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Catharine: and Other Writings (Oxford World's Classics) (1993)

by Jane Austen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5141035,921 (3.82)33
Jane Austen's remarkable juvenilia date from 1787, when she was eleven, to 1793, when she was seventeen. She preserved these early writings in three manuscript notebooks, entitled, with mock solemnity, 'Volume the First', 'Volume the Second', and 'Volume the Third'. Most of these works are short fictions, but Austen also wrote the opening of what could have become a full-length novel, 'Catharine', as well as dramatic sketches, verses, and a few non-fictional pieces. Astonishingly sophisticated and inventive, these writings are now receiving the scholarly attention they deserve. This edition provides a fresh transcription of Austen's manuscripts, with comprehensive explanatory notes, an extensive critical introduction, covering the context and publication history of the juvenilia, a chronology of Austen's life and an authoritative textual apparatus. It also prints, for the first time, the copious satirical marginalia that Austen wrote on her copies of Oliver Goldsmith's History of England.… (more)
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» See also 33 mentions

English (9)  Italian (1)  All languages (10)
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Contains Volume the First, Volume the Second, Volume the Third, Plan of a Novel, List of Verses, Verses
  Buttercup25 | May 17, 2017 |
need to upload cover
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
This is one of the Cambridge series of Austen's work, so it's an all-out nerdathon. Let me put it this way: there are footnotes and endnotes. And lots of them. Like, only about half of this book is actually written by Austen. If that made you drool (or gave you a Special Feeling I don't want to hear about), get this particular edition.

If you love the idea of teenage Jane Austen goofing off on the page, but don't necessarily need to have every Regency phrase, concept, proper noun, common noun, adjective, adverb, conjunction-junction, and Austen-breakfast-of-choice explained in detail, grab one of the more affordable and less nerdarific editions of Austen's juvenilia. There are plenty to choose from.

Oh -- and bear in mind that this edition doesn't include Lady Susan. Whether that strikes you as good or bad news is between you and your God. (I know some people detest LS. I happen to find it awesome. I'll be the first to admit I'm weird.)

This is a collection of the many funny things Austen wrote as a teen to amuse herself and her family. If she had only lived long enough to write these tidbits, Austen wouldn't be a household name; but her name would certainly have survived, and nerds like me would be speculating as to what kind of adult work this promising young woman would have produced if she'd only had the chance.

(I realize I just posited a universe without Pride and Prejudice. I have to go make a cup of cocoa and hug my biggest, fluffiest stuffed animal. BRB.)

Do not expect cuteness. Austen's juvenile works are shocking so far as content is concerned. There's murder:

I murdered my father at a very early period of my Life, I have since murdered my Mother, and I am now going to murder my Sister. (from "A Letter from a Young Lady, whose feelings being too Strong for her Judgement led her into the commission of Errors which her Heart disapproved," a title almost longer than the story itself)

Suicide:

It was not till the next morning that Charlotte recollected the double engagement she had entered into [she said yes to two marriage proposals in the space of about ten minutes]; but when she did, the reflection of her past folly, operated so strongly on her mind, that she resolved to be guilty of a greater, & to that end threw herself into a deep stream which ran thro' her Aunt's pleasure Grounds in Portland Place. She floated to Crankhumdunberry where she was picked up & buried; the following epitaph, composed by Frederic, Elfrida & Rebecca, was placed on her tomb.

EPITAPH
Here lies our friend who having promis-ed
That unto two she would be marri-ed
Threw her sweet Body & her lovely face
Into the Stream that runs thro' Portland Place.


Drinking and gambling:

The Johnsons were a family of Love, & though a little addicted to the Bottle & the Dice, had many good Qualities. (They are later carried home from a party "Dead Drunk.")

Hooliganism:

The beautifull [sic] Cassandra then proceeded to a Pastry-cooks where she devoured six ices, refused to pay for them, knocked down the Pastry Cook & walked away.

Young women marrying solely for money:

"Oh! when there is so much Love on one side there is no occasion for it on the other. However I do not much dislike him tho' he is very plain to be sure."

And let's not forget cannibalism!

She began to find herself rather hungry, & had reason to think, by their biting off two of her fingers, that her Children were much in the same situation.

Note: if you only read Austen for the romance, you may want to skip this volume of her work. ( )
  Deborah_Markus | Aug 8, 2015 |
A collection of short stories and poetry by Jane Austen from when she was very young. So very different to anything she had written and had published later on in her life, the juvenalia is full of circumstances that are not found in her novels, including murder and characters being much more outspoken. This is the Regulated Hatred of Austen, but more profound and outspoken, perhaps not as regulated as her novels. A really good collection which shows a diversity in Austen that is not usually seen in her novels, and shows that her "regulated hatred" was concievable. ( )
  Xleptodactylous | Apr 7, 2015 |
This Oxford World's Classics edition contains the contents of three notebooks Jane Austen filled with writings as teenager (commonly known as her juvenilia) as well as some verses and prayers found amongst her later writings and the Plan of a Novel, according to hints from various quarters.

The most well known of her juvenilia pieces are Catharine, or the Bower which is an unfinished novel and Love and Freindship (sic), a novel told through a series of letters. Love and Freindship was my favourite of this collection; I thought it was outrageously funny and a brilliant parody of the over-sensibility shown by heroines in books at the time.

From Love and Freindship:
"My beloved Laura (said she to me a few Hours before she died) take warning from my unhappy End and avoid the imprudent conduct which had occasioned it... Beware of fainting-fits... Though at the time they may be refreshing and agreable yet beleive me they will in the end, if too often repeated and at improper seasons, prove destructive to your Constitution... My fate will teach you this.. I die a Martyr to my greif for the loss of Augustus.. One fatal swoon has cost me my Life.. Beware of swoons Dear Laura.... A frenzy fit is not one quarter so pernicious; it is an exercise to the Body and if not too violent, is I dare say conducive to Health in its consequences—Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint—" (all spellings as per Austen's manuscript)

Overall, I was struck by two things whilst reading these early works. Firstly, that Jane Austen was not just incredibly well read as a teenager (which would be a not inconsiderable achievement on its own) but also how well she understood the structure of novels at such a young age to be able to turn that structure on its head in her own writings and what an accomplishment that was.

Secondly, how different these early pieces feel compared to her later writings. I saw someone comment somewhere that Jane Austen's juvenilia reads like Monty Python and I think that sums up the surreal humour of these early works very well. When I say they are outrageously funny that's because the characters in these stories so often do behave outrageously: they lie, cheat and steal, sometimes murder and any marriages that take place in the stories are not done legally. These are stories written to be read aloud to friends and family, not to be published, and they are often shocking; the Austen family must have had a very well-developed sense of humour to allow and encourage their teenage daughter to write such things. They are very different in style to her published writings (although most similar to Northanger Abbey), and this is why Margaret Doody has theorised (in the Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen) that Austen had to change her writing style in order to get her works published in the more strict early 19th century.

From Margaret Doody's introduction:
"She could not laugh so loudly in the later works. She could not be as wild as she had been in the notebook volumes. She had to become genteel and act like a lady."

I was bowled over by the skill Austen shows in these early works (some written when she was half my age). They're not subtle, they're surreal rather than realistic and they are very different from her published novels but I don't think they should be considered as immature writings or failed attempts at her later books. I think they stand alone on their own merits if you can accept them as something very different from the Jane Austen you may be familiar with.

If you enjoyed Austen's humour and sense of fun in Northanger Abbey and Lady Susan then I think you will find those characteristics present in these early stories too. If you've not been that keen on Austen because you think she just writes nice romance stories where the hero and heroine always live happily ever after then these early works might give you a different perspective on her as a writer.

If you're not familiar with 18th century fiction then I'd recommend reading an edition with notes to help you spot the references. I thought the Oxford World's Classics edition edited by Margaret Anne Doody and Douglas Murray was very good: the notes don't just tell you which novels are being referenced but also explain what the editors think Jane Austen was intending with the references which I found very valuable. ( )
27 vote souloftherose | Apr 10, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jane Austenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Doody, Margaret AnneEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giuseppe IerolliEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murray, DouglasEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Lo Zio di Elfrida era il Padre di Frederic; in altre parole, erano

cugini da parte di Padre.

(Frederic and Elfrida)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Contains 27 Juvenilia pieces:

(Volume the First) Frederic and Elfrida -- Jack and Alice -- Edgar and Emma -- Henry and Eliza -- The adventures of Mr Harley -- Sir William Mountague -- Memoirs of Mr Clifford -- The beautifull Cassandra -- Amelia Webster -- The visit -- The mystery -- The three sisters -- A beautiful description -- The generous curate -- Ode to pity --

(Volume the Second) Love and friendship -- Lesley Castle -- The history of England -- A collection of letters -- The female philosopher -- The first act of a comedy -- A letter from a young lady -- A tour through Wales -- A tale --

(Volume the Third)Evelyn -- Catharine, or the Bower.
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Jane Austen's remarkable juvenilia date from 1787, when she was eleven, to 1793, when she was seventeen. She preserved these early writings in three manuscript notebooks, entitled, with mock solemnity, 'Volume the First', 'Volume the Second', and 'Volume the Third'. Most of these works are short fictions, but Austen also wrote the opening of what could have become a full-length novel, 'Catharine', as well as dramatic sketches, verses, and a few non-fictional pieces. Astonishingly sophisticated and inventive, these writings are now receiving the scholarly attention they deserve. This edition provides a fresh transcription of Austen's manuscripts, with comprehensive explanatory notes, an extensive critical introduction, covering the context and publication history of the juvenilia, a chronology of Austen's life and an authoritative textual apparatus. It also prints, for the first time, the copious satirical marginalia that Austen wrote on her copies of Oliver Goldsmith's History of England.

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