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Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition [Hardcover]

Jane Austen , Patricia Meyer Spacks
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (557 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 2010 0674049160 978-0674049161 1

Along with the plays of William Shakespeare and the works of Charles Dickens, Jane Austen’s novels are among the most beloved books of Western literature. Pride and Prejudice (1813) was in Austen’s lifetime her most popular novel, and it was the author’s personal favorite. Adapted many times to the screen and stage, and the inspiration for numerous imitations, it remains today her most widely read book. Now, in this beautifully illustrated and annotated edition, distinguished scholar Patricia Meyer Spacks instructs the reader in a larger appreciation of the novel’s enduring pleasures and provides analysis of Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, Lady Catherine, and all the characters who inhabit the world of Pride and Prejudice.

This edition will be treasured by specialists and first-time readers, and especially by devoted Austen fans who think of themselves as Friends of Jane. In her Introduction, Spacks considers Austen’s life and career, the continuing appeal of Pride and Prejudice, and its power as a stimulus for fantasy (Maureen Dowd, writing in The New York Times, can hold forth at length on Obama as a Darcy-figure, knowing full well her readers will “understand that she wished to suggest glamour and sexiness”). Her Introduction also explores the value and art of literary annotation. In her running commentary on the novel, she provides notes on literary and historical contexts, allusions, and language likely to cause difficulty to modern readers. She offers interpretation and analysis, always with the wisdom, humor, and light touch of an experienced and sensitive teacher.


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"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

Next to the exhortation at the beginning of Moby-Dick, "Call me Ishmael," the first sentence of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice must be among the most quoted in literature. And certainly what Melville did for whaling Austen does for marriage--tracing the intricacies (not to mention the economics) of 19th-century British mating rituals with a sure hand and an unblinking eye. As usual, Austen trains her sights on a country village and a few families--in this case, the Bennets, the Philips, and the Lucases. Into their midst comes Mr. Bingley, a single man of good fortune, and his friend, Mr. Darcy, who is even richer. Mrs. Bennet, who married above her station, sees their arrival as an opportunity to marry off at least one of her five daughters. Bingley is complaisant and easily charmed by the eldest Bennet girl, Jane; Darcy, however, is harder to please. Put off by Mrs. Bennet's vulgarity and the untoward behavior of the three younger daughters, he is unable to see the true worth of the older girls, Jane and Elizabeth. His excessive pride offends Lizzy, who is more than willing to believe the worst that other people have to say of him; when George Wickham, a soldier stationed in the village, does indeed have a discreditable tale to tell, his words fall on fertile ground.

Having set up the central misunderstanding of the novel, Austen then brings in her cast of fascinating secondary characters: Mr. Collins, the sycophantic clergyman who aspires to Lizzy's hand but settles for her best friend, Charlotte, instead; Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Darcy's insufferably snobbish aunt; and the Gardiners, Jane and Elizabeth's low-born but noble-hearted aunt and uncle. Some of Austen's best comedy comes from mixing and matching these representatives of different classes and economic strata, demonstrating the hypocrisy at the heart of so many social interactions. And though the novel is rife with romantic misunderstandings, rejected proposals, disastrous elopements, and a requisite happy ending for those who deserve one, Austen never gets so carried away with the romance that she loses sight of the hard economic realities of 19th-century matrimonial maneuvering. Good marriages for penniless girls such as the Bennets are hard to come by, and even Lizzy, who comes to sincerely value Mr. Darcy, remarks when asked when she first began to love him: "It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley." She may be joking, but there's more than a little truth to her sentiment, as well. Jane Austen considered Elizabeth Bennet "as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print". Readers of Pride and Prejudice would be hard-pressed to disagree. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Drawing on extensive knowledge, wisdom, and original insights, Professor Spacks is a monumentally intelligent guide to Pride and Prejudice. Reading Austen's masterpiece with her commentaries at hand is like reading it with a better, wiser friend: someone who is able to anticipate our questions and reactions and someone who also knows Austen and her people intimately.
--Deidre Lynch, University of Toronto

[Spacks] provides an extremely useful introduction, detailing Austen's life and noting (along with her "further reading" section) the ongoing scholarly attention. Readers will also appreciate Spacks's well-placed references to the interpretations of other scholars, such as Tony Tanner and Linda Colley...A valuable addition for any Austen student, scholar, or fan.
--Kathryn R. Bartelt (Library Journal 2010-09-01)

Reading Pride and Prejudice with Spacks as a guide illuminates the richness of Austen's historical context, as the annotations draw attention to important material that might initially be missed...This beautifully produced and informative guide to reading Austen's brilliant and beloved novel in its historical context will be a welcome addition to the library of anyone who has read, or plans to read, Pride and Prejudice more than once...Both specialists and fans will find it a great pleasure to read, learn from, and argue with Spacks's annotated edition of this classic novel.
--Sarah Emsley (Open Letters Monthly 2010-10-01)

So interesting and comprehensive are Spacks's notes on Austen, she could conceivably even introduce the author to a few male readers who might otherwise have veered away from all the bonnets and ruffles...Spacks is fascinating on the topic of Austen, and especially on the author's deft use of dialogue and observation to layer dense levels of meaning into her stories, the notes do open up new vistas of enjoyment and understanding, especially for those approaching the goings-on at Longbourn for the first time...Spacks's notes can be invaluable...For history buffs and period fetishists, who must surely comprise some significant part of the audience for historical romance, this annotated Pride and Prejudice is a treasure trove...This edition should prove equally refreshing to even the most ardent of Miss Bennet's amateur readers.
--John Birmingham (The Australian 2010-09-25)

An appropriately handsome, witty, deeply smart and buoyantly informative annotated edition of Jane Austen's beloved novel, prepared with astuteness and affection by scholar Patricia Meyer Spacks. (Barnes and Noble Review 2010-09-24)

A treat for the legions of Jane Austen enthusiasts, Pride and Prejudice: The Annotated Edition is an oversized volume packed with period illustrations and notation, illuminating the text and the life of Austen. (National Post 2010-09-25)

[A] handsomely produced annotated edition...Spacks' annotations are illuminating...The dozens of illustrations--a watercolor of Austen by her sister, for example, and images of late 18th-century drawing rooms--add a layer of visual delight and edification to the clarifying notes Spacks offers.
--Lauren Winner (Books & Culture 2010-10-20)

Austen's most famous novel needs no introduction, but it does benefit from the hundreds of loving notes--historical references, vocab tips, and more--provided by Austen scholar Patricia Meyer Spacks. (Entertainment Weekly 2010-12-10)

[A] beautiful new illustrated edition...The great benefit of Spacks's notes, set out in columns beside the text, and sometimes occupying whole facing pages, is that they make you read more slowly. Instead of letting Austen's delicious confection slip down like a syllabub, you have to think about each sentence, and that enriches and complicates everything...Pride and Prejudice is a rarity among great books in being both a trenchant moral tale and the wispiest wish fulfillment, as unreal as Cinderella.
--John Carey (Sunday Times 2010-12-19)

Delightful illustrations and perspicacious annotations deepen the pleasures of this great book, paradoxically showing how much we converge and diverge with Miss Austen's world of Regency England. Spacks anticipates our questions because she has spent countless afternoon teas in the company of an author whose ear was tuned to subtleties of dialogue and whose heart was sensitive to both the machinations of romance and the meanness of wealth.
--Christopher Benson (First Things 2010-12-21)

In this annotated edition of Pride and Prejudice, Patricia Meyer Spacks offers a guide to the nuances of Austen's language...It is useful to have such glosses adjacent to Austen's text, along with concise explanations of points of etiquette, historical detail, parallels with other Austen novels and involving subjects such as the Bennet girls' marriage prospects.
--Michael Caines (Times Literary Supplement 2011-05-27)

A grand slam home run.
--Laurel Ann (AustenProse.com 2011-11-18)

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, follows society's elite through the trials and tribulations of love, pride, money, and marriage negotiations. This novel takes place in 19th century England and revolves around the slow development of love found between two characters. The first of these characters is Elizabeth Bennet, a clever, beautiful, and spirited young woman. Pride and Prejudice begins, when Mrs. Bennet asks Mr. Bennet to call on their new neighbor, Mr. Bingley. Mr. Bingley has an income of 5 thousand pounds a year and is not married, so Mrs. Bennet hopes to marry one of her 5 daughters to him. Jane, the eldest daughter, and Mr. Bingley begin to like each other during a ball. Elizabeth, the second oldest, meets Mr. Darcy at the same ball. Darcy initially does not care for Elizabeth, and refuses to even dance with her.
However, as Elizabeth grows to dislike Darcy, Darcy starts to become very fond of her. She and Darcy meet again when she stays with Mr. Bingley, because her sister, Jane, has taken ill at their house. Ms. Bingley, the sister of Mr. Bingley, herself hopes to wed Darcy, and seeks to make Elizabeth less appealing to Darcy. After Jane's recovery she and Elizabeth return home. There they welcomed to their home by their cousin Mr. Collins, who, because of the inheritance customs of the times (the Bennet girls had no brothers), was the heir to the Bennet family home. Together, Elizabeth and her family travel to town, where they met Mr. Wickham. Mr. Wickham notices Elizabeth, who he found charming, and describes to her a terrible deed he alleges Darcy had committed against him. Wickham claimed that Darcy owed him money and had denied him of a promised avocation. This new information causes Elizabeth to despise Darcy even more.
Soon Mr.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I am a gentleman's daughter!" Dec 4 2012
By AP
Format:Paperback
So goes Elizabeth's passionate defence of her family against the horrid Lady Catherine near the end of the novel. Jane Austen's wonderful, funny, smart, and captivating. She is one of my favourite authors period. She writes in such a modest, perceptive way that you don't notice at first all the trickery that goes on with her narrators. It's beautiful and highly thought-out. She makes me feel stupid.

'Pride and Prejudice' is such a famous work that writing anything about it seems hard without repeating things already said. It's about Elizabeth Bennett's education, and it is entertaining in every way. You'll meet the loveable Mr. Bingley, Mr. Collins the lickspittle, Mrs. Bennet the match-maker, Mr. Bennet the bystander, and Mr. Darcy: the stuck-up owner of Pemberley with a heart of gold. It's one of those novels where all its characters face some kind of challenge or crisis. Jane Austen judges them by what they get from those crises. I love her for the way she makes us hate Darcy in the beginning, love Elizabeth in the beginning, and then makes us chuckle when we realize how foolish both of them were towards the end.

Definite recommendation for anyone who wants to read a good book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 14 2014
By mmof7
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
love this book
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love it! June 15 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Love it! It's neither thick nor heavy, so it's pretty easy to carry around. I'm gonna read this book on my flight.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but spelling errors. April 8 2014
By E
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm happy with this copy of Pride and Prejudice, although there are some spelling errors I came across in this copy, and in the blurb on the back. "Jane Auslen" instead of Jane Austen. If you're looking for a review of the book I highly recommend reading it, it's an amazing novel!
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By Ladybug TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
In her second novel, Jane Austen tells the story of Elizabeth Bennet, a bright 21 year-old woman, who is determined to marry only if she has the deepest love and respect for her future husband. Those are not her feelings when she first encounters Mr Darcy, who at first seems like a pride and cold gentleman. In fact she prefers Mr Wickham, an old acquaintance of Mr Darcy who considers himself as having been wrongfully treated by him. But is this truly the case or will Mr Darcy, upon further acquaintance, reveal himself to be more than the personification of pride itself?

Of all Jane Austen’s novels, this one remains my absolute favorite for here she depicts with wit and humor all that she sees of human stupidity in Mr Collins , silliness in Mrs Bennet and her 3 younger daughters, as well as cynicism in Mr Bennet. This romantic novel is also a parade of the most bizarre of marriages: from loveless to senseless, without forgetting a catastrophic elopement, Pride and Prejudice has it all. But all this would be nothing without the presence of the spirited Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy who’s many encounters and witty/intellectual matches makes me love them and consider them as one of Jane Austen’s most powerful couple. This is simply a masterpiece.

For more about this book and many more, visit my blog at :

ladybugandotherbookworms.blogspot.com
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very fun, easy and light read March 22 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is every bit as enjoyable as it was in the period it was written. It is enjoyable, the characters are engaging and feel realistic, and it deserves its long lasting reputation. Have fun!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A truth universally acknowledged May 16 2010
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
"Pride and Prejudice" is undoubtedly one of the most beloved classic novels in history -- it's had countless adaptations, sequels and homages lavished on it over the years.

And Jane Austen's grand opus is still beloved for a good reason. While it's rather stuffily written much of the time, it has a vibrant core of witty dialogue and strong characters that shine like lanterns in the night -- and the best part of it is the interplay between the two strong-willed main characters, whose initial dislike of one another blossoms into love once they learn how to overcome his pride and her prejudice.

The Bennett family is in an uproar when wealthy Mr. Bingley moves into the neighborhood, and Mrs. Bennett is especially happy when he takes a liking to the eldest Bennett daughter Jane -- since their estate is entailed and there is no Mr. Bennett Jr., a good marriage is considered essential for at least one of the girls. But her forthright, independent sister Lizzie immediately butts heads with wealthy, aloof Mr. Darcy, who scorns the rural village and seems haughty about everything.

A flurry of proposals, road trips and friendships happen over the course of the following months, with Lizzie fending off her slimy cousin Mr. Collins, and befriending the flirty, hunky Wickham, who claims to have been wronged by Darcy. Lizzie believes Wickham's account -- and she's in for a shock when Darcy unexpectedly proposes, and reveals what Wickham won't tell her about both of their past lives, and what Wickham did to offend Darcy.

And finally things take a scandalous turn when Lizzie's idiotic younger sister Lydia elopes with Wickham, while staying with a friend in Brighton.
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