Emma is a comic novel by Jane Austen, first published in December 1815, about the perils of misconstrued romance. The main character, Emma Woodhouse, is described in the opening paragraph as "handsome, clever, and rich" but is also rather spoiled. Prior to starting the novel, Austen wrote, "I am going to take a heroine whom no-one but myself will much like." Emma Woodhouse has just attended the wedding of Miss Taylor, her friend and former governess, to Mr. Weston. Having introduced them, Emma takes credit for their marriage, and decides that she likes matchmaking. After she returns home to Hartfield with her father, Emma forges ahead with her new interest against the advice of her brother-in-law, Mr. Knightley, and tries to match her new friend Harriet Smith to Mr. Elton, the local vicar. First, Emma must persuade Harriet to refuse the marriage proposal from Robert Martin, a respectable, educated, and well-spoken young farmer, which Harriet does against her own wishes. However, Mr. Elton, a social climber, thinks Emma is in love with him and proposes to her. When Emma tells him that she had thought him attached to Harriet, he is outraged. After Emma rejects him, Mr. Elton leaves for a stay at Bath and returns with a pretentious, nouveau-riche wife, as Mr. Knightley expected. Harriet is heartbroken and Emma feels ashamed about misleading her. (Wikipedia)
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Perhaps the out-and-out funniest of Jane Austen's books. Telling the story of a heroine Austen feared readers would actively dislike, Emma has turned out to be a character whose creation was necessary to the development of the spoiled rich kid genre of literature, TV and movies. Since Emma knows what's best for everybody, she sets about trying to straighten the world out. It doesn't work. Fortunately, before completely screwing up everyone else's life, she gets her head screwed on straight and for the first time sees what it's all about.Book Description:
Emma is Austen's most technically accomplished novel, with a hidden plot, the full implications of which are only revealed by a second reading. The text presented here retains the spelling and punctuation of the first edition of 1816, allowing readers to see the novel as Austen's contemporaries first encountered it. The volume provides comprehensive explanatory notes, an extensive critical introduction, a chronology of Austen's life, and an authoritative textual apparatus. This edition is an indispensable resource for all scholars and readers of Austen.
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