Preview of Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Oxford World’s Classics) New Edition

Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Oxford World's Classics) 2011We have several of Oxford World’s Classics editions in our library and are quite partial to their expanded editions. From Austen to Radcliffe to Burney to Gaskell, whatever they take on, their introductions and supplemental material are excellent.

The news of this new revised paperback edition of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford is quite exciting. Due out on June 9, 2011 in the UK and August 15, 2011 in the US from Oxford University Press, it will include a new introduction, notes and additional supplemental material. We are quite certain that our friend Katherine at Gaskell Blog will also be anxious to get her mits on it too. Here is a description from the publisher:

A vivid and affectionate portrait of a provincial town in early Victorian England, Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford describes a community dominated by its independent and refined women. This edition includes two related short pieces by Gaskell, “The Last Generation in England” and “The Cage at Cranford.” Dinah Birch’s introduction reflects recent revaluations of Gaskell’s work and the growing recognition that Cranford is much more than the gently charming comedy that is was once taken to be. The book includes an up-to-date bibliography and expanded notes.

Features

  • A new edition of a much-loved classic, Elizabeth Gaskell’s comic portrayal of a Victorian small town dominated by women.
  • Dinah Birch’s introduction reflects recent revaluations of Gaskell’s work, focusing on Gaskell’s response to social change as it transformed the lives of provincial women, and the growing recognition that Cranford is much more than the gently charming comedy that is was once taken to be.
  • Includes two related short stories, ‘The Cage at Cranford’ and ‘The Last Generation in England’.
  • An appendix includes a selection of extracts from Dickens, Dinah Craik, Wilkie Collins, Ruskin and other contemporary novelists and social commentators on the coming of the railway, banking failures, household management, fashion, Oriental entertainers and the novel’s first reviewers to illustrate the diverse contexts in which Cranford took its place.
  • Up-to-date bibliography and expanded notes.
  • Introduction by Dinah Birch.
  • Up–to-date bibliography.
  • Revised chronology.
  • Explanatory Notes by Dinah Birch.
  • Appendix of contemporary responses to the novel and contemporary comment on household management, costume, financial and commercial controversies relevant to the text.
  • Reset Gaskell text.

Product Details

Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Oxford World’s Classic)
Oxford University Press (June 9, 2011 in UK) (Aug 15, 2011 in US)
Trade paperback (256) pages
ISBN:  978-019955830

About the editors

Elizabeth Porges Watson is Lecturer in English at the University of Nottingham. Dinah Birch is Professor of English Literature at the University of Liverpool.

Many of you may be familiar with the story of Cranford from the two BBC/PBS mini-series starring Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins and an incredible British cast. It was a delightful adaptation of Gaskell’s short stories and we encourage you to read our reviews and seek out this new edition of the novel when it is released in August. Mrs. Gaskell’s characterizations are humorous, charming and poignant, and we are very pleased to see her being given this new edition which appears to be quite thorough in scholarly research and engaging detail.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition, by Jane Austen, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks – A Review

Just when I thought I had more editions of Pride and Prejudice than I should ever own up to, I will freely admit to just one more. After all, what Janeite could resist this tempting package? An unabridged first edition text; Annotations by an Austen scholar; Color illustrations; Over-sized coffee table format; Extensive introduction; And, supplemental material – all pulled together in a beautifully designed interior and stunning cover. *swoon* Where are my aromatic vinegars?

This new annotated edition appeals to modern readers on many levels beyond being a pretty package of a beloved classic. Austen is renowned for her witty dialogue and finely drawn characters, but not for her elaborate physical descriptions or historical context. When Pride and Prejudice was originally published in 1813, this brevity was accessible to her contemporary readers who assumed the inferences, but after close to two hundred years words have changed their meaning, insinuations and subtle asides have become fuzzy, and cultural differences from Regency to twenty-first century are worlds apart. Anyone can read Pride and Prejudice and follow the narrative, but it is so much more enjoyable if you can read it on an expanded level understanding it in social, cultural and historical context. Editor Patricia Meyer Spacks has not only added extensive notes on plot, characters, events, history, culture and critical analysis from a vast array of Austen and literary scholars, but added her own personal insights and observations from years of reading Austen and her experience as a college professor. From shoe roses to Fordyces Sermons to military floggings to the 19th-century meaning of condescension, readers will be informed and enlightened on every aspect related to the novel, the author and her times. In a nut shell, she has vetted great resources, gathered nuggets of knowledge and placed them at our feet.

As with all of Austen’s characters, this new annotated edition of Pride and Prejudice has its own charms, “frailties, foibles and follies.” Weighing in at over three pounds, and encompassing 464 pages of unabridged text and fine print margin notes, this book easily reigns as the most all-inclusive and well-researched editions of Jane Austen’s masterpiece that I have ever encountered. Considering that the elaborate annotation classifies it as a reference work in addition to a full text, it is quite puzzling that it lacks an index. In addition, the illustrations are expertly selected but sadly lost some of their refinement in the printing process, coming across dark and murky in places. However, I was pleased to see a list of further reading and illustration credits listed in the back of the book to encourage readers to “add something more substantial, in the improvement of [their] minds by extensive reading.

Beautiful, sumptuous and satisfying, Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition is a monumental achievement that should be on the top of your holiday wish list and considered one of few editions available to be esteemed truly accomplished.

5 of of 5 Regency Stars

Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition, by Jane Austen, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (2010)
Hardcover (464) pages
ISBN: 978-0674049161

© 2007 – 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Birth with a Blog Tour on September 29th, 2010

“He shrank from hearing Margaret’s very name mentioned; he, while he blamed her–while he was jealous of her–while he renounced her–he loved her sorely, in spite of himself.” Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South

2010 marks the bicentenary of mid-Victorian novelist and short story writer Elizabeth Gaskell’s birth on September 29th, 1810 near London. Best known for her detailed and sensitive portrayals of English social strata, her novels are cherished by literature lovers and social historians for their honest depiction of the life of rich and poor from the first half of the nineteenth century. Five of her books have also been brought vividly to the screen in television mini-series adaptations: The Brontes of Haworth (1973), North and South (1975 & 2004), Wives and Daughters (1999), Cranford (2007) and Return to Cranford (2009).

To honor Mrs. Gaskell’s literary achievement, please join me and other fellow Gaskell enthusiasts for a blog tour in celebration of her birthday. Visit any of the participant’s blogs on Wednesday, September 29th to read about her life and times, and reviews of books and movie film adaptations. On each of the sites you will also find a link to take you to the next blog on the tour. Enjoy!

Biography

  • 1.) Elizabeth Gaskell’s life and times: Vic – Jane Austen’s World

Novels/Biography

  • 2.) Mary Barton (1848) Book: Kelly – Jane Austen Sequel Examiner
  • 3.) Cranford (2007) Movie: Laura – The Calico Critic
  • 4.) Ruth (1853) Book: Joanna – Regency Romantic
  • 5.) North and South (1854–5) Book: Laurel Ann – Austenprose
  • 6.) North and South (2004) Movie: Maria – Fly High
  • 7.) Sylvia’s Lovers (1863) Book: Courtney – Stiletto Storytime
  • 8.) Wives and Daughters (1865) Book: Katherine – November’s Autumn
  • 9.) Wives and Daughters (1999) Movie: Elaine – Random Jottings
  • 10.) The Life of Charlotte Bronte (1857) Book & (1973) Movie, The Brontes of Haworth: JaneGS – Reading, Writing, Working, Playing

 

Novellas

  • 11. Mr. Harrison’s Confessions (1851) Book: Alexandra – The Sleepless Reader
  • 12. My Lady Ludlow (1859) Book: Alexandra – The Sleepless Reader
  • 13. Cousin Phillis (1864) Book: Alexandra – The Sleepless Reader

Resources

  • 14.) Your Gaskell Library – Links to MP3’s, ebooks, audio books, other downloads and reading resources available online: Janite Deb – Jane Austen in Vermont
  • 15) Plymouth Grove – A Visit to Elizabeth Gaskell’s home in Manchester: Tony Grant – London Calling

Sometimes one likes foolish people for their folly, better than wise people for their wisdom.” Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters

Portrait of Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (née Stevenson), by George Richmond, chalk, 1851. Bequeathed to the © National Portrait Gallery, London by the sitter’s daughter, Margaret Emily Gaskell, 1913

Elizabeth Gaskell birthday blog tour graphic by Katherine Cox of November’s Autumn

Jane Austen and the ‘father of the novel’ – Samuel Richardson

Gentle readers: Last week I reviewed Lynn Shepherd’s new Austen inspired mystery Murder at Mansfield Park. Not only is she an accomplished novelist, she is a distinguished Samuel Richardson scholar with a new book Clarissa’s Painter: Portraiture, Illustration, and Representation in the Novels of Samuel Richardson, published by the venerable Oxford University Press. Richardson was Jane Austen’s favorite novelist and I could not pass up the opportunity for Lynn to chat about his impact on her writing and the English novel. This is her generous contribution. Enjoy!

What influence did Samuel Richardson have on novels like Mansfield Park?

Jane Austen’s biographers often have to resort to guesswork and speculation about many aspects of her life, but there’s one thing we do know, and that’s who her favourite author was. According to her nephew, James-Edward Austen-Leigh, her knowledge of Samuel Richardson “was such as no one is likely again to acquire . . . Every circumstance narrated in Sir Charles Grandison, all that was said or done in the cedar parlour, was familiar to her; and the wedding days of [characters like] Lady L. and Lady G. were as well remembered as if they had been living friends.”

Richardson is a literary hero of mine, too, and I always think it’s sad that so few people read him nowadays. Not only because Clarissa, in particular, is one of the great masterpieces of European literature, but because it’s only by reading Richardson that you really understand the tradition Austen was writing in, and where she got some of the inspiration for her books.

So who was Samuel Richardson?

Academics and critics have been arguing for years about who wrote the first English novel. Some argue for Defoe and Robinson Crusoe, others for Fielding, but I’ve always been a firm supporter of Pamela, which Richardson published in 1740.

Pamela is a novel-in-letters, written by a young serving-maid to her parents, in which she describes her master’s attempts to seduce her. But as the subtitle (‘Virtue Rewarded’) suggests, all’s well that ends with a wedding. It sounds pretty standard stuff now, but at the time it was a publishing sensation.  There were 5 editions by the end of 1741, with an estimated 20,000 copies sold. It was also the first book to have what we would now call a ‘promotional campaign’. As a printer himself, Richardson employed all the tricks of the book-trade, including newspaper leaders and celebrity endorsement, and may even have encouraged the publication of a pamphlet that denounced the novel as pornographic, which certainly had a predictably healthy effect on sales!

But if it was Pamela that was ground-breaking, Richardson’s next novel, Clarissa, is the one that really established a new kind of prose fiction in English. This, like all Richardson’s books, is an epistolary novel, and it’s worth remembering that when Austen first put pen to paper seriously herself, she chose exactly this form – first in Lady Susan, and then in Elinor & Marianne, the first version of Sense & Sensibility. Clarissa is the story of a young woman who’s tricked away from her family by the libertine, Robert Lovelace, and eventually raped. The story evolves through two parallel correspondences – Clarissa’s with her friend Anna, and Lovelace’s with his confidant Belford. The depth and subtlety of the psychological characterisation is extraordinary, and you can see immediately why Henry Austen says his sister was such an admirer of “Richardson’s power of creating, and preserving, the consistency of his characters.” However, Clarissa is undeniably a very long read, so if you’d like a taster first, I recommend the BBC adaptation starring Sean Bean. It’s quite old now, but really worth taking a look at.

Sir Charles Grandison

The interesting point about that last quote, though, is that it’s actually about Sir Charles Grandison, Richardson’s last, longest, and least interesting book. All the same it was undeniably Austen’s favourite, and the one that had the most direct influence on her literary technique. As the critic Marilyn Butler has said, “Sir Charles Grandison contributed more than any other single book to the tradition of social comedy… which Jane Austen inherited.” Again and again, you can see Austen using characters and episodes from Richardson, and re-working them for her own purposes. If you’re interested there’s an excellent book on this whole subject by Jocelyn Harris called Jane Austen’s Art of Memory.

The parallels between Grandison and Mansfield Park, in particular, are especially interesting. Both books deal with similar themes, like marriage, education, and the relationships between parents and children, but there are also some striking similarities between many of the characters, notably the respective heroes and heroines – Fanny Price and Harriet Byron, and Edmund Bertram and Sir Charles. For example, both Fanny and Harriet are either literally or effectively orphans, who are adopted by a much richer family: as a result they both acquire two ‘sisters’ and a ‘brother’ they rapidly fall for, even though the man himself is in love with someone else entirely.

There’s no question that Austen loved Sir Charles Grandison, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t prepared to send it up gently. Isabella Tilney famously calls it an ‘amazing horrid book’, and sometime in the 1790s Jane and her niece Anna worked together to turn Richardson’s million-word novel into a ten-minute comic play for the family to perform. Though that’s rather easier than it sounds, because so little actually happens in Grandison: Sir Walter Scott recalled an old lady telling him she always chose to have that book read to her, because “should I drop asleep in course of the reading, I am sure, when I awake, I shall have lost none of the story, but shall find the party, where I left them, conversing in the cedar-parlour.”

One reason I mention this is because it’s something I always say to people who say you should never tinker with a literary classic like Austen, whether by writing sequels or pastiches, or creating new versions based on her works, like my own Murder at Mansfield Park. It’s useful to remind ourselves that Jane Austen did exactly the same thing, using Richardson both as the source text for a youthful skit, and – more seriously – as an important inspiration for her mature novels.  On that basis I think she’d be flattered that nearly 200 years after her death, so many of us still turn to her books to find inspiration for new work of our own.

Fast facts about the ‘Father of the Novel’

  • Born near Derby in 1689, Richardson was married twice and had six sons and six daughters, of whom only four girls survived.  His education was limited, but he became an extremely successful printer in London, not putting pen to paper on his own account until he was 50.
  • At the age of 13, Richardson was making money writing love-letters for young women he knew, an experience he claimed gave him his knowledge of the female heart.
  • When the villagers of Slough read of Pamela’s wedding in the newspaper they ran the church bell in celebration.
  • You can actually read Clarissa in ‘real time’, starting on January 10th, and finishing on December 18th.

They said…

“This Richardson is a strange fellow. I heartily despise him, and eagerly read him, nay, sob over his works in a most scandalous manner.” Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

“If you were to read Richardson for the story, your impatience would be so much fretted that you would hang yourself. But you must read him for the sentiment, and consider the story as only giving occasion to the sentiment”.  Samuel Johnson

He said…

“I thought [if Pamela were] written in an easy and natural manner… [it] might possibly introduce a new species of writing, that might possibly turn young people into a course of reading different from the pomp and parade of romance-writing”

Want to find out more?

There are good basic introductions to Richardson and his novels here:

The site below is also really interesting. Richardson didn’t just publish the first English novel, but the first illustrated novel too. He took advantage of Pamela’s runaway success by issuing a lavish ’collector’s edition’ two years later (though there were pirate illustrated versions before that). Richardson went to great expense to commission his own illustrations from two of the leading book engravers of the time. It’s fascinating to see him using these images as a way of ensuring that readers only saw ‘his’ version of Pamela the demure and virtuous heroine, and not – like many of his contemporaries, including Henry Fielding – “a pert little minx, whom any man of common sense or address might have had on his own terms in a week”!

Lynn Shepherd studied English at Oxford, and later went on to do a doctorate on Samuel Richardson, which has now been published by Oxford University Press. She’s also a passionate Jane Austen fan, and has just published Murder at Mansfield Park. You can visit her website and follow her on Twitter as GhostingAusten.

By the Seaside with Sanditon: Event Wrap-up

All that had the appearance of incongruity in the reports of the two might very fairly be placed to the account of the vanity, the ignorance or the blunders of the many engaged in the cause by the vigilance and caution of Miss Diana Parker. The Narrator, Ch 10 

There was so much incongruity in Sanditon that I thought that this quote was a great way to wrap up the ‘By the Seaside with Sanditon’ event. I loved how Austen played off the dichotomy of old vs. modern English lifestyle, tradition vs. progress, health vs. illness, romantic vs. anti-romantic and many other themes – all with a bit more vehemence and sarcasm than I have read before. What I will remember most about reading Sanditon again after many years is that my impression of it today is much different than on first reflection. Like the heroine Charlotte Heywood’s reaction to the people in Sanditon, my observations of Austen’s plot, characters and theme have changed upon further acquaintance. Moreover, Sidney Parker will remain Austen’s most mysterious hero, forever a possibility of love etched in my mind. The perfect gentleman of fiction that we all dream about, but could not possibly find in real life. (well maybe) 

Sidney Parker was about seven or eight and twenty, very good-looking, with a decided air of ease and fashion and a lively countenance. The Narrator, Ch 11 

This is my fourth novel event here at Austenprose, and this time out I had some help from great guest bloggers who added their expertise and humor to entertain us. A big thank you to Julie, of Austenonly for her incredible knowledge of Regency and Georgian era history. Her posts on seaside resorts was so thorough I felt like a dip in the sea myself and her report on the medicinal benefits of sea bathing made me want to stay on the shore and out of the cold water. We also got a look at samphire and a good argument in favor of  Worthing as Jane Austen’s inspiration for her town of Sanditon. Mandy N. did a fabulous job with her lovely ‘Regency Runway’ show of seaside fashions. I want blue shoes and a parasol to match please. And of course, my thanks to all who read along and commented on the group read and other posts. It was a swell party! 

There are still seven giveaway contests running through Friday, March 26, 2010. Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter your chance for your name to be drawn. Winners will be announced on Saturday, March 27, 2010. Good luck to all. 

Many thanks again to all. I love doing these events because I can share Austen in a condensed period and hopefully convert a few more readers to my favorite author. I had fun, hope you did too. Next event will be the imposing Pride and Prejudice in June. Oh, shall the Shades of Pemberley be thus polluted? 

Laurel Ann

Share