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Love and Freindship

I Love Jane Austen

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Aug 27, 2012, 5:32pm Top

I just finished this book of early works by Jane Austen, and got a kick out of it. Here's the LT review I gave it:

Love and Freindship by Jane Austen was written when she was 14 and 15 (mine has her History of England in it, too). Mainly in the form of letters, outrageous spoofs of the romance genre abound. There is some presaging of what is to come with this author, with discussions of the importance of marriage and wealth, obsessions with appearance, inflated pomposity, and more. The writing is impressive - she has a remarkable sense of flow and timing even at such a young age. The spelling disarmingly needs work, particularly on the "i before e" rule.

And large swatches are really funny. The young, love-obsessed duo of Laura and Sophia regularly faint at unexpected romantic developments:

"She (Sophia) was all Sensibility and Feeling. We flew into each other's arms and after having exchanged vows of mutual Freindship for the rest of our Lives, instantly unfolded to each other the most inward secrets of our Hearts. -- We were interrupted in the delightfull Employment by the entrance of Augustus (Edward's freind), who was just returned from a solitary ramble. Never did I see such an affecting Scene as was the meeting of Edward and Augustus.
"My Life! my Soul!" (exclaimed the former) "My Adorable Angel!" (replied the latter), as they flew into each other's arms. It was too pathetic for the feelings of Sophia and myself -- We fainted alternately on a sofa".

Perhaps as a sign of maturity, Laura begins instead to regularly "shriek and run mad" at dramatic moments in her life. Soon they are comparing the health benefits of the two, with frenzied fits having the benefit of warmth in the blood and exercise. During a quiet moment, an unplanned entry into a dark carriage one night turns out to be a coincidental reunion with most of Laura's relatives (the carriage somehow having tardis-like proportions), two of whom had stolen money from her during one of her fainting fits.

It's believed that Austen would read installments of Love and Freindship aloud at night to entertain her family. One can easily imagine the family's laughter at the wit of this young teen writer, and the exhilaration of her emerging talent.

This would not be the place to start reading Jane Austen (too juvenile in the end), and it's hard to imagine someone choosing to read it who is not already a fan of the author via her novels. But for those who are fans, it's a lucky chance to share in the humorous tales of a hugely talented young girl who became one of the world's most famous authors.

* * *

I suspect there are members of this group who know a heck of a lot more about Jane Austen and this collection than I do. Any comments would be welcome. It made me think of the humor of Northanger Abbey, although in NA the humor is more subtle by a long shot.

Aug 27, 2012, 6:55pm Top

Which edition did you manage to find? :)
I've read most (all?) of her adolescent prose in the Oxford's World Classics volume. Most of the stories are charming. :)

Aug 28, 2012, 10:39am Top

You know, Annie, I got it on Kindle for free. I'm checking right now. Ah, okay, it just says "A Public Domain Book". Maybe Project Gutenberg?

Besides three groups of letters, it has the History of England, the Female Philosopher, the First Act of a Comedy, and A Tale.

I found her adolescent writings charming, too, as you can tell. Is there an advantage to reading the Oxford Classics Volume, e.g. commentary?

Aug 28, 2012, 11:57am Top

No - not really - not much of a commentary in it. It's just the one I have. :)

Aug 28, 2012, 12:13pm Top

Ah,, okay. I couldn't resist the price (free). :-) That's been one of the major benefits of having the Kindle. (Another being convenience for travel - it made life a lot easier on a lengthy plane flight from the U.S. to Australia and back).

Aug 28, 2012, 12:24pm Top

:) Yeah, I know. Or to always have a book with you when you step out of the house for an hour and end up staying put for a few hours.

Aug 28, 2012, 12:35pm Top

Yes - my much better half got a bit annoyed this weekend when I brought my Kindle to breakfast at a restaurant with our daughter (in her 20s now), but I've been left alone at the table before and I'd like to have a book with me! My first instinct is to grab it these days if we're going somewhere.

Edited: Aug 29, 2012, 9:46pm Top

I also read and own Catharine and Other Stories which is a compilation of Austen's juvenile and other miscellaneous writings. "Love & Friendship" is included in this book. There's a lengthy section of textual and explanatory notes at the end.

Aug 31, 2012, 10:59am Top

Thanks, princessgarnet. I'll look for that - the textual and explanatory notes would be fun, as I'd like to know a little more about this part of her life, and the background to these stories.

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