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AUSTEN'S ERA LEAPS OFF THE PAGE
, 8 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Jane Austen's Letters (Hardcover)
This new edition of Jane Austen's letters must surely take pride of place on the bookshelves of anyone who claims to love this extraordinary novelist.
The minutiae of her daily existence are meticulously recorded, and it is Austen's talent for expressing the seemingly mundane that brings the author and her letters so remarkably to life. Of the political history of all periods we have more than our fair share, subject as it is to the interpretation and opinion of various historians - popular or otherwise - and our understanding of an age changes every day, but it is only through contact with letters and journals such as these that we can stand face to face with the ordinary men and women that make up an era.
To quote from the product description above:
"This fourth edition incorporates the findings of new scholarship to enrich our understanding of Austen and give us the fullest and most revealing view yet of her life and family. There is a new preface, the biographical and topographical indexes have been amended and updated, a new subject index has been created, and the contents of the notes added to the general index."
Readers perhaps unfamiliar with Austen should not be put off by the parochial and intimate detail that fills her letters - it is precisely that detail and her powers of observation that make her novels as relevant today as they were when first published two centuries ago. To read her letters is to enter the same room as Miss Austen and her correspondents, to hear their laughter and tears, and to share in the daily life of this astonishing and unfortunately short-lived genius.
This fourth edition is elegantly produced in one volume - maybe a little tightly bound to be quite comfortable, and in a size of print that is not always easy on the eye - but minor quibbles aside, Austen devotees (hand in hand with those just beginning their acquaintance with her) can and should relish every lively word. It will be a long time before this edition is superseded.
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