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Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition [Hardcover]

Jane Austen , Patricia Meyer Spacks
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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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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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)

About the Author

Patricia Meyer Spacks is a National Book Award finalist and Edgar Shannon Professor of English Emerita, University of Virginia.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Added enjoyment July 3 2011
Format:Hardcover
You may have read P and P hundreds of time and studied it in school or university but this annotated version will add to your understanding and enjoyment of the novel. Fashion, language, manners - so much more is discussed with excellent references and illustrations. I particularly enjoyed the fashion illustrations from the time and the exploration of the language of the time. A new way to add depth to a favourite novel, and a beautiful edition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2,294 reviews
607 of 658 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of Wit and Style, A Timeless Work for the Ages June 11 2002
By Gary F. Taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Jane Austen is one of the great masters of the English language, and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is her great masterpiece, a sharp and witty comedy of manners played out in early 19th Century English society, a world in which men held virtually all the power and women were required to negotiate mine-fields of social status, respectability, wealth, love, and sex in order to marry both to their own liking and to the advantage of their family. And such is particularly the case of the Bennetts, a family of daughters whose father's estate is entailed to a distant relative, for upon Mr. Bennett's death they will lose home, land, income, everything. But are the Bennett daughters up to playing a winning hand in this high-stakes matrimonial game without forfeiting their own personal integrity?

This battle of the sexes is largely seen through the eyes of second daughter Elizabeth, who possesses a razor-sharp wit and rich sense of humor--and who finds herself hindered by her own addlepated mother, her sister Jane's hopeless love for the wealthy Mr. Bingley, and her sister Lydia's penchant for scandal... not to mention the high-born, formidable, and outrageously proud Mr. Darcy, who seems determined to trump her every card. But the game of love proves more surprising than either Elizabeth or Mr. Darcy can imagine, and sometimes a seemingly weak hand proves a winning one when all cards are on the table.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is simply one of the funniest novels ever written, peopled with memorable characters brought vividly to life as they both succeed and fail at the game of life according to the manners of their era. It is a novel to which I return again and again, enjoying Austen's brillant talent. I have little respect for people who describe it as dull, slow, out of date, for as long as men and women live and fall in love it will never be out of style, always be meaningful, and always be funny. A masterpiece of wit and style; a timeless novel for the ages.
96 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, sumptuous and satisfying Sept. 24 2010
By Laurel Ann - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Just when I thought I had more editions of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE than I should ever own up to, I will freely admit to just one more. After all, what Janeite could resist this tempting package? An unabridged first edition text; Annotations by an Austen scholar; Color illustrations; Over-sized coffee table format; Extensive introduction; And, supplemental material - all pulled together in a beautifully designed interior and stunning cover. *swoon* Where are my aromatic vinegars?

This new annotated edition appeals to modern readers on many levels beyond being a pretty package of a beloved classic. Austen is renowned for her witty dialogue and finely drawn characters, but not for her elaborate physical descriptions or historical context. When PRIDE AND PREJUDICE was originally published in 1813, this brevity was accessible to her contemporary readers who assumed the inferences, but after close to two hundred years words have changed their meaning, insinuations and subtle asides have become fuzzy, and cultural differences from Regency to twenty-first century are worlds apart. Anyone can read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and follow the narrative, but it is so much more enjoyable if you can read it on an expanded level understanding it in social, cultural and historical context. Editor Patricia Meyer Spacks has not only added extensive notes on plot, characters, events, history, culture and critical analysis from a vast array of Austen and literary scholars, but added her own personal insights and observations from years of reading Austen and her experience as a college professor. From shoe roses to Fordyces Sermons to military floggings to the 19th-century meaning of condescension, readers will be informed and enlightened on every aspect related to the novel, the author and her times. In a nut shell, she has vetted great resources, gathered nuggets of knowledge and placed them at our feet.

As with all of Austen's characters, this new annotated edition of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE has its own charms, "frailties, foibles and follies." Weighing in at over three pounds, and encompassing 464 pages of unabridged text and fine print margin notes, this book easily reigns as the most all-inclusive and well-researched edition of Jane Austen's masterpiece that I have ever encountered. Considering that the elaborate annotation classifies it as a reference work in addition to a full text, it is quite puzzling that it lacks an index. In addition, the illustrations are expertly selected but sadly lost some of their refinement in the printing process, coming across dark and murky in places. However, I was pleased to see a list of further reading and illustration credits listed in the back of the book to encourage readers to "add something more substantial, in the improvement of [their] minds by extensive reading."

Beautiful, sumptuous and satisfying, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: AN ANNOTATED EDITION is a monumental achievement that should be on the top of your holiday wish list and considered one of few editions available to be esteemed truly accomplished.

Laurel Ann, Austenprose
486 of 533 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Check the Publisher carefully before you place your order because.... July 8 2010
By Kiwi - Published on Amazon.com
One of the versions listed is published by "General Books LLC." Another reader complained about the tiny and almost unreadable font - you probably bought the version published by General Books LLC - and here's the reason.

General Books LLC is an imprint of VDM Publishing, (google them and take a look at the Wikipedia article on them) and they specialise in publishing books that are free of copyright without doing any editing or quality control. A few quotes from the publishers website will explain more:

"We created your book using OCR software that includes an automated spell check. Our OCR software is 99 percent accurate if the book is in good condition. However, with up to 3,500 characters per page, even one percent can be an annoying number of typos....

After we re-typeset and designed your book, the page numbers change so the old index and table of contents no longer work. Therefore, we usually remove them. Since many of our books only sell a couple of copies, manually creating a new index and table of contents could add more than a hundred dollars to the cover price....

Our OCR software can't distinguish between an illustration and a smudge or library stamp so it ignores everything except type. We would really like to manually scan and add the illustrations. But many of our books only sell a couple of copies....

We created your book using a robot who turned and photographed each page. Our robot is 99 percent accurate. But sometimes two pages stick together. And sometimes a page may even be missing from our copy of the book. We would really like to manually scan each page and buy multiple copies of each original. But many of our books only sell a couple of copies..... "

So what you're getting if you buy the version published by General Books LLC is a scanned in, unedited, low quality (and with an almost unreadable font from the sounds of it) unindexed / No table of contents book at a higher price than many of the good quality imprints available. Basically, VDM Publishing is flooding Amazon with these low quality prints (450,000 of them are listed now) and, unfortunately, many of them have the reviews associated with better quality imprints associated with them. The product description is insufficient for the buyer that's not aware of this publisher.

Totally unethical marketing.

A reader,Scott Hannigan has commented: "What you have given us is feedback - not a review. There is an appropriate forum for your complaints. You should delete it as it brings down the average score of a classic." In response, I have to say that Amazon does not provide a forum for complaints and has been remarkably resistant to taking on board criticism from many customers over the books published by General Books LLC. In addition, Amazon is the Printer of these POD books and makes a substantial cut from them. Sadly, given that the General Books LLC version is lumped in with other imprints from genuine publishers, there is no real way of making potential buyers aware of the problems with this particular version of the book without inflicting it on all the other versions available. C'est la vie.

Scott - apologies for replying like this but Amazon removed my ability to comment some time ago - I broke ze commenting guidelines. Re "Amazon does provide a feedback section. You will find it under 'My Account', 'Personalization', 'Leave Seller Feedback'" - yes, they do indeed but the response to myself and many others has been uniformly that it's not their problem. Look up the discussion forum on Alphascript Books for a very enlightening backgrounder on this one. That said, if you bought a book from General Books LLC and saw what it was like, you'd be highly annoyed - as most buyers have been - and even if you returned it to Amazon for a refund, you'd be out of pocket for the postage.
212 of 238 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars NOT a good version for Kindle July 25 2008
By Margaret Durbin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Note to all Kindle users - there are some books that are meant to be read on the Kindle and some that must have just been scanned into the computer. This version is in the latter group. It's AWFUL. Sometimes you only get half a screen, other times the text is different sizes. It has no table of contents for navigation. I love the book, I hate the version.
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than an Annotation, A Visually Beautiful Experience As Well Sept. 25 2010
By Vic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Jane Austen scholar Patricia Meyer Spacks has written many books, but none so lush and lovely as Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition. Not only will this beautiful annotated edition of Jane Austen's beloved novel look fabulous on your coffee table, but after reading it you will feel that you've come to understand Pride and Prejudice as you never have before.

Dr. Spacks's definitions, descriptions, and clarifications of arcane words, Regency customs, and obscure passages add dimension to a novel that I have read over 22 times and thought I knew inside and out. But I was wrong. Take her annotation of this rather unassuming sentence in Chapter 4, for example: "With no greater events than these in the Longbourn family, and otherwise diversified by little beyond the walks to Meryton, sometimes dirty and sometimes cold, did January and February pass away."

Dr. Spacks explains that in this instance, dirty meant muddy. Thinking of how uneventful life in a semi-rural setting must be, she adds, "Aside from the arrival of the militia and of Wickham, virtually everything of significance that has happened in the novel so far has been psychological..." She then goes on to describe the states of mind in Jane, Elizabeth, Darcy and Mr. Collins as they interact with each other.

In Chapter 2, Volume III, she introduces Michael Kramp's idea that Mr. Darcy's kindness to Mrs. Gardiner during Elizabeth's and the Gardiners visit to Pemberly is evidence of the changing nature of England's social arrangements and that "the gap between new and old money is shrinking." (p. 307)

Dr. Spacks's new annotated edition provides an erudite commentary on Pride and Prejudice, refers to many scholarly sources, and includes a large assortment of images. As she explained in a recent interview with me: "we looked for images that were beautiful in themselves and that illuminated some aspect of Austen's period."

Her 24-page introduction explores the continuing appeal of Pride and Prejudice: that it is considered safe for teaching in school and appeals to both feminists and sentimental individuals who are attracted to a romantic English past. "It has also emerged clearly as a repository for and stimulus of fantasy, and thus possibly less safe than it seems. In the film versions...Darcy, romanticized, tends to turn into a Heathcliff figure, passionate, beautiful, and overwhelmingly physical." Someone recently asked how this annotation of Pride and Prejudice differed from David M. Shapard's 2004 annotation. The Spacks volume comes in a lavishly color-illustrated, hardback edition, while Shapard's book was published as a trade paperback. Scattered thinly throughout its pages are a few black and white illustrations. Aside from the difference in physical appearance, Spacks's annotations are more scholarly

Flipping through the first page of the novel, you can immediately spot the difference. Dr. Spacks, the Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English, Emerita at the University of Virginia, discusses the famous first sentence as material for a critical debate on the ambiguity of "want", whereas Dr. Shapard, an 18th century expert, emphasizes the introduction of two central themes of the novel, marriage and financial considerations. The two annotations are so different, that I believe there is room on the shelves for both of them.

Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks is a perfect gift for oneself and for a beloved friend or family member. If the purchase price seems a bit steep in this economy, place it on your Holiday gift wish list. You will not be disappointed when you unwrap your package. - Vic from Jane Austen's World blog
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