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Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
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Mansfield Park (original 1814; edition 2012)

by Jane Austen

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
15,193248124 (3.84)5 / 917
Member:gooutsideandplay
Title:Mansfield Park
Authors:Jane Austen
Info:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2012), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Kindle collection
Rating:
Tags:Guardian 1000 Novels

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Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (1814)

  1. 121
    Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë (Medellia)
    Medellia: Both books have sweet, shy, thoroughly virtuous protagonists, if you're a fan of that sort of character. (I am, and loved both novels!)
  2. 60
    Lover's Vows (Dodo Press) by Elizabeth Inchbald (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: The play they are rehearsing in Mansfield Park. Worth a quick skim.
  3. 30
    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (dreamydress48)
    dreamydress48: Scandal is the word of the day!
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Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. 15 CDs. unabridged. 18.75 hrs. Dreamscape Audio. ISBN 9781520002811.

While Mansfield Park may be one of the lesser read and appreciated Austen novels, this unabridged audio gives it new life and Austenites and other readers may find themselves drawn to the shy, level-headed Fanny Price. As the eldest daughter of many in a poor household, she was whisked away at age ten to live at her rich aunt's house as a ward. Always made to feel inferior, Fanny passes the time being timid, meek, but always ready to lend a hand. The four cousins she lives with pay her no mind, save Edmund, who takes her under his wing. In her eighteenth year she is introduced to her cousin's friends and is reluctantly allowed to be a part of their society, which definitely tries her patience and fortitude as they get up to no good. Can she keep her moral bearing and good spirits? Narrated beautifully by the talented Anna Bentinck who brings the Georgian Society to life with her accent. Recommended for fans of classic literature and Jane Austen, a wonderful rendering. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN ( )
1 vote ecataldi | Jun 8, 2016 |
Most people like this Austen book the least or criticize it for fitting in with the pop-cult of the time. But I really liked its gothic darkness. ( )
1 vote sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
Poor Fanny Price is sent off to live with rich relatives. Although she is never treated quite so badly as Cinderella, she is never entirely accepted as an equal except by one of the son's of the family, Edmund Bertram. Into the family mix are thrown the siblings Henry and Mary Crawford, who are both drawn into romances with Edmund and Fanny. Sadly, their principles prove to be lacking and Edmund and Fanny find their way to each other. As always, Ms. Austen throws in plenty of comedy and satire but in this book, she also brings up the issue of slavery. It is rare for Ms. Austen to deal with so heavy a subject; she makes her feelings regarding slavery quite clear. ( )
1 vote mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
Poor Fanny Price is sent off to live with rich relatives. Although she is never treated quite so badly as Cinderella, she is never entirely accepted as an equal except by one of the son's of the family, Edmund Bertram. Into the family mix are thrown the siblings Henry and Mary Crawford, who are both drawn into romances with Edmund and Fanny. Sadly, their principles prove to be lacking and Edmund and Fanny find their way to each other. As always, Ms. Austen throws in plenty of comedy and satire but in this book, she also brings up the issue of slavery. It is rare for Ms. Austen to deal with so heavy a subject; she makes her feelings regarding slavery quite clear. ( )
1 vote mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
I have to say, I always hesitate a bit before reading Jane Austen. She’s going to describe the flaws and motivations of the characters in that world in very clever ways, and I will be successfully transported to the English countryside in the early 19th century, but I know I’ll be entering a somewhat secluded, prim and proper world for several hundred pages.

In Mansfield Park, young Fanny Price is shipped off to her aunt and uncle Bertram at the age of nine because her own parents are poor and have too many kids. Wow. She grows up provided for, but always as a bit of a Cinderella; the Lady Bertram is indolent and inattentive, and her other aunt in the area, Mrs. Norris, is a busybody who cruelly exerts her will on the household, denying, for example, a fire to ever be lit in Fanny’s fireplace. There are two older girls in the household, Maria and Julia, and two older boys, Tom and Edmund. It is with Edmund that she forms a bond as he has the humanity to care for her, and the two grow up into virtuous young adults.

Trouble comes when Henry and Mary Crawford move into the area. Henry begins flirting with both Maria and Julia, setting them against one another, and suggesting that they all put on a play in their house while their father is away in the West Indies. It was considered scandalous for daughters to act in plays, particularly those with content relating to love scenes, as it might taint their reputations. That’s hard for modern readers to swallow, but that’s the reality these characters were living in. Meanwhile, Edmund falls for Mary’s starry dark eyes and can’t see her true character, all of which is alarming to Fanny.

Chapter 19, which has the father returning from the West Indies, is brilliant. The buffoonery of Mr. Rushmore, a rich suitor for Maria, and the self-importance of Mrs. Norris, are quite funny. As the play is broken up, Crawford turns his attention to Fanny, and we’re set even more against him when he tells his sister that he “cannot be satisfied without Fanny Price, without making a small hole in Fanny Price’s heart”.

I find that much is made by readers of Fanny’s being a prig, and a boring, unlikeable character, and it’s surprising to me. She’s a bit like a young protagonist out of Dickens, and someone that I cared about. Consider this - can she go into the Navy like her brother William, the clergy like her beloved Edmund, or travel about, gambling and hunting like her profligate cousin Tom? No, she cannot. It’s important for a woman of her age to be pretty, and her choice is in making a good marriage. She has seen the effect of a bad one; her own mother's circumstances are appalling in comparison to those of her aunt at Mansfield. The dilemma she faces is Crawford’s inconstant character; he's a collector of hearts and doesn't have the sensitivity she sees in Edmund. It's a shock to everyone when she turns him down, and everyone around her expresses their displeasure and begins working on her to come around and accept him. They question whether she knows her own feelings, whether she is just in shock at the suddenness of the proposal, and if she knows how ungrateful and selfish she’s being. They lay it on thick, and in the meantime Crawford’s behavior improves. Poor Fanny! (And grrr.)

Austen was painfully aware of the choice facing Fanny, for at age 26 she received an offer of marriage which would have been of great benefit to her and her parents economically, but after an initial acceptance, realized the man behind the money was not someone she could love or even admire, and subsequently turned him down. There was great pressure in these situations; as she says in Mansfield Park, “being now in her twenty-first year, Maria Bertram was beginning to think matrimony a duty”. You could be damned if you marry for money and position (as Maria does), and you can be damned if you marry based on attraction (as her own mother had). Ultimately Austen is a romantic, believing love is of utmost importance, but that it must be ‘true love’, not passing infatuation.

In considering Austen, I’m guided by Virginia Woolf, who so correctly pointed out in A Room of One's Own, that Austen had few opportunities to travel or experience greater breadth in life, so in the narration of the novel, the scene does not shift to the frigate, the parsonage, London, or general roaming about. While in this novel it does have the effect of capturing Fanny's reality, hearing of many things only through letters or as related to her by another, we realize this was not a conscious choice of Austen's, it was a constraint. Austen was well read, but, for example, had never been to London. It’s absurd to me that there are contemporary critics, mostly male, who decry her lack of commentary on everything from the Napoleonic Wars to the steam engine to whaling. Austen was a bit of a caged bird, or a hothouse flower, beautiful but not wild and free, because of the age she lived in, and specifically because of men.

How can a woman remain true to herself in such a society, if she has no means of being independent? Be virtuous, she says, and marry out of love, and to a good man. To her credit, she does point out that the disgrace a man faces after an inappropriate dalliance was “less equal than could be wished”, and indeed, less than a woman’s. The last scene of Crawford’s sister giving Edmund a “saucy playful smile, seeming to invite” reflects that she’s well aware of improper behavior, she just doesn’t ‘go there’ to describe it. She’s a good author, and an important link in the chain for women. Last point: I liked how this edition includes copies of the illustrations Hugh Thomson did for an 1897 publication.

Just this quote, on nature:
“Fanny agreed to it, and had the pleasure of seeing him continue at the window with her, in spite of the expected glee; and of having his eyes soon turned like hers towards the scene without, where all that was solemn and soothing, and lovely, appeared in the brilliancy of an unclouded night, and the contrast of the deep shade of the woods. Fanny spoke her feelings. ‘Here’s harmony!’ said she, ‘Here’s repose! Here’s what may leave all painting and all music behind, and what poetry only can attempt to describe. Here’s what may tranquillise every care, and lift the heart to rapture! When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more out of themselves by contemplating such a scene.” ( )
2 vote gbill | Mar 28, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jane Austenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drabble, MargaretIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibson, FloNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lane, MaggiePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mudrick, MarvinAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ross, JosephinePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanderson, CarolinePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, JulietNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tanner, TonyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wiltshire, JohnPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zuidema, BenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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About thirty years ago, Miss Maria Ward of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet's lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income.
Mansfield Park is Jane Austen's most dramatic and disturbing work. (Introduction)
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But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world, as there are pretty women to deserve them.
It is Fanny that I think of all day and dream of all night.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Adopted by the rich Bertrams, Fanny finds her bold cousins are daunting, her aunts and the remote Sir Thomas intimidating. Only thoughtful Edmund recognises her qualities and helps to improve her lot. But when the delightful Mr and Miss Crawford arrive to enliven the family group, even he dismisses Fanny's reservations. At first all is excitement and pleasure. Gradually, however, the effects of recklessness and selfishness accumulate. As Fanny's unswerving integrity and quiet strength become the support of the shattered family, she finds a happiness she could not have anticipated. While displaying the sparkle and clarity for which Jane Austen is renowned, the tone here is often sober and uncompromising. The issues of probity and responsibility are explored, alongside the often unhappy complexities of family life, in a considerable and profoundly satisfying novel.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0141439807, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:55 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Fanny Price, a teenaged girl of low social rank brought up on her wealthy relatives' countryside estate, feels the sharp sting of rejection when her cousin Edmund, the only person who treats her as an equal, is won over by a flirtatious, exciting--and unprincipled--London girl.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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22 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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5 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439807, 0141028149, 0451531116, 0141197706, 0141199873

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