Monday, July 13, 2009

The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen

Those who know me well know that I am a huge Jane Austen fan and have been for 30 years. I first read Pride and Prejudice in my freshman year of high school, grudgingly. From the title, I expected it to be something dry and preachy, and distinctly remember my relief and joy when I entered the world of Elizabeth Bennett!

I know of some who re-read her books annually; I don't, but I confess to have read P&P at least five times that I can recall, and Sense & Sensibility three times, and all the others once or twice. I enjoy all of the movie versions as well, and multiple times. In fact, whenever I'm feeling depressed, a surefire comfort is to plunk in an Austen adaptation and get lost in her world.

For our anniversary last month, my husband took the hint and bought me something I've been longing for: The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen!

Here, via Amazon, is the official description: This beautiful set provides the definitive text of Austen's six great comic masterpieces and her minor works. All six volumes feature splendid early 19th-century illustrations as well as R.W. Chapman's detailed explanatory notes. Chapman has collated all the editions published in the author's lifetime and previously unpublished manuscripts, establishing an authoritative text that retains the punctuation, the spelling, and division into volumes of the originals. In addition, at the end of each work he supplies notes on textual matters and appendixes on such matters as the modes of address, or characters, or carriages and travel, as these seem warranted by the text.

Here's my description: It's to die for!

All six volumes are beautifully bound, and the text is complete, and even in a font that is thought to be very close to the original typesetting when it was published. The books are sweetly sized and wonderfully illustrated. They just feel somehow to be a celebration of my favorite author!

The first one I've decided to read from the set is Mansfield Park.

There is a note in the appendix of the volume that Austen referenced a play that was very well known at the time of the writing called "Lovers' Vows," and that the reader would better understand these references by reading the short play; the play is included in the appendix and I am reading it, and enjoying it immensely, before I begin the novel.

What book is on your nightstand?


Jenny said...

Many kudos to your nice husband for such a great gift to you (gives me an idea...). That's a special edition for including the play mentioned in Mansfield Park! Enjoy getting absorbed in Jane's world for awhile :)

FrenchGardenHouse said...

There's nothing better than Jane!!

Pretty Things said...

OOoh, don't be mad, but so far I can't get into Jane. I think I picked her up at the very wrongest time. I'll try her again later. I promise!

As for what book (make that BOOKS) are on my bedside table -- a weird collection. Right now it's Plantagenet historical fiction, a few Larry McMurtry's, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

I'm nothing if not eclectic.

Jamie said...

What a sweet husband you have!!! Sense & Sensibility is one of my favorite movies. I replay the end over and over. You know, when Edward proposes to Elinor:) Actually, my night stand is really counter intuitive to my personality, but it is all Science Fiction. David Gerald and Issac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. Weird, I know. And I have been reading, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid", to David since he is sleeping in our room. It is actually really funny! Great post Sweetie! Love, Jamie

Lydia said...

Love the set! ...and the author:)