Juvenilia

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Cambridge University Press, Oct 19, 2006 - Literary Collections - 502 pages
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Jane Austen's remarkable juvenilia date from 1787, when she was eleven, to 1793, when she was seventeen. She preserved these early writings in three manuscript notebooks, entitled, with mock solemnity, 'Volume the First', 'Volume the Second', and 'Volume the Third'. Most of these works are short fictions, but Austen also wrote the opening of what could have become a full-length novel, 'Catharine', as well as dramatic sketches, verses, and a few non-fictional pieces. Astonishingly sophisticated and inventive, these writings are now receiving the scholarly attention they deserve. This edition provides a fresh transcription of Austen's manuscripts, with comprehensive explanatory notes, an extensive critical introduction, covering the context and publication history of the juvenilia, a chronology of Austen's life and an authoritative textual apparatus. It also prints, for the first time, the copious satirical marginalia that Austen wrote on her copies of Oliver Goldsmith's History of England.

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About the author (2006)

Jane Austen's life is striking for the contrast between the great works she wrote in secret and the outward appearance of being quite dull and ordinary. Austen was born in the small English town of Steventon in Hampshire, and educated at home by her clergyman father. She was deeply devoted to her family. For a short time, the Austens lived in the resort city of Bath, but when her father died, they returned to Steventon, where Austen lived until her death at the age of 41. Austen was drawn to literature early, she began writing novels that satirized both the writers and the manners of the 1790's. Her sharp sense of humor and keen eye for the ridiculous in human behavior gave her works lasting appeal. She is at her best in such books as Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1816), in which she examines and often ridicules the behavior of small groups of middle-class characters. Austen relies heavily on conversations among her characters to reveal their personalities, and at times her novels read almost like plays. Several of them have, in fact, been made into films. She is considered to be one of the most beloved British authors.

Peter Sabor is Director of the Burney Centre and Canada Research Chair in Eighteenth-Century Studies at McGill University, Montreal.