A Memoir of Jane Austen: and Other Family Recollections (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 10 Oct 2002
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a must for lovers of Austen's work (Choice Magazine)
A very good introduction by Kathryn Sutherland (Derwent May, the Times,) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
This much-expanded second edition of James Edward Austen-Leigh's Memoir of his famous aunt contains for the first time the texts of Lady Susan, and the fragmentary The Watsons, as well as a brief summary of Jane Austen's last unfinished work, Sanditon, and revised biographical details. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
This was an interesting selection of works, mainly because the detailed notes to this edition made it possible to see what information about Jane Austen had been left out of James Edward Austen-Leigh's memoir. It seems that he and his sisters wanted to present Jane Austen in a way that they felt was appropriate for the late 19th century and so certain events or incidents were glossed over. In particular a humorous poem that Jane Austen wrote a few days before her death which had been referred to in Henry Austen's first biography was deliberately not mentioned in James Edward Austen-Leigh's memoir because he and his sisters felt it made their beloved aunt appear frivolous. Additionally, James Edward Austen Leigh and his sisters did not have access to all of Jane Austen's letters that modern scholars have access to as these were then being held by other branches of the family.
For the above reasons I wouldn't recommend this collection to someone who hadn't read a modern biography of Jane Austen. I also think it would be easier to first get a sense of Jane Austen's extended family from a modern biography and I think I would have found this book more confusing if I hadn't previously read one.Read more ›
For a book billed as the 'prime authority for her life' I found it quite dry and emotionless in tone. I appreciate that it was written in the latter half of the 19th century and that certain events and incidents in Jane's life were therefore avoided for the sake of reputation (that of Jane's and her family's) and Victorian decorum, but Austen-Leigh revealed nothing of Jane's life or personality that I didn't already know. In fact her own, fictitious works, make me feel closer to her as a person than this biography did.
Much of Austen-Leigh's work is based around the recollections of others, particularly his sisters Anna and Caroline, of whom the latter spent a great deal of her childhood with aunts Jane and Cassandra. But even these recollections aren't evocative. Much of what is related is factual, with little of the emotion you would expect from someone reminiscing about precious times spent with a beloved aunt. I fully appreciate that in today's sensationalised biographical world, Austen's life would be consider boring and uneventful (points which Austen-Leigh himself makes) but I anticipated something more than an emotionless blow-by-blow account of her short existence.Read more ›
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