking you outside of your troubles and elevating you into a magical world of a youthful imaginings and farcical fancy. I have several favorites that I will re-read when I need a laugh, especially Love and Freindship, The Beautiful Cassandra and The History of England. Not all of the works are comical. When Winchester races is a verse written when Austen was mortally ill and dictated from her deathbed to her sister Cassandra three days before her death. It is her final work. A moralistic piece, it resurrects the ghost of St. Swinthin who curses the race goers for their sins of pleasure.

"When once we were buried you think we are gone

But behold me immortal!"

An interesting choice of subject for the last days of her life, and ironic in relation to what acclaim she has garnered since she has gone. Like St. Swinthin, Jane Austen is indeed immortal!

Laurel Ann, Austenprose
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The introduction and notes are most interesting 11 Nov 2008
By amania - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was the last book I chose to go with my Jane Austen "collection" and I found it very good. Some of the early writing is absolutely hilarious. The introduction has a more modern slant and the notes were very helpful to understanding even though many were obvious if you have read other books of this sort.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 20 Jun 2013
By LAJ - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For Jane Austen scholars it might be a good resource. I didn't care for the book, but did not read very much of it.
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