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Emma by Jane Austen

Emma (1816)

by Jane Austen, Jane Austen (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
26,87137237 (4.08)3 / 1473
  1. 164
    Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (ncgraham)
    ncgraham: Flora is very clearly modeled on Emma.
  2. 62
    The Makioka Sisters by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki (Sarasamsara)
    Sarasamsara: Like Austen's novels, The Makioka Sisters traces the daily lives and romances of an upper-class family-- the only difference is that this is pre-war Japan, not Regency England. Like in one of Austen's works, when you close the novel you feel like you are closing the door on someone's life.… (more)
  3. 63
    Miss Marjoribanks by Margaret Oliphant (nessreader)
    nessreader: Both Emma and Miss M are about ambitious, capable upper class women who can only express themselves as social hostesses. Both heroines are managing and bossy - Miss M, a generation younger, is played more for laughs, but there is a strong parallel. And both end in utter satisfaction for heroine and reader alike.… (more)
  4. 30
    Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell (kara.shamy)
    kara.shamy: In some ways the heroines in these two novels are alike, but they are very different in other respects, and more strikingly, their respective journeys to the altar/married life go in diametrically opposite ways, in a sense! Both are true classics in my estimation; reading these two novels exposes the reader to two of the greatest English-language novelists of all time in the height of their respective powers. While all readers and critics do not and will not share this superlative view, few would dispute these are two early female masters of the form and are well worth a read on that humbler basis ;) Enjoy!… (more)
  5. 22
    The Scandal of the Season: A Novel by Sophie Gee (SandSing7)
  6. 23
    The Victorian Governess by Kathryn Hughes (susanbooks)
    susanbooks: Though Austen is writing before the Victorian age, Hughes' book helps give an idea of the kind of life Jane Fairfax was facing.
  7. 25
    The Espressologist by Kristina Springer (dizzyweasel)
    dizzyweasel: Adorable remake of Emma, set in a coffeehouse with a matchmaking barista.
  8. 411
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (roby72)
1810s (3)

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Showing 1-5 of 348 (next | show all)
Persuasion - Pride&Prejudice - Sense and Sensibility > Emma

I've liked every single Austen' heroin more than Emma. The book title being 'Emma' didn't help either. But I do recommend checking out a webseries about this novel called "Emma approved". Was a refreshingly different modern spin on the plot. ( )
  newcastlee | Dec 30, 2017 |
I just love me some Victorian snark. ( )
  chelseaknits | Dec 14, 2017 |
I wonder if a variation on the Unreliable Narrator is permissible here? Jane Austen's Emma, while narrated solely by the author herself, is told exclusively from the title character's point of view (chime in and correct me if there are scenes in which she doesn't take part, however minor) so that Austen becomes Emma's interpreter, and our interlocutor. It's a very deliberate choice, because Austen then goes on deftly but in plain sight to give you every reason to question Emma's headlong conclusions, while knowing full well that you'll simply go right along with Emma anyway. Surprisingly, none of this feels tricksy or opportunistic, though of course it might had Austen not had this particular objective unwaveringly in her sights: The Unreliable Reader. If we look at the story from within Emma's world, she's a classic unreliable narrator, primarily to poor Harriet Smith. Emma's wishful and willful narratives consistently mislead Harriet, who depends entirely on Emma's versions of things. To make matters more complex, Emma really should have known better, as she admits (to her credit) when her eyes are opened. Nor is Emma the only unreliable narrator. She is misled in her turn by Frank Churchill's camouflaging accounts of his relationship to Jane Fairfax. Again, the reliability angle is enriched when Frank thinks at one point that Emma does perceive his attachment to Jane.

In fact, there is one scene in which Emma doesn't appear, one that fits into your interpretation. It's the conversation between Mrs. Weston and Mr. Knightley about whether Emma's friendship with Harriet is desirable or not. Mrs. Weston sees the matter fondly through Emma's eyes, while Mr. Knightley's cooler assessment sees the situation accurately. Mr. Knightley and Mr. John Knightley could be called reliable narrators of the story. Again significantly for your thesis, each attempts to alert Emma to her mistaken narratives. Mr. Knightley tells her realistically about Harriet's prospects and Robert Martin's virtues, and shares his suspicions about an attachment between Frank and Jane. Mr. John Knightley gives her a hint about Mr. Elton's real intentions. Of course, they don't make a dent.

Now I've got myself really thinking, and I realise . . . I forgot Miss Bates, the most persistent narrator of them all! I'd call her a reliable narrator because her stream-of-consciousness approach ends up letting us know her entire (and exhaustive) fact-base. She also tells us her certainty values.

I've read Emma countless times, but I still laugh out loud at the pork-and-Mr.-Elton scene:

“Full of thanks, and full of news, Miss Bates knew not which to give quickest. Mr. Knightley soon saw that he had lost his moment, and that not another syllable of communication could rest with him.
‘Oh! my dear sir, how are you this morning? My dear Miss Woodhouse---I come quite overpowered. Such a beautiful hind-quarter of pork! You are too bountiful! Have you heard the news? Mr. Elton is going to be married.’"

This scene goes exactly to the narrator issue, when Miss Bates nearly backs herself into the corner of naming Highbury's corporate speculation that Mr. Elton would propose to Emma:

"A Miss Hawkins.---Well, I had always rather fancied it would be some young lady hereabouts; not that I ever-----Mrs. Cole once whispered to me---but I immediately said, 'No, Mr. Elton is a most worthy young man---but'-----In short, I do not think I am particularly quick at those sort of discoveries. I do not pretend to it. What is before me, I see. At the same time, nobody could wonder if Mr. Elton should have aspired-----Miss Woodhouse let me chatter on, so good-humouredly. She knows I would not offend for the world. How does Miss Smith do?"

How different from the Mr. Knightleys, and yet Miss Bates's native honesty and good will keep her on the straight and narrow. She knows (and as importantly, reports) when she's drawing a conclusion, when her memory might be at fault, etc.

What a masterly triumph for Jane Austen, to have Miss Bates, of all people, win the Reliable Narrator Sweepstakes! LOL, indeed!

The famous Irony that Austen deployed (and refined to its utmost in Emma) is, rather than being crudely and obviously signposted, actually embedded in the means of the narrative. We are constantly seduced into Emma's solipsism because it flatters our own - we even fail to pull up the drawbridge during that famous opening sentence because we so wish to believe that a pretty, rich, single, and indulged young woman could have 'anything to vex her'. Or us. The reason the Box Hill episode is so painful - to Miss Bates, as much as to the reader (and, eventually, Emma) - is that Miss Bates is wholly without guile. It's the book's first real gathering-of-clouds warning that we are not reading this story as it needs to be read: that we are in danger of wafting away on the brio of Emma's self-satisfaction, and using it to fluff the duvet of our own. After all, Emma is gravely wrong three times over (towards Harriet, Jane Fairfax, and Miss Bates), and because of her position of influence it's in her hands to materially affect their lives. Potentially, she can ruin Harriet's prospects, cast malicious shade on Jane's reputation, and fatally disturb Miss Bates's peace. She's lucky that the damage was limited in the first two cases and that Miss Bates was capable of recovering in the third.

I see Emma as a miracle novel---a perfect comedy of manners taking place in the perfect confessional world of Highbury, and yet as serious in its moral content as Mansfield Park. I think Emma becomes a sympathetic moral character when we allow her to be a mirror for ourselves.

The book is a brilliant and unique accomplishment in literature, and is the reason it's still one of my favourite novels, even though I'm more temperamentally drawn to some others. ( )
  antao | Dec 14, 2017 |
The last time I read Jane Austen's Emma was long before I had seen the movie with Gwyneth Paltrow. Since then I've seen the movie maybe half a dozen times, as it's become one of my girls' favorites. Because I've seen it so many times, the movie has overshadowed the book in my memory. So as I picked up my Kindle to read the novel for my Classics Club Challenge I was curious about how different the two might be and how the movie would stand up next to the book. I am pleased to say that the movie and the book complement each other quite well. While I have a few quibbles with the movie, overall I think it stays true to the spirit of the book and the characters. However, there are a few key differences that show once again that a movie is never as good as the book.

First, the Emma Woodhouse of Austen's novel comes across as more immature than Gwyneth Paltrow's portrayal of her in the movie. Even though Paltrow was only twenty-four when she played the twenty-one-year-old, she seems older to me than the Emma of the novel. Austen's Emma seems more naive and spoiled, which adds to her character.

The other main difference that struck me was how much Frank Churchill's background is fleshed out in the novel. His character fits in much more naturally in the novel than in the movie, where Ewan McGregor and his horribly styled hair seem to just pop up out of nowhere.

The final thing that occurred to me as I read the book was just how ahead of her time Jane Austen was as an author. Though she predated writers like Dickens, Tolstoy, and Hugo, Austen's writing is much more concise, much more direct, much more modern--so much so that Emma could almost be filmed scene by scene exactly as written.

For modern readers, Emma is perhaps the most accessible of all the 19th century classics, and those who like the movie will like the book even more. ( )
  nsenger | Nov 12, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 348 (next | show all)
The institution of marriage, like the novel itself, has changed greatly since Austen’s time; but as long as human beings long for this kind of mutual recognition and understanding, “Emma” will live.
added by danielx | editNew York TImes, Adam Kirsch (pay site) (Dec 27, 2015)

“Perhaps the key to Emma’s perfection, however, is that it is a comic novel, written in a mode that rarely gets much respect. It’s exquisitely ironic.”

“The presiding message of the novel is that we must forgive Emma for her shortcomings just as she can and does learn to excuse the sometimes vexing people around her. There is, I believe, more wisdom in that than in many, many more portentous and ambitious novels. Emma is flawed, but ‘Emma’ is flawless."
added by danielx | editSalon.com, Laura Miller (Dec 23, 2015)
It’s a small but striking and instructive demonstration, the careful way Emma appraises the character of the various men who jockey for her attentions and those of the women around her. We could all learn from her example.
added by danielx | editNew York Times, Anna Holmes (pay site) (Dec 1, 2015)
"In January 1814, Jane Austen sat down to write a revolutionary novel. Emma, the book she composed over the next year, was to change the shape of what is possible in fiction."

"The novel’s stylistic innovations allow it to explore not just a character’s feelings, but, comically, her deep ignorance of her own feelings. "

"Those who condemn the novel by saying that its heroine is a snob miss the point. Of course she is. But Austen, with a refusal of moralism worthy of Flaubert, abandons her protagonist to her snobbery and confidently risks inciting foolish readers to think that the author must be a snob too"

» Add other authors (131 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jane Austenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Austen, JaneAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beechey, WilliamCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blythe, RonaldEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brock, C. E.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibbons, StellaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hassall, JoanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hough, GrahamEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lane, MaggiePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marcus, StevenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morgan, VictoriaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moulton, CarrollAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Praz, MarioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ross, JosephinePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanderson, CarolinePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stafford, FionaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, JulietNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tamaki, JillianCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wiltshire, JohnPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Important events
Related movies
Emma (1948TVIMDb)
Awards and honors
First words
Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.
Emma Woodhouse was een aantrekkelijke en intelligente jonge dame van zeer goeden huize.
Deemed her finest and most representative novel by many modern readers, Emma was something of a mystery to Austen's contemporaries when it appeared in 1816. (Introduction)
The drama and the comedy of Austen's novels are dependent on a sharp awareness of fine social distinctions. (Appendix A: Rank and Social Status)
Whether it took place in private houses, or at public assemblies held at inns or purpose-built assembly rooms, social dancing in polite society was governed in Austen's time by strict rules of etiquette, the broad outlines of which dated back to Beau Nash's 'Rules to be observ'd at Bath' of 1706. (Appendix B: Dancing)
Silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way.
"I thank you; but I assure you, you are quite mistaken. Mr. Elton and I are very good friends, and nothing more, and she walked on, amusing herself in the consideration of the blunders which often arise from a partial knowledge of circumstances, of the mistakes which people of high pretensions to judgment are for every falling into..." (Emma)
"I always deserve the best treatment because I never put up with any other."
Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure.
I have seen a great many lists of her drawing up at various times of books that she meant to read regularly through--and very good books they were--very well chosen and very neatly arranged--sometimes alphabetically and sometimes by some other rule.
Last words
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Emma is perhaps too accustomed to thinking of herself as the queen of her genteel Surrey village. Petted by her invalidish father and her former governess, idolised by old Mrs Bates and her garrulous, good-hearted daughter, she finds only Mr Knightley ready - too ready - to criticise her. He deprecates her schemes for the pretty foundling Harriet and her coolness towards the elegant, reserved Jane Fairfax. And, unaccountably, he seems to disapprove of the handsome Frank Churchill... With cheerful self-confidence Emma interferes in the lives and loves of all her circle. A plot as intricate as a classic detective story leaves the reader as astonished as its heroine when the true state of affairs is revealed. She arrives, almost too late, at a self-knowledge which humbles her considerably. This masterpiece of social observation and comic plotting offers inexhaustible pleasure, laughter and enlightenment.
Haiku summary
Mix-match my neighbors
Cutest narcissist am I
Don't listen to me
(city girl)
Bossy know-it-all
Privileged and doted on
Meddles. Learns lessons.
She can do no wrong
Matchmaking busybody
Knightley sets things right.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0141439580, Paperback)

Of all Jane Austen's heroines, Emma Woodhouse is the most flawed, the most infuriating, and, in the end, the most endearing. Pride and Prejudice's Lizzie Bennet has more wit and sparkle; Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey more imagination; and Sense and Sensibility's Elinor Dashwood certainly more sense--but Emma is lovable precisely because she is so imperfect. Austen only completed six novels in her lifetime, of which five feature young women whose chances for making a good marriage depend greatly on financial issues, and whose prospects if they fail are rather grim. Emma is the exception: "Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her." One may be tempted to wonder what Austen could possibly find to say about so fortunate a character. The answer is, quite a lot.

For Emma, raised to think well of herself, has such a high opinion of her own worth that it blinds her to the opinions of others. The story revolves around a comedy of errors: Emma befriends Harriet Smith, a young woman of unknown parentage, and attempts to remake her in her own image. Ignoring the gaping difference in their respective fortunes and stations in life, Emma convinces herself and her friend that Harriet should look as high as Emma herself might for a husband--and she zeroes in on an ambitious vicar as the perfect match. At the same time, she reads too much into a flirtation with Frank Churchill, the newly arrived son of family friends, and thoughtlessly starts a rumor about poor but beautiful Jane Fairfax, the beloved niece of two genteelly impoverished elderly ladies in the village. As Emma's fantastically misguided schemes threaten to surge out of control, the voice of reason is provided by Mr. Knightly, the Woodhouse's longtime friend and neighbor. Though Austen herself described Emma as "a heroine whom no one but myself will much like," she endowed her creation with enough charm to see her through her most egregious behavior, and the saving grace of being able to learn from her mistakes. By the end of the novel Harriet, Frank, and Jane are all properly accounted for, Emma is wiser (though certainly not sadder), and the reader has had the satisfaction of enjoying Jane Austen at the height of her powers. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:02 -0400)

(see all 11 descriptions)

Emma Woodhouse is one of Austen's most captivating and vivid characters. Beautiful, spoilt, vain and irrepressibly witty, Emma organizes the lives of the inhabitants of her sleepy little village and plays matchmaker with devastating effect.

» see all 78 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439580, 0141028092, 0143106465, 0141199520

Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909175951, 1909175315

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