Book Corner 2020.6

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Mansfield Park: an Annotated Edition

by Jane Austen, annotated by Harvard University Press

Even with the annotations, I was soon reminded why this is my least favorite Austen. Fanny is a pretty insipid character to spend this amount of time with. Book I is so great, though – the young people getting carried away with their theatricals, the Bertram sisters withering in their jealous vying for Crawford’s attentions, Rushworth just so wonderfully stupid and clueless, and all of it culminating with Sir Bertram’s unexpected return literally in the middle of all the ranting and strutting upon the stage. Ha! If only the rest of the book were as fun. After that climax, it would have been better if it had ended much more quickly. And all I can say about the Mary-Edmund romance is she must have had one damn fine pair of ****- the way she disparaged his chosen profession, her crassness, her obvious lack of any of the fine virtues he purports to hold so highly – it was very hard on the page to accept him being so smitten with her.

The annotations in these Harvard editions are great – not overly intrusive, as in other annotated classics I’ve read where they feel the need to define every other word. They occasionally veered off well into “who cares” territory, so I skipped some of them. I like when annotations shed direct light on the culture and customs that lie behind the brief or antiquated words of the author. ( )

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