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Jane Austen's Minor Works by Jane Austen
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Jane Austen's Minor Works

by Jane Austen, R W Chapman (Editor)

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The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen The Works of Jane Austen Volume VI Minor Works Now first collected and edited from the manuscripts by R. W. Chapman
  Buttercup25 | May 17, 2017 |
This review and others can be found at my blog.

Jane Austen’s Minor Works contains her juvenilia, the short story Lady Susan, fragments of the novels The Watsons and Sandition, a plan for a novel, thoughts on some of her work (from family and friends) and some verses prayers.

I’m sorry I waited so long to pick up this collection of Jane’s work, after having completed all her finished novels. Her juvenilia was a blast to read. These were all judged to be written when she was anywhere from twelve to eighteen and her sense of humor takes the lead. The little stories and unfinished snippets are clearly meant to be taken lightly and often poke fun at society (more boldly than her later novels). Her characters are frivolous and nonsensical, changing their minds at the drop of a hat, or often fainting away or dying. I often found myself laughing out loud and gushing at my fiancé about how unexpectedly funny these little tidbits were, while he nodded away and pretended to understand 18th century humor.

The most ridiculous tale in this section was probably a story involving a woman who was pregnant without her husband’s knowledge and had the baby while he was away at sea, only to abandon her by the side of the road. A few days later her husband came home and they went out and found a baby and decided to adopt it – the woman not realizing it was her own baby at the time. They raised the girl and promptly kicked her out of the house when they found she’d stolen a little money (like a few pence or something), then when they find her wandering and homeless later, her voice suddenly sparks the mother to remember her child and all is well again.

A few quotes that had me chuckling:

“…when a person has too great a degree of red in their Complexion, it gives their face in my opinion, too red a look.”

“Mrs Fitzroy did not approve of the match on account of the tender years of the young couple, Rebecca being but 36 & Captain Roger little more than 63. To remedy this objection, it was agreed that they should wait a little while [to marry] till they were a good deal older.”

“…when they parted, she assured her that except her Father, Brother, Uncles, Aunts, Cousins & other relations, Lady Williams, Charles Adams & a few dozen more of particular friends, she loved her better than almost any other person in the world.”

A couple notes to family members:

“Sir, your generous patronage of the unfinished tale, I have already taken the Liberty of dedicating to you, encourages me to dedicate to you a second, as unfinished as the first.”

“Cousin, Conscious of the Charming Character which in every Country, & every Clime in Christendom is Cried, Concerning you, with Caution & Care I Commend to your Charitable Criticism this Clever Collection of Curious Comments, which have been Carefully Culled, Collected & Classed by your Comical Cousin.”

Lady Susan was actually my favorite part of this collection though. While short, it was unlike anything else I’ve read by Jane. Here we have our heroine (anti-heroine perhaps?) who is a widow and older (I think late 30s, older 40s, which is well into spinster status at that time) who is still totally working the game and teasing basically any man she chooses. She thinks her daughter is a complete idiot (really she’s just timid), her only friend’s husband refuses to let his wife anywhere near her and she’s recently destroyed some woman’s marriage in London and sets her sites on her sister-in-law’s brother next. Susan is deceitful and manipulative, but boy was I rooting for her! The whole time I was wondering if she’d be shamed in the end, for being so sneaky and scandalous and clever, but instead she married some semi-rich guy and seemed likely to continue on with her player lifestyle. Susan was badass if you ask me!

As for The Watsons and Sandition, I didn’t really care for either. I realize they’re unfinished, and perhaps with a finished story from Jane and more editing, I would have felt differently. Instead, we’re left with fragments that just didn’t catch my interest, especially after the humor of her early works and the delightfully scandalous Lady Susan. To be honest, I didn’t even understand what was happening with The Watsons. I gathered there was some girl, who was not living with her parents for whatever reason, then came home to them, and there was a guy who was obnoxious…but isn’t there always? I actually had to read the wiki to find out the plot because I couldn’t keep anyone straight. The lack of paragraphs and the disappearing quotations might have had something to do with that as well. With Sandition I had a better idea of who was who, but the plot didn’t seem to be going anywhere that would have held my interest.

It was interesting to read the feedback she received on a couple of her novels too. Some of her family was rather insightful!

This is definitely a collection for established Austen lovers. Don’t start with this if you’ve never read her work. But if you’ve read and enjoyed at least a few of her novels, I think you’ll find something in here to enjoy. ( )
  MillieHennessy | Feb 23, 2016 |
The juvenilia included here, and Lady Susan, I absolutely loved. It's so much fun to see Austen being so playful and witty, unafraid of anything and just going full tilt. The Watsons I wasn't a huge fan of, but Sanditon I also found excellent, and wish it had been finished. Excellent to have all these great little examples of Austen's shorter fiction collected together in one tidy volume. ( )
  JBD1 | Aug 9, 2015 |
Something to read when I get some free time.
  19vatermit64 | Aug 23, 2011 |
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Chapman, R WEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192547070, Hardcover)

"R.W. Chapman's fine new edition has, among its other merits, the advantage of waking the Jane Austenite up.... The novels continue to live their own wonderful internal life...freshened and enriched by contact with the life of facts. His illustrations are beyond all praise."--E.M. Forster, Abinger Harvest.

This beautiful set provides the definitive text of Austen's six great comic masterpieces and her minor works (the latter include three high-spirited efforts written at about age fifteen; a charming fragment, The Watsons, which has been thought to be a sketch for Emma; and a tantalizing fragment, Sanditon, written in the last year of her life). All six volumes feature splendid early 19th-century illustrations as well as 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. Additional changes have been incorporated by Mary Lascelles.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:22 -0400)

This is one of a complete set of Jane Austen's novels collating the editions published during the author's lifetime and previously unpublished manuscripts. The books are illustrated with 19th century plates and incorporate revisions by experts in the light of subsequent research.… (more)

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