'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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September 25, 2011

Notes in the margins



How eloquent would Anne Elliot have been, -- how eloquent, at least, were her wishes on the side of early warm attachment, and a cheerful confidence in futurity, against that over-anxious caution which seems to insult exertion and distrust Providence! -- She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older -- the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.
I'm having fun reading Persuasion for this second time in this annotated edition, with a full page of footnotes for each page of text. {I wouldn't have wanted this clutter and distraction the first time I read it...}  The annotations range from explanations of social mores and logistics (how a toll road works), to words and meanings {'want' for 'need,' 'peculiar' for 'particular'}, to notes about the author. For this last sentence, I learned this...

A copy of the novel once owned by Jane Austen's sister, Cassandra, contains a marginal note, presumably by Cassandra, next to this paragraph that reads, 'Dear dear Jane! This deserves to be written in letters of gold.'  An obvious inspiration for the note would be the tragic story of Cassandra's own engagement. ...
{Cassandra and her clergyman fiance waited to marry because his current income was too small, and he died before they could.} It's not clear whether Jane Austen drew on Cassandra's story, but it's a sweet glimpse of the connection between the sisters. There have been other little tidbits about Jane's writing, too. One was that the maiden name of her publisher's wife was Anne Elliot, spelled exactly that way, with the -e in Anne and instead of the more common Eliot or Elliott, and that she (Jane) may have chosen that name for her heroine to please the publisher, who had not been happy with Emma.

Even without the annotations, I'm finding words and phrases in the text that I hadn't noticed before {like that wonderful last sentence noted above}. Re-reading Jane Austen will never get old, will it?

5 comments:

JoAnn said...

Definitely agree with you about the annotations... a little too much on a first reading, but so enjoyable later on. The Annotated Pride & Prejudice is on my shelf and I'm really hoping to tackle it soon. A reread of my favorite novel is long overdue. Then it will be time to consider Persuasion.

Nicola said...

Oh I didn't know about the marginal note by Cassandra. That is fascinating. If only we knew more about Cassandra. I have so much enjoyed re-reading Persuasion with its wonderful theme of lost love re-gained. I'm interested in the annotated edition, now!

Joan Hunter Dunn said...

I'd not thought about reading an annotated edition. I think it will be the reread after next - the next time will be to glory in then story. I've so enjoyed Persuasion.

Mrs. B. said...

Reading an annotated edition seems like the perfect choice when doing a reread of a book. I also enjoyed the read-a-long and reviewed the book last week.

Jillian said...

I LOVE rereading Austen! So much pops out. :-) I've read this annotated version of Persuasion and really enjoyed it.

Like others, I'd love to know more about Cassandra...

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