Mansfield Park (Dover Thrift Editions)

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9780486415857: Mansfield Park (Dover Thrift Editions)
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When Fanny Price comes to live with her well-to-do cousins at Mansfield Park, the modest, retiring ten-year-old is treated condescendingly by members of the Bartram family. A poor relation, dependent on the goodwill of her aristocratic relatives, the sweet, sensitive, and frequently ignored Fanny nevertheless eventually develops into the ethical center of the family.
Trouble begins with the arrival of Mary Crawford and her brother Henry. Their sophisticated London tastes, and penchant for flirtatious activities, shatter the tranquility of the Bartram home, creating social havoc and precipitating a crisis in the family. But Fanny — always clever, graceful, and pleasant — provides a bulwark of moral strength, eventually winning her family's complete acceptance (and the love of her cousin Edmund).
Described by Lionel Trilling as the most experimental and modern of Jane Austen's works, Mansfield Park is also Austen's most serious novel, written in the full flower of the novelist's maturity. Enlivened by an amusing cast of busybodies, ne'er-do-wells, and social climbers, this acclaimed novel of early-19th-century English society will also appeal to readers as an entertaining study of the interplay between manners, education, and ethics.

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Review:

Though Jane Austen was writing at a time when Gothic potboilers such as Ann Ward Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho and Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto were all the rage, she never got carried away by romance in her own novels. In Austen's ordered world, the passions that ruled Gothic fiction would be horridly out of place; marriage was, first and foremost, a contract, the bedrock of polite society. Certain rules applied to who was eligible and who was not, how one courted and married and what one expected afterwards. To flout these rules was to tear at the basic fabric of society, and the consequences could be terrible. Each of the six novels she completed in her lifetime are, in effect, comic cautionary tales that end happily for those characters who play by the rules and badly for those who don't. In Mansfield Park, for example, Austen gives us Fanny Price, a poor young woman who has grown up in her wealthy relatives' household without ever being accepted as an equal. The only one who has truly been kind to Fanny is Edmund Bertram, the younger of the family's two sons.

Into this Cinderella existence comes Henry Crawford and his sister, Mary, who are visiting relatives in the neighborhood. Soon Mansfield Park is given over to all kinds of gaiety, including a daring interlude spent dabbling in theatricals. Young Edmund is smitten with Mary, and Henry Crawford woos Fanny. Yet these two charming, gifted, and attractive siblings gradually reveal themselves to be lacking in one essential Austenian quality: principle. Without good principles to temper passion, the results can be disastrous, and indeed, Mansfield Park is rife with adultery, betrayal, social ruin, and ruptured friendships. But this is a comedy, after all, so there is also a requisite happy ending and plenty of Austen's patented gentle satire along the way. Describing the switch in Edmund's affections from Mary to Fanny, she writes: "I purposely abstain from dates on this occasion, that everyone may be at liberty to fix their own, aware that the cure of unconquerable passions, and the transfer of unchanging attachments, must vary much as to time in different people." What does not vary is the pleasure with which new generations come to Jane Austen. --Alix Wilber

Book Description:

In recent years, Mansfield Park has come to be regarded as Austen's most controversial novel. It was published in two editions in her lifetime and here the differences between the first edition and the second, including some important amendments made by Jane Austen herself, are clearly noted on the page. The volume provides comprehensive notes, an extensive critical introduction covering the context and publication history of the work, a chronology of Austen's life, and an authoritative textual appa ratus. This edition is indispensable for all serious scholars and readers of Austen.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780141439808: Mansfield Park (Penguin Classics)

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Publisher: Penguin Classics, 2003
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9781626869738: Mansfield Park (Word Cloud Classics)

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