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Selected Letters (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 9 Sep 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (9 Sep 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192801848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192801845
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 2 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,103,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

...astute introduction (Karen Joy Fowler, The Independent)

About the Author

Vivien Jones is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Leeds.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Laurel Ann on 24 July 2009
Format: Paperback
"You deserve a longer letter than this; but it is my unhappy fate seldom to treat people so well as they deserve." Jane Austen, 24 December 1798

Jane Austen's personal correspondence has stirred up controversy since her untimely death in 1817 at age 41. The next year her brother Henry Austen wrote in the `Biographical Notice of the Author' included with the publication of her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion that she "never dispatched a note or a letter unworthy of publication." Years later, a niece Caroline Austen did not agree, "there is nothing in those letters which I have seen that would be acceptable to the public." In comparison to her published works, the letters do dwell upon `little matters' of domestic life in the county, but to the patient reader we begin to understand Austen's life and experiences beyond the minutia and realize through her clever descriptions and acerbic observations how this simple parson's daughter became the author of novels that are so valued and cherished close to 200 years after their publication.

This reissue by Oxford University Press of their 2004 edition of Jane Austen Selected Letters is more than worthy of a second printing. Not only does it include two thirds of the known surviving letters and a thoughtful introduction by scholar Vivien Jones chronicling the history of the letters stewardship with the family, its supplemental material alone makes it an incredible value for the price. As with the other Oxford World's Classics of Austen's major and minor works that have been reissued this past year, it includes a brief biography, notes on the text, a select bibliography, a chronology of Jane Austen's life, and explanatory notes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By cathy earnshaw on 1 Jan 2010
Format: Paperback
The letters of Jane Austen (1775-1817) have traditionally been considered of much less interest than her novels, peppered as they are with domestic events, local gossip & changes in the weather. But, as Vivien Jones shows in her brilliant introduction, there is a "serious humour which underpins her serious gossip" and which has been mistaken by other critics and readers as "heartless wit" (see Carol Houlihan Flynn). "Far from limiting its interest," Jones goes on, "the intensely private but nevertheless anti-confessional nature of Austen's correspondence is paradoxically one of its most revealing features."

What Austen's letters lack in open candour - to be found, for example, in the private correspondence of Charlotte Brontë - they gain in wit. She is brutally funny about a local death: "the Neighbourhood have quite recovered [from] the death of Mrs Rider - so much so, that I think they are rather rejoiced at it now" (to Cassandra, January 1801) and about visitors to Steventon: "I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal" (Christmas 1798). Even when facing death, Austen's wit remains uninjured, telling her niece Fanny Knight that "Sickness is a dangerous Indulgence at my time of life" (March 1817). Almost two-thirds of Austen's correspondence is covered in this volume, including letters to her publishers - in which she often attempts to accelerate the printing process and get a fairer deal for her novels (often without success) - as well as to her friend Martha Lloyd, her brother Frank, the Prince Regent's librarian, and her last will and testament written three months before her death aged 41.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 11 Feb 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a huge fan, reading through Jane Austens letters is a bittersweet experience. Its a very strange sensation to read letters that were supposed to be private, nonetheless I thoroughly enjoyed this collection. Even in a short letter Jane Austen wrote with so much heart, humour and style. To be honest I would enjoy reading a shopping list by this great author, as i am sure she would manage somehow to infuse it with her trademark wit. I got quite upset towards the end when her health was clearly beginning to fail, silly i know as shes been dead nearly 200 years, but i just couldnt help myself. A wonderful collection of letters, a must for any fan.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Nice compact edition with great supplemental material 30 May 2009
By Laurel Ann - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"You deserve a longer letter than this; but it is my unhappy fate seldom to treat people so well as they deserve." Jane Austen, 24 December 1798

Jane Austen's personal correspondence has stirred up controversy since her untimely death in 1817 at age 41. The next year her brother Henry Austen wrote in the `Biographical Notice of the Author' included with the publication of her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion that she "never dispatched a note or a letter unworthy of publication." Years later, a niece Caroline Austen did not agree, "there is nothing in those letters which I have seen that would be acceptable to the public." In comparison to her published works, the letters do dwell upon `little matters' of domestic life in the county, but to the patient reader we begin to understand Austen's life and experiences beyond the minutia and realize through her clever descriptions and acerbic observations how this simple parson's daughter became the author of novels that are so valued and cherished close to 200 years after their publication.

This reissue by Oxford University Press of their 2004 edition of Jane Austen Selected Letters is more than worthy of a second printing. Not only does it include two thirds of the known surviving letters and a thoughtful introduction by scholar Vivien Jones chronicling the history of the letters stewardship with the family, its supplemental material alone makes it an incredible value for the price. As with the other Oxford World's Classics of Austen's major and minor works that have been reissued this past year, it includes a brief biography, notes on the text, a select bibliography, a chronology of Jane Austen's life, and explanatory notes. Unique to this edition, and by far the highlight are the glossary of people and places and the detailed index for quick reference.

For students and Austen enthusiast seeking a compact edition in comparison to the comprehensive and hefty Jane Austen's Letters edited by Deirdre Le Faye, this reissue is a sleek and densely informative package. Usually I abhor abridged editions of anything, but in this instance we are given an excellent selection of letters and a lively introduction at less than a third of the price of its competitor. In this economy, I say better and better.

Laurel Ann, Austenprose
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Bits -and pieces- of ivory 15 Aug 2000
By C. J. Zins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This being my first experience with reading a series of actual letters, I found that I had to keep reminding myself to stop waiting for a plot, or character building, or any of the usual things one finds in a novel. Also, the book contains only selected letters, leaving a sense of large gaps of time. These things made it difficult for me to get really involved in the reading of this book; however, the editor gives very helpful tidbits at the beginning of each section: where and with whom Jane was staying, and to whom various references were made. Extensive footnotes also help with the latter. If the best mark of a book is that it makes the reader want more, then by all means this collection has done it's work: I definitely plan on learning more about Jane Austen's life and times.
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