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by Jane Austen
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Though Jane Austen was writing at a time when Gothic potboilers such as Ann Ward Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho and Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto were all the rage, she never got carried away by romance in her own novels. In Austen's ordered world, the passions that ruled Gothic fiction would be horridly out of place; marriage was, first and foremost, a contract, the bedrock of polite society. Certain rules applied to who was eligible and who was not, how one courted and married and what one expected afterwards. To flout these rules was to tear at the basic fabric of society, and the consequences could be terrible. Each of the six novels she completed in her lifetime are, in effect, comic cautionary tales that end happily for those characters who play by the rules and badly for those who don't. In Mansfield Park, for example, Austen gives us Fanny Price, a poor young woman who has grown up in her wealthy relatives' household without ever being accepted as an equal. The only one who has truly been kind to Fanny is Edmund Bertram, the younger of the family's two sons.
Into this Cinderella existence comes Henry Crawford and his sister, Mary, who are visiting relatives in the neighborhood. Soon Mansfield Park is given over to all kinds of gaiety, including a daring interlude spent dabbling in theatricals. Young Edmund is smitten with Mary, and Henry Crawford woos Fanny. Yet these two charming, gifted, and attractive siblings gradually reveal themselves to be lacking in one essential Austenian quality: principle. Without good principles to temper passion, the results can be disastrous, and indeed, Mansfield Park is rife with adultery, betrayal, social ruin, and ruptured friendships. But this is a comedy, after all, so there is also a requisite happy ending and plenty of Austen's patented gentle satire along the way. Describing the switch in Edmund's affections from Mary to Fanny, she writes: "I purposely abstain from dates on this occasion, that everyone may be at liberty to fix their own, aware that the cure of unconquerable passions, and the transfer of unchanging attachments, must vary much as to time in different people." What does not vary is the pleasure with which new generations come to Jane Austen. --Alix Wilber
From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up-Jane Austen paints some witty and perceptive studies of character.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Austen is the hot property of the entertainment world with new feature film versions of Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility on the silver screen and Pride and Prejudice hitting the TV airwaves on PBS. Such high visibility will inevitably draw renewed interest in the original source materials. These new Modern Library editions offer quality hardcovers at affordable prices.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In this elegant abridgment, Harriet Walter (Fanny Dashwood in the film Sense and Sensibility) brings her exquisite articulation to bear on the inhabitants of gracious Mansfield Park. Walter's voicing of the characters is expert, displaying not only a virtuosity with accent and tone, but also a deep understanding of Austen's class distinctions. The maddening hypocrisy of Fanny's aunt, Mrs. Norris, and the clenched jaw of her uncle, the baronet, are both in delightful contrast to the livelier members of the party. The distinction the reader draws between the captivating, but shallow, Mary Crawford and the mild and sensitive Fanny Price leaves no doubt that our hero will eventually triumph in Edmond Bertram's heart. T.M. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine
"Cover to Cover's unabridged readings of classic novels are in a class of their own."
Deirdre Donahue, USA TODAY, December 3, 1998
"These Cover to Cover tapes offer up a delectable feast for fans of the spoken word. We're talking class act here - from the elegant covers to the accomplished readers."
"Never did any novelist make more use of an impeccable sense of human values."
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Mansfield Park is Jane Austens most dramatic novel, centering on the smart and spirited Fanny Price, who was Austens own favourite among all her legendary heroines. At the age of ten, Fanny is sent to live with her wealthy cousins at their estate. At first a meek outsider, Fanny grows into a beautiful woman with great strength of character and intelligence. But her values are severely tested when the arrival of the sophisticated brother and sister duo from London, Henry and Mary Crawford, throws Mansfield Park into a passionate upheaval.
Begun in 1811 at the height of Jane Austen's writing powers and published in 1814, Mansfield Park marks a conscious break from the tone of her first three novels, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice, the last of which Austen came to see as "rather too light." Fanny Price is unlike any of Austen's previous heroines, a girl from a poor family brought up in a splendid country house and possessed of a vast reserve of moral fortitude and imperturbability. She is very different from Elizabeth Bennet, but is the product of the same inspired imagination.
The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Novel by Jane Austen, published in three volumes in 1814. In its tone and discussion of religion and religious duty, it is the most serious of Austen's novels. The heroine, Fanny Price, is a self-effacing and unregarded cousin cared for by the Bertram family in their country house. Fanny's moral strength eventually wins her complete acceptance by the family.
From the Publisher
Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards.
From the Inside Flap
Introduction by Peter Conrad
From the Back Cover
"The technique of the novels is beyond praise, and has been praised. Her mastery of the art she chose, or that chose her, is complete: how she achieved it no one will ever know."
About the Author
The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editions of important works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torch-bearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.
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