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Jane Austen's Letters Hardcover – 20 Oct 2011
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[a] landmark collection ... Le Faye's work combines a meticulous compilation of data about the physical attributes and indexes that allow us to read over Austen's shoulder as she shares everyday news and frank opinions with family and friends. (Newsletter of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Volume 28: Issue Number 2)
For someone fairly new to Austen studies, who knows the novels and even the minor works but who is yet to immerse themselves in these tender, touching, entertaining products of their author's mind, there could be no better gift. (The Newsletter of the Jane Austen Society, no. 38)
About the Author
Deirdre Le Faye is now retired and lives in North Somerset; prior to retirement she worked for many years in the Department of Medieval & Later Antiquities at the British Museum. She started researching the life and times of Jane Austen and her family in the 1970s, and since then has written several books about them, the latest being A Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family 1600-2000, as well as numerous articles in literary journals.
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Top customer reviews
we have discussed these letters at great length and the fact that the wording is so fresh it could have been written today. I would recommend this book to any Jane Austen fans obviously but also to anyone who likes a nice gossipy read. they are stories in themselves - full of humour.
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.
I am hopping that by digesting the contents of this reference book that I will gain a better insight into this fascinating woman's world, her life and personality, this edition is well referenced with hundreds of footnotes and is a worthy addition to any JANEITE,S collection.
I always think it a real loss to the literary world the destruction of so many of her letters possibly as many as four thousand by two members of her family, but we will never be sure of the reasons for this decision by her sister and niece.
The wealth of detail provide in this book has to be seen to be be believed, but not a book you read from cover to cover, but an absolutely superb piece of reference, indispensable as an addition to her novels.
and give the lie to the idea that she knew nothing of the 'outside' world.
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