Jane Austen's Books

Without a doubt, Jane Austen can be classified as one of the greatest woman authors of all time. The popularity of her books has endured throughout the years since the release of her first novel, 'Sense and Sensibility', in 1811. They have been studied and -- more importantly -- enjoyed by countless people, from the Prince Regent at the time of their publication, to school girls (some wishing for a Mr Darcy of their own to run away with).

Sense and Sensibility

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Published in 1811, this novel featured two sisters of varying temperaments, Elimore and Marianne. At their father's death left without fortune, they are left to pursue love, loss and life in their different manners.

Pride and Prejudice

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This wonderful epic was published early 1813.† A delightful mix of irony, humour, and... of course... romance, this is one of Jane Austen's most popular novels. Jane Austen described this novel 'her own darling child', in a letter to her sister Cassandra, that was 'too light and bright and sparkling; it wants shade; it wants to be streatched out here and there with a long chapter -- of sense if it coud be had; if not, of solemn specious nonsensse -- about something unconnected with teh story; an essay on writing, a critique on Walter Scott, or the history of Buonadparte, or anything that would for a contrats, and bring the reader with increased delight to the playfulness and epigrammatism of the general style.'

Provided by Michelle Dennis (Melbourne, Australia): ' As 'Jane Austen: Her Complete Novels' so elegantly describes 'Pride and Prejudice' in it's introduction, this novel appeals to almost anyone who reads it. For a book to still be read by a wide audience well over a century after it was originally published is an incredible feat. Such is the case of Jane Austenís book, Pride and Prejudice, which though it was originally published in 1813, is still popular to date, 1997. It is the irony, themes, characters and the entertaining aspects of this charming book that keeps its relevance through the centuries.

Jane Austen uses irony to entertain the reader and to highlight the charactersí faults. This is especially the case where Elizabeth is involved. In the beginning of the book Elizabeth, who is proud of her judgement of character, is convinced of Mr Darcyís dislike, and bases her opinion of him on this, although the reader knows this is not the case. This irony has always been considered entertaining, despite the time differences, and is a tool that Jane Austen uses in Pride and Prejudice without restraint.

In many of Jane Austenís novels she discusses many themes through the representations of characters, situations and society. Pride and Prejudice is one of the greatest examples of this. It is the themes that Jane Austen uses and the way she uses and portrays these themes in the novel that makes Pride and Prejudice relevant to society today. The reason for this is many of the themes are still being debated today, for instance feminism and the level and form of education is needed. These issues are not presented as sermon, however, but gently introduced in such a way that they create a more diverse story.

The characters of Pride and Prejudice are exaggerated in such a way that their faults become obvious to the reader. Jane Austen uses this to play on the readerís feelings about the characters. An example of this is Mr Collins she portrays as an extremely foolish man, encouraging the readers dislike and disgust. Then she proceeds to play on the readerís feeling about him so that he becomes so annoying that the reader cannot but laugh at him, and feel sympathy towards Mrs Charlotte Collins. All the characters have been portrayed in this way, including Lydia, Mrs Bennet, and Mr Bennet, although Jane Austen is sometimes more subtle with some characters, Mr Darcy and Elizabeth in particular.

Despite the fact that there are many themes in Pride and Prejudice, it is important to remember that Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice to entertain not to use as a medium to give a sermon to its readers. The themes give Jane Austenís opinion and are gently given. Many books at the time where written mainly to tell people what to do. An example of is ĎAdvice to Young Ladies on the Improvement of the Mind and Conduct of Lifeí, which was published but three years before Pride and Prejudice. It is this purpose of the book, to entertain, which still captures readerís attention today,'

Mansfield Park

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Published in 1914, this novel features a rather dubious heroine of Fanny. Jane was writing this while Pride and Prejudice was being received (with much acclaim) by the public; this novel was released in May, and had sold out by autumn.

Emma

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At the beginning of 1814, Jane began to write this brilliant novel; it was finished in March 1815 and published in 1816. The heroine, Emma, an heiress determined not to marry; 'I shall not be a poor old maid; and it is poverty only which makes celibacy contemptible to a generous public! A single woman, with a very narrow income, must be a ridiculous, disagreeable old maid! The proper sport of boys and girls; but a single woman, of good fortune, is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as anyone else.' (Emma) However, she's forced to face some home truths after her melding with an easily led (and poorer) friend backfires.

Northanger Abbey

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Published in 1818 (posthumously), this novel -- a gothic satire -- was set mainly in Bath. Provided by Miss Juila Smith: "Northanger Abbey is Jane Austen's masterful satire in response to all of the overwrought gothic novels of the time. The novel Austen was chiefly amused by was the Mysteries of Udolpho, by Ann Radcliffe. Many of the funniest scenes in Northanger Abbey are take-offs on major scenes in that work. For example, when our hapless heroine, Catherine, is searching through a chest of draws at the abbey, looking for a treasure map, or old journal, she finally discovers a mass of papers. Her excitement mounting, Catherine begins reading eagerly-and finds no more than a laundry list. More than just a satire, however, Northanger Abbey stands on its own as an excellent novel about growing up and shedding the delusions of youth. Young Captain Tilney is a character in the proud tradition of Henry Crawford and George Wickam. Isabella and John Thorpe serve as examples to Catherine of what young ladies and gentlemen should not be; and Henry Tilney emerges as a sort of young Mr. Knightley, loving Catherine despite her flaws, and helping her get past them. Catherine herself should remind any reader of themselves; she is naive, but eager to learn, mistake prone, but well-intentioned."

Persuasion

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Published in 1818 (posthumously), this novel has a similar setting to Northanger Abbey -- Bath --, and was published at the same time. Seven years ago, Anne Elliot refused a proposal by a Captain Wentworth, who she loves, because a trusted friend convinced he was too far below her social station to make a match. Now, her beau re-enters her life.

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