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on 18 February 2004
This study guide is aimed at those taking Emma for AS English Literature and, like a number of others in this series, falls short of the mark. The guide does contain chapter summaries, but these are just breakdown of actual events rather than any more analytical. If you have read the novel, and you really should, there is nothing that the chapter summaries will be useful for.
The second section looks at characterisation, themes, structure and narrative technique. The characterisation section is similar to the chapter summaries, in that it is simplistic and contains few references to the text. If a greater number of references were given, this section has the potential to be useful; currently it is not. The themes section is probably the highlight of the guide and does provide material which you would not generally generate yourself. However, if you are being prepared for the AS exam it is almost inevitable that you will cover the material in this section, in greater detail, in your lessons. The structure section really does point out the obvious whilst the narrative techniques section is just common sense using 'jargony' words.
The next section is entitled 'Textual Analysis' and deals with analysis of three specific sections. (The introduction, Mr. Elton's proposal in the carriage (chpt. 15) and the ball at the Crown (chpt. 38).) Unless you are taking the coursework option and are asked to write specifically about these sections they are really without much use. The information contained is probably too vague to be useful in an examination.
The fourth section deals with the background of Jane Austen and looks at her life. As with the rest of the guide, this section is very basic and contains material which you have probably already covered in lessons. Even if you have not, the introductions to many versions of the novel (especially Penguin Modern Classics) require a greater amount of information in a similarly concise nature.
The final section is potentially one of the most useful. It deals specifically with the Assessment Objective (I think AO5) that deals with social context and reception through time. However, once again the information contained is too general to be really useful. A lack of useable quotations reduces the usefulness of this section. There are numerous other works that contain a greater information on feedback. Some of these are listed in the further reading list. This list details books which are far more useful and contain ideas that are not as simplistic. David Lodge's 'Jane Austen's Emma, A Selection of Critical Essays' is especially useful for information regarding the reception of Emma and the reaction of critics.
Ultimately this guide is not an advisable purchase. If you are REALLY struggling you might find that the book has some use. The lack of any practice exam questions also reduces the book's value as a useful guide. There are other guides which are far better and will help you gain the higher grades which this book won't allow you to achieve.
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on 5 September 2002
This was a pleasure to read, as well as being very useful. It contains a wide range of information, including events in Austen's life, as well as literary criticism. I've used this for exam revision, and now again for coursework research.
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on 4 September 2002
I found this book really useful, it covers a wide range of theories. Although thin, it keeps to the point and I've found it good for both exam revision, and coursework research.
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