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Emma, first published in 1816, was written when Jane Austen was at the height of her powers. In a novel remarkable for its sparkling wit and modernity, Austen presents readers with two of literature's greatest comic creations--the eccentric Mr. Woodhouse and that quintessential bore, Miss Bates. Here, too, we have what may well be Jane Austen's most profound characterization: the witty, imaginative, self-deluded Emma, a heroine the author declared "no one but myself will much like," but who has been much loved by generations of readers. Delightfully funny, full of rich irony, Emma is regarded as one of Jane Austen's finest achievements.
Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics. Austen lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry. She was educated primarily by her father and older brothers as well as through her own reading. The steadfast support of her family was critical to her development as a professional writer. Her artistic apprenticeship lasted from her teenage years until she was about 35 years old. During this period, she experimented with various literary forms, including the epistolary novel which she tried then abandoned, and wrote and extensively revised three major novels and began a fourth. From 1811 until 1816, with the release of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began a third, which was eventually titled Sanditon, but died before completing it. Austen's works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century realism. Her plots, though fundamentally comic, highlight the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security. Her work brought her little personal fame and only a few positive reviews during her lifetime, but the publication in 1869 of her nephew's A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced her to a wider public, and by the 1940s she had become widely accepted in academia as a great English writer. The second half of the 20th century saw a proliferation of Austen scholarship and the emergence of a Janeite fan culture.
This is a book about math, mirrors and crystal balls, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Village life? Sorta. The lives of the idle rich? I mean, sure, but only partially and incidentally. Romance? Barely. A morality tale of the Education of Young Lady? The young lady stands for and does many more important things than that. These things provide the base of the novel, the initial bolt of fabric, the first few lines of a drawing that set the limits of the author to writing about these thousand things rather than the other million things that lie outside those lines. They are the melody to which the symphony will return again and again, but with variations so you’ll never quite hear it again with perfect simplicity. You just have to recognize them to be able to understand the rest of the piece. And that is all. The melody is never the point- the point is everything that comes in between each time it repeats, which then dictates why the repetition is different the next time it all plays out.
You can’t just tune out everything that comes in between. Because then you’ll miss the story about math, mirrors and crystal balls. I missed it the first time around, and I’m sort of upset that I did, because this part of the story is way more engaging. Let’s talk math first. First time I ever wanted to do that without moaning with boredom, so already, points, JA! Austen’s work sets up fascinating equations that keep building and building on top of each other until you get one of those fantastically scary creations that cover the entire wall of a room where the genius who wrote it all out is leaping up and down, exhausted, all, “Eureka! I’ve done it!” only in this case, the genius can actually explain it to you in a way that makes her efforts seem worth it. Once you understand the first couple operations of the equation, then it’s easy to see where the next ones come from.
But to bring it down out of the world of the abstract what I mean is that I think Austen is absolutely brilliant at decoding every little minute detail of the duties, privileges, guilts, obligations, and routines that go into human relationships. Just like how in math if you add instead of multiply in one part of an equation it screws the whole thing, Austen shows us why one simple infraction of this delicate balance in relationships is such a major drama and can screw the whole thing for you. Yes, it’s one simple action, and no matter how justified it is that you forgot one thing amongst the fifty things you’re supposed to do, your answer is wrong and all the other correct work you did is completely invalidated. Red mark. Final. You’re wrong, and you know it and everyone knows it and to put this in Sorkinese you just have to stand there in your wrongness and be wrong. She reveals the little town of Highbury- or even really just the upper echelons of its ruling class- to be a labyrinth of constant choices where there are fifteen steps that one has to go through to narrow down your options. This is where its sort of about village life in that you can’t just do a straight cost-benefit analysis in any direct way because you will have to deal with the consequences of that action every day and it will materially affect your life in way that you can’t avoid like you could with a more anonymous society, or one in which people moved around more. Of course there isn’t as much action as other novels. It takes so much time to get through the lead up and the aftermath of every decision, and every time you skimp on any of it, it comes back to bite you in the ass.
When Emma tries to go out to dinner, depending on the situation she’s got a different set of a million questions to answer and/or tasks to complete. When it’s the one where she goes over to a couple’s house who are “in trade” and therefore her social inferiors, she’s got to come up with formulas that a) make it okay for her to want to be invited in the first place, b) make it okay for her to want to refuse it, then simultaneously c) make it okay for her to want to accept it, then d) figure out a way to see to her invalid father’s comfort (she has to ask him to go, go through a whole thing where she tries to persuade him even though she knows he won’t and shouldn’t come, then she arranges a dinner party for him while she’s out, then she has to arrange that those coming will be comfortable because her father has a tendency to starve people at dinner because he thinks he’s helping them be healthy) then e) make sure that she’ll be received in a style that befits her (she is invited to dinner while “the lesser females”- the term Austen uses- are only invited later in the evening), then f) finally practically arrange for herself to get there and get home which you would think would really be the only thing to worry about the first place. Even when she’s going out to dinner with her best friends down the street, she’s still got to worry about her father’s comfort, the harmony of her difficult family relationships, and who is conveying who by what carriage and why. She has a confrontational thing with Mr. Knightley outside when he comes on his horse rather than in his carriage, which is made worse in that it follows up the reveal that he only used his carriage to go to the other party to convey the “lesser females”, which is actually a big plot point that the whole thing turns on. Mrs. Weston thinks that for Knightley to be so thoughtful he must be in love with Jane, but no, Mr. Knightley just understands math better than anyone and comes up with the right answer more times than anyone as well.
I think it’s interesting that its brought up several times that Emma is always “meaning to read more” or improve herself to live up to the model of Jane that is always before her (the character who is perhaps only second to Mr. Knightley in coming up with the right answer, and even then she’s more impressive about it since she’s doing it with the handicap of having made a conventionally bad decision before the opening of the action), but doesn’t. I entirely understand it because I think she does meticulous enough work every day to make her household and relationships function in the way that they do. I mean, think about it. How many of these people are really suited to be living in such close quarters, where they are forced into repeated contact? Almost none of them. I think this really helps to explain one of the reasons why she befriends Harriet- she’s outside the equation, an X factor that Emma can throw in that might open up new possibilities, which might allow for different and more exciting things than seem currently possible with the options open to her.
Her whole arc with Frank Churchill is sort of the same thing in that it represents another kind of escape from how hemmed in she is. He represents really the only person to whom she can really interact as an equal- someone to whom she doesn’t really have any obligations other than to enjoy herself and speak in a way that is not controlled by what she should be saying or should be doing. He’s not a total X factor in that he’s been mapped into the social hierarchy of the village even in his absence, but the way he’s been mapped means he’s been marked out for Emma. The way in which he’s thought of sort of gives her permission to think of him as belonging to her in a way that allows her to think and act selfishly in a manner that she mostly recognizes as wrong (hence why she almost immediately realizes that she’s not in love with him and would never marry him) but which is also a sweet relief.
But that’s why the two golden children can’t be together. If they were, the math of obligations and ties and duties and privileges would be upset in a way that would rend asunder the balance of life in a way that could never be repaired. When Emma and Frank Churchill end up together, you end up with the 2008 banking crisis and Occupy Wall Street. Their choice to be together might have represented a choice that would have set them “free” in many ways, but free to be lesser than they could be or should be. It’s interesting to me that Austen had Knightley and Jane (her models of what it means to make correct choices, remember) step back to let Frank and Emma make that choice, and then we see how violently both characters freak out about having the higher, better models of humanity removed from them. Those two characters don’t want each other, because honestly at the base of it all, math motivates us- math gives us reasons to get up and move and do it again. Frank and Emma know they can’t do anything for each other- they could only live in self satisfied ease, beauty and comfort, and that’s not enough.
Mirrors and crystal balls are the complement of this math. They’re always haunting the background of all the choices that are made in the novel. Austen is pretty methodical and amazing in how she’s able to make the whole novel a Hall of Mirrors that justifies the title of Emma even better than the fact that she is the main character. Most of the people in the town represent what Emma is and what she is not, and even more importantly, who she could be and who she is afraid she’ll be. Austen brings this out most consciously in the comparison to Miss Bates- who is not coincidentally Emma’s mortal enemy and bête noire. Emma has a conversation with Harriet where the scary specter of her turning into Miss Bates is discussed, and she outlines everything she feels makes her different from Miss Bates. For someone who turns up her nose at people in trade and prosperous farmers, she must have surprised herself by making her main point that she is rich and Miss Bates is poor and then having all other differences proceed from that. I don’t think its coincidental that Miss Bates is perhaps the most memorable character from the whole novel-she’s allowed to ramble on in conversations to the point where it almost seems like we’re experiencing Emma’s nightmare, not an actual person. Nor is it surprising that its Miss Bates she finally acts out on when she loses her shit- of all the equations and all the math she’s done in sorting out her life, Miss Bates is the one constant, loud, obnoxious reminder of the fact that not only is it possible that she’s added instead of multiplied, its possible that just like Miss Bates, math rather than affection will be all she has to rely on.
Her second nightmare mirror is Jane Fairfax, and I think it’s definitely not an accident that Jane is essentially the creation of Miss Bates for most of the novel, who seems to (at least from Emma’s perspective) be actively trying to create the creature most designed to make Emma feel insecure, a person who exists to annoy her and slap her down at every turn, and all in such a sweet guise that there’s no way for Emma to slay the dragon- she just has to let it come at her again and again for her entire life. Emma spends most of the book reacting against, too, and around the mirror of Jane- and by whom she thinks that other people judge her, although this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Much like with Frank, Jane is the natural person to be classed with Emma, by mathematical equation (age, sex, education, social class), but unlike Frank, Jane doesn’t have the potential to set Emma free. Instead Emma feels further hemmed in by her, almost until the point of suffocation, because it seems like people are telling her that she should be the incarnation of the math, which Emma hates. I think that’s what the whole “one cannot love a reserved person,” thing that repeats the whole novel was about. Yes, you should strive after the right answer as much as possible, and it always has to be there in your head, but you can’t let it rule you. You have to be brave enough to be a person sometimes, too, which is all Emma’s about and all she keeps saying the whole novel. Jane is the total opposite of that.
Mrs. Elton is another mirror, with an exaggerated version of Emma’s pride and classism (which Emma usually ends up setting aside, but its always there). Harriet is some fascinatingly complex thing in her psyche where she’s simultaneously this self-hating symbol of what she thinks other people think of her (in that Harriet is the opposite of that) and perhaps also some twisted martyr like version of what she thinks of herself. Mrs. Weston is an idol, which could make her the same sort of suffocating symbol as Jane, but she escapes from that by being in another class and age that cannot be compared to Emma, and through her unconditional love. Other characters also reflect to each other and therefore back onto Emma again as well. The two Knightley brothers, to each other and to the other men of the village, Mr. Weston to Mr. Woodhouse and Mr. Woodhouse to Mr. Knightley and back again, and so on in a round, but it all comes back to Emma.
The book actually reminded me of the feeling that I had towards the end of Madame Bovary, which was odd. That was also a book about living in tight spaces, which seemed to get smaller and smaller whenever you turned, and where the escapes offered to you seemed to have something lacking from them. I was gasping for air by the time that they got to Box Hill, which is I think exactly what Austen intends. But this Emma is not like that Emma. That Emma ignored the math more and more. She wasn’t breaking the rules so much as she was proposing an entirely different game. Austen’s Emma commits an infraction, but still recognizes the rules and the game and the players and has no desire to change them. Ultimately, I think the turning point is Emma realizing that she isn’t locked in the closet at all and she never was. I think there’s so much deception and hidden secrets because and misunderstandings because Emma needs to realize, again and again, that the labyrinth she’s built for herself is of her own making, and bears little to no relation to reality, and it’s damn good thing that it doesn’t. She has to get out of her own head and the crazy garden of fears, paranoias and dreams she’s created there and realize that it doesn’t matter whether she’s the fairest of them all or not. What matters is keeping intact the equation that’s lead to the right answer so often that she’s gotten careless about remembering that it still matters that she does it right, even when she’s moved on to calculus and imaginary equations.
I’ve always related to Emma Woodhouse more than any of Austen’s other heroines, and this reading did not change that feeling. I still think she changes and grows in incredible amounts, in ways that make sense to me and seem genuine. I still want to hang out with her, and I’d still love to be a fly on the wall in her therapy sessions (you know if that weren’t a terrible thing to do) because I feel like she would help me to express a lot of things I feel myself- which she does every time I read this novel. Every once in awhile I come back to the question of why Austen thought others wouldn’t like her. I’ve decided at this point its because I think that her other heroines represent a type or statement of some kind that Austen was reacting to or working through, whereas Emma I think isn’t evocative of anything so sympathetic or recognizable in the symbolic universe. She seems like the most messy, true to life, screwed up, actual person that Austen wrote about. That’s not to say that the other heroines aren’t realistic, they are, but just that they’re tied up with these other languages and ideas and conversations in a way that Emma isn’t. She’s just sort of… this girl who’s trying to be a person and that’s all. She’s maybe the most modern in that respect. I don’t think I am expressing this well. Whatever, she’s still my Austen bestie. That is the important point here.
Anyway, this is unbelievably long at this point so I’ll just offer an executive summary of my above points here: Whatevs, haters. JA, FTW! <} 4EVA!!
* * * Original Review:This is one of the Holy Trinity of Austen (yes, I just made that up). And in my opinion, deservedly so. Emma is far and away the heroine that I identify the most with of all the Austen women. Jane Austen thought that nobody would like her when she wrote Emma... except maybe she underestimated how many people have things in common with her. She has so many deep flaws that are so easy to completely hate, but she means so very well, and is really a deeply caring person. She just has absolutely no self awareness yet, and has not matured enough to change her opinions when faced with opposition. Here is where she learns how. It reminded me so much of myself at a certain age, and even on some level right now. She's a snob, she's rather a bitch at times, she's condescending, and not all that perceptive. But I just love her anyway. Perhaps because I used to or still have those characteristics and want to believe that even those people will learn and deserve love in the end, even from a Mr. Knightley. But also, I think, because Austen creates her so sympathetically, that it's hard not to love her. This book explains motivations a lot more than in the others, and one gets a few sides of the story of errors towards the end of the book, as everything is set completely right again. I liked that, that she didn't let it go, but tied up all her threads to her readers' satisfaction. Or at least mine.
PS- The Gwen Paltrow/Jeremy Northam movie? My first Austen movie. Got me into the genre, really. I think it's fantastic, and very sweet, and Jeremy Northam is perfectly well cast. Also: you'll see Ewan McGregor with an awful haircut, looking completely unattractive. It's kind of funny.
Okay. Sorry about that. I just remembered the words "If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more," and any time that happens I'm obliged to find the nearest abyss and scream into it for the next 3-5 business days.
Now that we've wrapped that up, let's get to it:
This is a perfect book.
Is this the first Jane Austen book I've rated five stars? No. Is this the first time I've wished there was a sixth star I could apply to a Jane Austen book? Also no. But is this the most INTENSELY I've ever wished that? Hard yes.
This has EVERYTHING a Jane Austen book could possibly have. And also more. (Ignoring the fact that it is possible, since this book has it. Stop undermining my enthusiastic if illogical points, hypothetical person reading this. Meanie.)
It has: - the beautiful writing, social commentary, and biting wit of all her books - the actual hilarity of Persuasion - the - and I hate to use this phrase, a phrase which makes me want to die of cringing, but it's necessary - swoon-worthy (gag) hero of Northanger Abbey (yes, Mr. Tilney is my favorite Austen hero, what about it) - the I-am-going-to-scoop-my-heart-out-with-a-spoon level romance of Pride & Prejudice - the perfectcomplicatedlovely family dynamics of Sense & Sensibility - and the nothing of Mansfield Park, because that book is not good and we should all live to forget it.
On top of that, we have a heroine that makes all of our pal Janie's other protagonists look like cardboard cutouts of Girl Scouts. Just flat, nice girls. No depth to them. (This is a great simile, don't you think? I'm proud, personally.)
Emma is complicated, bratty, spoiled, a little dumb sometimes. She should be hard to like...and yet...
I loved her from page 1. Give me every stubborn but well-motivated funny girl with a sharp tongue. I'll take all of them, thank you.
And it's not name bias. Years of being in elementary school classes that forced me to be called by last name due to sheer number of Emmas has ensured that I will NEVER be predisposed to someone I have a first name in common with.
Bottom line: I want to reread this already. And I'm actually writing reviews lately, so it hasn't even been that long.
two things: 1) emma is a nightmare. 2) i'm not sure if i want to be her or marry her.
review to come / 5 STARS!!!!!!!!!!
---------------- currently-reading updates
okay, NOW it's time.
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me: i love jane austen anyone: me too!! don't you love Emma?? me: uh... (long pause) i haven't read it anyone: ...but - me: yes, i know anyone: your name - me: yes, it's emma anyone: ... me: i'm saving it to be the last austen i read anyone: ... me: to me this is a normal, logical thought anyone: ... me: imagine living in my head anyone: *collapses*
“I may have lost my heart, but not my self-control.”
Personally, I may have lost my self-control, but not my heart. A few years ago I read my first Jane Austen, which was Pride and Prejudice, and I really enjoyed it. I thought Emma couldn't be that bad, it's a very popular classic and its rating is good. To be honest, it's not bad, exactly, but the fact that it took me an entire month to get through it says a lot. I had lots and lots of problems with this novel.
Such a vain and arrogant main character. I mean, I know she is supposed to be an unlikeable character for literary reasons. But that doesn't make it any easier.
2. Miss Bates
Why bother wasting so much ink and paper on nonsense. Numerous pages of nonsense.
3. They way people are
Wait. Let me guess. That character is - wait for it - pleasant? The nicest person in the world? Of such sweet disposition? So generous, exceptional, kind, satisfactory and pleasant. Please save me.
4. The way people talk
Hours could go by and Emma and her father would talk about nothing but the pig they owned and had slaughtered, and what they'd make of it for dinner, and how nice it was that they gave some of it to the Bates, and if it was the right part of the pig they gave away, or if they should have given something else, but no it is all fine and pleasant, and that was very generous of them, and they will surely be very gracious, since they gave away such fine piece of pork, and won't dinner be nice and kick me on the shin pleasant.
5. The plot
Scratch 300 pages of nonsense and nervewracking pleasantness and this could have been a book I enjoyed.
"A mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing," “Prejudiced! I am not prejudiced.”
There aren't that many things out there, giving one a most fulfilling feeling like reading one of Jane Austen novels. While inheriting author's most beautiful style of writing, each of her works appears to have its own 'uniqueness', offering the reader a wonderful reading experience each time. Emma is no exception to this rule, easily making it to my all-time-favorite-fiction. I'll admit I was a bit apprehensive based on some of the reviews, but for me, everything was amazing. Those very very long sentences are quite amazing one's gotten used to!
“What is passable in youth is detestable in later age” "The older a person grows, Harriet, the more important it is that their manners should not be bad;"
Emma is my fifth Austen novel (with P&P, S&S, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey being first four) and what struck me from start was how contrasting Emma Woodhouse was to author's typical heroines. Characters like Elinor Dashwood, Anne Elliot, Elizabeth Bennett all shared a certain amount of sensibility and virtue, making them morally superior to most secondary characters. But in Emma, the protagonist does not share the same set of characteristics. Rather, Jane Fairfax is the character here who appeared to have share some those traits - at least to a degree. On the other hand, from the set of male characters, Mr. Knightley inherits all those qualities/ morals, even surpassing the main male characters of other Austen books.
"You might not see one in a hundred with gentleman so plainly written as in Mr. Knightley." “Oh! you would rather talk of her person than her mind, would you? Very well; I shall not attempt to deny Emma’s being pretty.”
Main plot of the story is revolving around Emma's perception of the events around her, and the way she is interpreting everything without adhering to council of others. This continues on for the majority of story, while highlighting her lack of rationality and it's effects on others. Despite the narrative helping the reader empathize with at times, it was difficult to justify most her actions. I think it's natural for the reader to develop a little dislike toward her during first two volumes. However, there was no lack of humor, and no single part felt boring.
“This man is almost too gallant to be in love,” "My dear sir, if there is one thing my mother loves better than another, it is pork"
Even with the book being considerably longer than most Austen's other books, the flow of the book was amazing: it was immersive, entertaining and had sufficient amount of plot-twists (though somewhat apparent at times). And I loved the large number of vivid, and entertaining secondary characters. It was a lot of fun reading and understanding each one's disposition, which were well explained by the author. Especially, Mr. Woodhouse, a unique and amusing character who became one of my favorites along with other supporting characters such as Miss Bates, Harriet Smith complimented the plot beautifully.
"No, Emma, your amiable young man can be amiable only in French, not in English. He may be very ‘amiable,’ have very good manners, and be very agreeable; but he can have no English delicacy towards the feelings of other people: nothing really amiable about him.”
As I said before, the somewhat 'shallow' traits of Emma sets this book apart from other books of the Author. But, the concluding chapters did wrap everything neatly, doing justice to all the characters. And Finally, for me, Emma has become by third favorite Austen novel, only falling behind P&P and Persuasion, but not that behind. Will definitely read again.
"One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.” "You must be the best judge of your own happiness." “There is one thing, Emma, which a man can always do, if he chuses, and that is, his duty; not by manoeuvring and finessing, but by vigour and resolution."
I really wanted to like this, but I didn't. Jane Austen and I do not get along.
Emma apparently has nothing better to do than try to pair her friend Harriet up with essentially any male that is more wealthy than Robert Martin.
This book was so boring. I didn't care about the characters at all. Most of the book was utter non-sense, particularly women talking about unimportant things like apples or using too many apples, Maple Grove. There was talk about how wonderful it is that someone wrote a letter and letter writing habits.
The ending was entirely predictable. The only reason that I didn't give one star is that I thought that this book did raise an interesting point- Does society allow people to be single? Even in 2000's, there is so much pressure to couple off. For those who are single, they are constantly being "set up" with a potential life partner by other people. Can't people choose singleness?
Overall, easy pass for me. Would definitely not be reading this again unless I am having great difficulty sleeping.
2023 Reading Schedule Jan Alice in Wonderland Feb Notes from a Small Island Mar Cloud Atlas Apr On the Road May The Color Purple Jun Bleak House Jul Bridget Jones’s Diary Aug Anna Karenina Sep The Secret History Oct Brave New World Nov A Confederacy of Dunces Dec The Count of Monte Cristo
She’s just so fucking brilliant. That much so I found the need to swear. The sarcasm is just oozing out of her words. She doesn’t need to tell you her opinions of society: she shows them to you.
Simply put, Emma’s farther is a ridiculous prat. There’s no other word for it. He spends his day lounging around eating rich and expensive food and doesn’t bother to exercise his body or mental faculties. The thought of visiting his recently departed governess, a long-time family friend, is utterly deplorable. I mean, he can’t travel that far. She lives the great distance of half a mile away; thus, the only possibility is to hire a carriage. This is clearly the only feasible solution to the problem. He is self-indulgent and spoilt, and in this Austen ushers in the origins of her heroine.
Thankfully, Emma has a degree of sense. She is still a little spoilt; she still has a great deal to learn but she isn’t her farther. In addition, the departure of her governess is an agreeable experience. She has empathy. Whilst she misses her friend and her teacher, she is genuinely happy for her. Unlike her farther, seeing her friend enter a love filled marriage is an occasion for joy and celebration even if she dearly misses her company. So from very early on, Austen’s heroine is characterised as spoilt, her upbringing demands it so, but she is not without sense or a full awakening: she clearly has the capabilities of leading a successful life rather than one that resembles the useless vegetable state of her farther. She is a strong woman.
She spends her days helping her new friend Harriet; she endeavours to find her the perfect husband, and sets about trying to improve her character. But through this, and her own naivety, Emma never considers her own youth, and that she, too, is in need of some degree of improvement. Thus sweeps in the straight shooter, the frank speaking, Mr Knightley. Emma has many reading lists (who doesn’t?) but she never bothers to complete them; she never finishes her own schedule: her own plans. She considers herself a true authority on marriage, on matchmaking, but her experience, her credentials, come from one fluke partnership. Her young age breeds arrogant ignorance. Because she has created one healthy marriage, she immediately thinks she knows what love is about: she thinks she will succeed again. And as a result she makes a series of terrible mistakes. Ones Mr Knightley is only too generous to point out.
And this is Emma’s learning curve. Such irony!
“Were I to fall in love, indeed, it would be a different thing; but I have never been in love ; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall.”
Through the course of the plot she truly discovers herself. Austen’s heroines are frequently deluded, and Emma is deluded by her own will. She has no idea what love is, and in her well-meant advice, she frequently mistakes simple things such as gratitude and simple kindness as romantic interest. Austen being the wonderfully comic writer that she is, exploits this silly little misconception for the entire plot. Emma does finally get over herself. By the end she understands the feelings that are ready to burst forth from her own chest. Emma’s excess is her indulgence in her own opinion; she naively believes herself experienced when in reality she is juvenile, arrogant, self-absorbed, but full of real potential as a human being: she can do some good in this world and live for others. What she needed to do, and what Mr Knightly so desperately wanted to see, was for her to grow up. And she does: happiness reigns supreme.
“Men of sense, whatever you may choose to say, do not want silly wives.”
I gave this five stars, but is it as enjoyable as other Austen’s?
Simply put, it’s not. This lacked a plot driver. This wasn’t heading towards a clear and well defined fulfilment or resolution. I would certainly, and whole-heartedly, only recommend reading this one if you already enjoy Austen’s style. Whilst this does display Austen’s rapier wit in full force, the lack of narrative progress will scare most readers away. This has a great deal going for it, though it is terribly slow at points. If you’re not already an Austen lover, you should go read something else. For me though, I’m going to finally being reading Pride and Prejudice soon. It will be very interesting to compare it to Persuasion and see which is the best.
She's spoiled by her circumstances and self-absorbed in a way that only someone who hasn't really known any sort of hardships can be. And I get why she isn't the heroine that anyone is really rooting for in a serious way. Because if the book had ended with Emma alone with her father, it wouldn't have really broken my heart.
But here's the thing I found as I listened to this one: It wasn't really Emma that I hated, it was the whole stick-to-your-social-level thinking that was so...accepted. I guess I forgot that society's structure was such an ingrained part of everyone's lives during this time period that the fact that Emma dared to think her friend worthy of a certain man, made her into a villainess. I think we tend to focus on Robert Martin, who for all intents and purposes was a nice dude, and Emma discouraging Harriet to accept him because she thought he was socially above him. But in reality, it wasn't just that Emma who needed to be chastised for sticking her nose into Harriet's love life. Although, yes, she should have been! <--because stop being a nosey bitch, Emma! It was the whole if you marry a farmer, we can't be seen together anymore thing. How was this a thing?! How was this ever a thing?!
Ok, ok. Take away my disappointment in the casual way humans treated other humans who hadn't been born into the right family and weren't gentlemanly enough. Or the way Emma was SO GRATEFUL that Knightly had taken the time to correct her when she didn't behave properly.
And take away the part where Knightly blushingly confessed that he had probably been in love with her since she was 13. <--with their 16 year age gap, that puts him at 29. OHMYFUCKINGGOD! I get it. Times...they were a bit different. I still made The Face when I heard that one, though.
Anyway. Take all of that away, and I honestly liked this story. Emma wasn't a bad person, she was just somewhat Clueless as to what the real world was like, and oblivious to not only what other people needed but to what she needed, as well.
Speaking of what she needed - she needed someone to grab her father by the shoulders, give him a good shake, and tell him to stop acting like such a pussy. Mr. Woodhouse was so fucking annoying. I mean, he's portrayed as a lovable, harmless old man, but...not really! She almost didn't marry because of him. And everyone just bowed and scraped and let him get away with his nonsense. Except Knightly's brother. <--loved that guy! Probably the only normal person in the entire fucking book.
It was good luck that they had a chicken thief in the area that scared her father into wanting a man around the house. Ha! I really did think that was a cute way to end the story. And Knightly really was a super nice guy who deserved a happy ending of his own.
My point is, that while it has its problems, I wasn't bored to tears with this classic story. And I like that Austen wrote about people and the things that made them tick, and not the weather or the scenery. The issues I had with the book are the same things that make the book a classic. In other words, it's old. And they did shit differently when this was written. Not really sure what you can do about that other than be super fucking happy you weren't born back then.
Nadia May was a wonderful narrator and really made listening to the audiobook a very pleasant experience. And, as always, I suggest audiobooks for those of you who aren't fans of trying to read some of these older books. Getting someone to spoon feed you this old stuff can make all the difference in the world.
Emma, by Jane Austen, is a novel about youthful hubris and the perils of misconstrued romance.
The story takes place in the fictional village of High-bury and the surrounding estates of Hart-field, Randalls, and Donwell Abbey and involves the relationships among individuals in those locations consisting of "3 or 4 families in a country village".
The novel was first published in December 1815 while the author was alive, with its title page listing a publication date of 1816.
As in her other novels, Austen explores the concerns and difficulties of genteel women living in Georgian–Regency England; she also creates a lively comedy of manners among her characters and depicts issues of marriage, gender, age, and social status.
عنوان: «اما»؛ نویسنده: جین اوستین؛ انتشاراتیها: (اردیبهشت، نی، نیک فرجام، پارمیس، آویدا، نظری، آهنگ فردا، آتیسا، آریاسان) ادبیات؛ تاریخ خوانش: دهم ماه آوریل سال 2010میلادی
مترجمها خانمها و آقایان: «روشن آقاخانی، نشر اردیبهشت، 1362، در 208ص»؛ «رضا رضایی، نشر نی، چاپ سوم 1388؛ در 560ص چاپ نهم 1392»؛ «آرزو خلجی مقیم، نیک فرجام، 1395، در 469ص»؛ «الهه مرادپور، پارمیس، چاپ اول 1392؛ چاپ دوم 1395، در 568ص»؛ «شقایق حسین زاده؛ ساری، آویدا، 1391، در 60ص»؛ «شعله بنی آدم، نشر نظری، 1390، در 104ص»؛ «میروحید ذنوبی؛ آهنگ فردا، 1396، در 459ص»؛ «آرمانوش باباخانیانس، تهران، آتیسا، 1396، در 496ص»؛ «امیر رمزی، آریاسان، 1396، در 459ص»؛
اما وودهاس، دختری خوشقلب، ولی خیالباف است، که خیال میکند، همه ی آدمها را میشناسد، و میتواند سرنوشت آنها را رقم بزند؛ به تدریج پرده ی پندار ��نار میرود، و «اما» در جریان رخدادها، از خودفریبی، به خودشناسی میرسد؛ «جین آستین» در این رمان اوج هنر طنز خویش را با واژه های خویش به نمایش خوانشگرانش بگذاشته اند؛
نقل از متن: (اما چه موقعی که سئوال میکرد و چه موقعی که گوش میداد، میلرزید ولی هیجان خود را بهتر از «هریت» مهار میکرد؛ صدایش نمیلرزید، ولی ذهنش از اینجور شکل گرفتن احساسات، از این خطری که ناگهان علم شده بود، از این سر در گمی ناگهانی، و حیرت و سراسیمگی، به تلاطم افتاده بود...؛ به حرفهای «هریت» که گوش میکرد، در باطن رنج میکشید، ولی حفظ ظاهر میکرد...؛ اما اگر قسمتهای نامفهوم و تکراری حرفهای «هریت» را، کنار میگذاشت، به اصل مطلب میرسید، و غم وجودش را فرا میگرفت؛ به خصوص که یادش میافتاد، خودش در تقویت حسن نظر آقای «نایتلی» به «هریت»، نقش کوچکی نداشته است.)؛ پایان
تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 28/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 23/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
before she began writing this novel, JA said, ‘i am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.’ and sis, if that aint the truth.
its not like i hated emma - there are far worse characters out there - its just that she annoyed me to no end. no one likes a inconsiderate/conceited busy-body and, to me, i never got the sense that emma was truly sorry for her actions in the end, which makes all of her meddling unredeemable.
but i appreciate mr. knightleys character as hes the ONLY person who calls emma out on her poor behaviour. hes the highlight of this entire novel for me - hes kind, considerate, and notices others. hes way too good for emma, in my opinion.
sadly, my lack of love for the title character prevented me from loving this, but i can understand the storys popularity throughout time and the appeal of JAs writing.
"Oh, my dear, you musn't think of falling for him. He's too crude and crass." "Oh, my dear Emma, you are perfectly correct. I shan't give him another thought." "Oh, my dear, that's good because I would have to knock you flat on your arse if you were considering someone of such low birth."
Yawn. I tried, but life's too short. Plus, I like 'em crude and crass.
I hope you don’t mind that I write to you, expressing my gratitude for your brilliant handling of words. And as the post office is an object of interest and admiration in your novel “Emma”, I thought a letter would be the adequate way of communicating my thoughts.
I must start by confessing that I don’t like your heroine at all. Obviously, this sounds like a harsh judgment on a classic character like Emma Woodhouse, and I wouldn’t have dared to be as honest with you as I am, had I not been convinced that you dislike her even more than I do. For I can at least accept some of her conceited ignorance as a direct effect of the prejudice of her era, whereas you had to deal with her as a contemporary. It hardly helped at all that you gave her an antagonist in Mrs Elton who exceeded Emma’s vanity and narcissism.
I struggle to find anything justifiable in the lifestyle displayed in “Emma”, and if I needed any proof that English class society was as parasitic as it was idiotic, your description of the idle life of the whole set of characters is perfectly enough to make me feel happy that I have not been born a “lady” with “prospects” in England in the early 19th century. If Jane Fairfax’ worst fate is to use her education to teach young children, and her best luck is to be married to a character like Frank Churchill, I personally see no big difference between her heaven and my hell.
As for Emma’s clueless and spoiled behaviour - she is the strongest case against the reasonableness of Mr Knightley.
My dear Jane Austen, as you can see, I didn’t care for any of your characters, which I found to be dull, arrogant, deceitful and just plain stupid. I didn’t care for the idea that bliss is marrying into a situation that gives you the right to bully others and look down on people whose family tree isn’t fashionable enough. I certainly didn’t care about Emma’s meddling in her friends’ lives, to the point of telling one of her friends that she would not be able to see her anymore if she married a certain man, considered “low”. I didn’t care for the “happy end” with all those marriages - magically matching the couples according to their social status.
Why, do you ask, dear Jane Austen, and rightly so, did you devour the novel then, if it has so little merit?
I did it because it had the same effect as a well-scripted soap opera: I wanted to know who ended up with whom despite my shudders, and I continued to follow Emma from misconception to misconception in paralysed fascination with the vulgarity of her mind. It had one extremely important advantage compared to a soap opera though, and that is where you may take credit, my dear Jane Austen! It had funny, sarcastic moments, and it was a delightful tribute to the beauty of the English language. That is more than any soap opera can achieve. So thank you for that!
As I am quite a fan of your other novels’ titles, combining two main ideas in alliterations, I have been thinking about how to create an ABC of “Emma” using the same literary device. First, I thought the title must unmistakably be “Art and Arrogance”, being an adequate description of Emma’s schemes. Then I thought about the awkwardness of the characters. As they are constantly mistaken about each other’s intentions and feelings, I settled for “Blush and Blunders”. In the end, though, my dislike of the general worldview on display in the novel made me go for the C option:
CLASS AND CLOWNERY!
In my mind, that is what “Emma” should be rightly called, and I hope you don’t mind my being so honest with you, my dear Jane Austen, for just like your lovely character Mrs Elton, I claim that “I am no flatterer, and I will make up my own mind about things”. As you know, that is highly unusual and very brave (but not very modest!), especially in a society which deals in classic literature, where your novels are part of the aristocracy.
I will be closing my letter by expressing my infinite gratitude.
Without “Emma”, I wouldn’t have realised how incredibly lucky I am to be able to call people from all walks of life my friends, how blessed I am to have a family in which equality is the major basis for attachment, in which my profession is a source of pride and happiness and steady income!
Without Emma, I might have forgotten how dull it is to be spoiled and privileged and superior!
The devoted reader, whose family tree will probably prevent you from reading the letter
I decided to just add books to an existing review. This new book of Emma is like the Pride and Prejudice. I’ll leave some pictures here and I have a big ole review below from back in the day when I wrote big ole reviews! 4.5 Stars ⭐️
****** Okay, when I first started the book and was reading how Emma was taking happiness away from Harriet Smith by telling her that Mr. Martin wasn't good enough for her - I didn't like Emma at all.
Now I can understand how Emma only wanted to do good by Harriet and that was how it was back in those days. But, as Mr. Knightely pointed out, Harriet was not from some wealthy family and Emma was doing the wrong thing in trying to find her a great husband. Mr. Knightley went to the trouble to help Mr. Martin in how to go about asking for Harriet's hand in marriage and Emma shut that down. But lets just say it all worked out in the end.
Emma went on a journey of trying to get people together. She wanted to bring people together and have them all married off. It seemed that it always back fired. Bless her heart for trying. She really was just trying to do good even though some of her thoughts and actions were not that kind.
Emma's father, Mr. Woodhouse was a peculiar character. I can't say too much because it seemed that what they called "his nerves" back then, sounds just like some forms of my panic disorder and agoraphobia. So I'm not going to go on about him not wanting to leave the house or him hating for anyone leaving him, he had issues, so just leave him alone.
It was such fun reading about the story line and all of the descriptions in the book. Some things reminded me of Pride & Prejudice in that way but of course I love that book better. But Emma was a little enchantment all on it's own.
Then Emma tries to set Harriet up with Mr. Elton and that backfired as well as he had a crush on Emma. Poor Emma once again made a mistake.
"Here have I," said she, "actually talked poor Harriet into being very much attached to this man. She might never have thought of him but for me; and certainly never would have thought of him with hope, if I had not assured her of his attachment, for she is as modest and humble as I used to think him. Oh! that I had been satisfied with persuading her not to accept young Martin. There I was quite right. That was well done of me; but there I should have stopped, and left the rest to time and chance. I was introducing her into good company, and giving her the opportunity of pleasing someone worth having; I ought not to have attempted more. But now, poor girl, her peace is cut up for some time. I have been but half a friend to her; and if she were not to feel this disappointment so very much, I am sure I have not an idea of anybody else who would be at all desirable for her--William Coxe--oh! no, I could not endure William Coxe--a pert young lawyer
I did not like Frank Churchill from the start. There was just something devious about him. Emma didn't like certain things he did but she was a friend to him anyway.
But getting to read about the love slowly unfolding between Mr. Knightly and Emma was so sweet. You could tell there was something there and they were both hiding it.
Until the bitter end when Mr. Knightly finally confesses his love and Emma to him. And they had their wedding. How sweet is that, Emma finally finding her own love instead of trying to find it for others.
I thought the book was really good and enjoyed it a great deal. ♥
Jane Austen famously wrote: "I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like."
My initial take: Truer words, Jane. Truer words. Emma is wealthy and beautiful, the queen bee of society in her town, and boss of her household (since her father is a hand-wringing worrywart, almost paralyzed by his fears). She’s prideful, self-satisfied and convinced she knows best, not just for herself but for pretty much everyone in her circle. When Emma decides she’s got a gift for matchmaking, trouble soon follows.
On reread, I realized that Emma is a better character than I previously gave her credit for (of course, Mrs Elton makes any other woman look like a saint). She’s intelligent and essentially kindhearted, she has almost endless patience with her exasperating father, and she’s not so proud that she isn’t able to learn from her mistakes .
Not a whole lot happens in Emma, plotwise. It takes place in a small town among a limited group of people; nobody is saving the world or doing anything earth-shaking. But Jane Austen has a gift for creating a vivid world of memorable people, and drawing believable characters both wise and foolish ... and the wealthy people can be just as silly and blind as the poverty-stricken ones. Emma learns and grows over the course of the novel, and ends up quite a bit wiser than when she started.
Jane Austen is very cognizant of the different classes of society, even in a village. There’s no real criticism of that from Austen here; in fact, a lot of trouble results when Emma tries to pull her friend Harriet from a lower sphere of society into her own, higher one. It would have been nice to see more challenges to the assumption that everyone should stay and marry in their own class. There’s amazingly insightful social commentary in Emma but ultimately not much movement ... except within the heart and mind of Emma herself. And maybe that’s enough, for this particular story from this particular day and age.
April 2017 reread/group read with Catching Up on the Classics.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
I can't do it! I can't finish it! I keep trying to get into Jane Austen's stuff and I just can't make it further than 150 pages or so. Everything seems so predictable and sooooo long-winded. I feel like she is the 19th century John Grisham. You know there's a good story line in there somewhere, and if you could edit out 60% of the words it would be fantastic. Sorry to all the Jane Austen fans-you inspired me to try one more time and I failed!
***Todo este mes lo estamos leyendo y comentando en el #clubpickwick. Yo me he adelantado a las fechas pero seguiré comentando y añadiendo contenido con mis compañeras por nuestro instagram durante todo mayo: Club Pickwick
Este fue el primer libro de Austen que leí, uno de los primeros clásicos que amé locamente y en esta relectura tenía un poquito de miedo de que no me gustara tanto ahora... jajajaj que estupidez. ESTE LIBRO ES UNA PUÑETERA MARAVILLA. Y realmente poco más tendría que decir. He disfrutado de la primera a la última página, me he reído y me ha tenido con la sonrisa sus 500 páginas, he adorado a todos y cada uno de los personajes (sí, incluso a los Elton, porque son TAN reconocibles aún hoy que me hacían muchísima gracia sus pequeñas maldades). Me parece uno de los libros más originales de Austen, está realizado casi como una obra de teatro en 3 actos en los que las tramas cambian y evolucionan, personajes entran y salen de escena cuando menos te lo esperas y la protagonista es la villana que en el fondo es buena . Porque Emma es maravillosa. Por su educación, época y circunstancias no deja de ser una clasista metomentodo pero también es una joven de 20 años que no ha salido de su casa en toda su vida y vive sola con un padre (uno de los MEJORES PERSONAJES EVER) hipocondriaco sin mucho que hacer en todo el día. Me encanta la evolución de Emma , adoro a Jane Fairfax (que sería la típica protagonista en cualquier otra historia), a la enternecedora señorita Bates, al señor Knightley y hasta al caradura de Frank Churchill. Todos me parecen personajes complejos y maravillosamente bien retratados. Y luego está el hecho de que esta novela sea especialmente cómica, llena de enredos y malentendidos, que por otra parte se presta a disfrutar aún más en relecturas. Una gozada y sin duda, sí, tanto tiempo después constato que sigue siendo mi libro preferido de Austen junto a 'Persuasión'
The second reading of Emma pleasantly surprised me. When the initial embarrassment of having under-appreciated this amazing work by Jane Austen passed, I was able to wallow myself in the pleasure this reading gave me. My former perception of the book, I realized, had arisen from my misconstruction of Emma Woodhouse. My strong dislike of her has clouded my judgment. But now the sky is cleared, I've truly fallen in love with the book, and in justice to both the book and the author, am compelled to amend my review.
Emma Woodhouse is quite a different heroine to what we are used to in an Austen novel. We are used to the all-good type. But Emma is not so. In Austen's words, Emma is "handsome, clever and rich", a first in a work of hers. For the first time, Jane Austen has sorted out an upper-class heroine who enjoys "the power of having rather too much her own way and a disposition to think a little too well of herself". Proud, conscious of her high rank, overly satisfied in her judgment, Emma Woodhouse's treatment toward the community of Highbury is one of condescension. Except for Mr. Knightley and her beloved Westons, Emma considers all others to be below her in rank and shows them only a dutiful kindness without any true warmth which is required of one of her station in life. Little that she foresees of the consequences of her own vanity, envy, and misjudgment, happily meddling with one young woman's life and gossiping about another. But when her very happiness is threatened, the influence of the one man she loves properly humbles her and makes her see her own faults.
I truly liked Emma and was very much charmed by her this time. Not that she was easy to tolerate, but I could better understand and appreciate her innate good qualities which come out in full force when she receives a rough shake to her heart.
Mr. Knightley, on the other hand, contributes to the weight of the story by being constant, strong, kind, open, and sensible. He is the opposite of Emma with his sincere respect for people of every rank and situation in life. Mr. Knightley is a real gentleman, and the gentleman any lady would wish for. I loved the character. He is one of the best Austen heroes.
Emma brings out the class distinction of the Regency society like no other Austen work. Everything is centered on it, love, marriage, and even association. Austen with her clever and witty writing satirically portrays this social “comedy”. There is romance alright. Austen wouldn’t have abandoned the popular theme, but it is the social role played by “rank” that has engaged her mind when writing Emma.
It is a light and entertaining work, and a touch of comicality made it all the more enjoyable. It is also a complete work with a beautiful story, characters from different stations of life, social criticism, all being closely knitted into a perfect and wonderful piece of literature.
With Emma, four of Jane Austen novels have become my favourties. Perhaps, I’m partial because of my love for her, but I’m confident in my assertion that none can challenge her brilliancy in writing, in her ability to create lifelike and universally loved and respected characters, and her talent in painting a true picture of Regency society.
Emma a young woman in Regency England lives with her rich, but eccentric widowed father Henry Woodhouse, in the rural village of Highbury, always concerned about his health (hypochondriac, in the extreme) and anybody else's , Mr. Woodhouse constantly giving unwanted advise to his amused friends and relatives they tolerate the kindly old man. Miss Woodhouse ( they're very formal, in those days), is very class conscious a bit of a snob ( but lovable) and will not be friends with people below her perceived rank, the Woodhouse family is the most prominent in the area, she likes matchmaking... her friend and governess Miss Taylor with a little help from Emma, married Mr.Weston a close friend of their family, later regretted by both father and daughter as her presence is greatly missed. And older sister Isabella, earlier had left to be the wife of John Knightley and moved away, she is ... in a lonely place. Then Emma surprisingly chooses a protege Harriet Smith, a seventeen year old girl with an unknown background, ( illegitimate? ) lives in Mrs.Goddard's boarding school for girls, hoping to groom the unfortunate young lady and raise her to a higher position in society. Besides the slightly spoiled Miss Woodhouse , even her friends call her by that name, will have a companion to talk to. Mr.Woodhouse's company lacks stimulation understandably, how much talk about illness the devoted daughter, or anyone else take? Emma believes she can discover people's emotions by watching them, know who they love, not true but that fact doesn't stop the lady from trying to marry off Harriet, thinking her own beaus really want to marry Miss Smith instead of her, big mistakes follow hurt feelings, embarrassing situations ironically the clueless Emma encouraged Harriet to turn down Robert Martin, a farmer with an excellent reputation but a lowly position in the world. George Knightley a nearby neighbor, the older brother of John, rents the farm to Mr.Martin, he thinks very well of the young man ...Another neighbor , good Miss Bates a spinster, never lacks words ...too much so, for many, but her friends allow it, ( most of the time) her niece, the pretty Jane Fairfax, her late sister's daughter, comes to visit her and her mother, the grandmother is happy also to see their beautiful relative. She plays the piano quite well and sings delightfully too, better than Emma and the envious girl, becomes a rival, Miss Woodhouse has long been the local leader of society here, what there is of it...The prodigal son of Mr. Weston and his late first wife, returns, mysteriously (some secrets are hidden), Frank Weston Churchill, adopted by his rich aunt and uncle. Emma and Jane are attractive to the charming gentleman , but the wise George Knightley doesn't feel he is a serious man, a bit of a fop, more interested in his appearance than anything more. A wonderful book about manners, class rank and country society of the landed gentry, in old England, that doesn't exist anymore...
Oh my goodness, did I love. At one point, toward the end, when the thing that Austen was working toward happened, I literally fell down from the couch to the rug. Emma herself is a unique creation, a headstrong, misguided, self-confident girl who we can't help but love, because she is honest. The love complications are innumerable, the humor is excellent, and the writing is spectacular. Without the intensely crafted plot of Pride and Prejudice, say, Austen's sentences are left to carry the book, something that they are more than capable of. It was interesting to read this in concert with Dostoyevsky's THE IDIOT, because they have much in common, and because there is as much truth and insight here, with additional pleasures. Austen is habitually underrated for the usual reasons, and also because the adaptations of her work showcase her facility with plot more than language. On the page, one wants to read her fast, but one also wants to linger in the prose.
There is not much I can add about this novel that it wasn't already said. I love Jane Austen but this was not my favourite. I know that I am not supposed to like a character to appreciate a novel but Emma was really insufferable. Also, the subject did not hold a lot of interest for me. I liked it but Pride and Prejudice is still my favourite. I might write more when I have a bit more time or I may not.
Book 5 of 6 completed of my accidental Austen binge. I have to say that Emma is enormously entertaining. But as I was reading this book a strange realization came over me. At this point I think I'm becoming deeply acquainted with Austen's wit and tricks, and there is one quality that I find the most incredible.
Jane Austen is amazing at writing about annoying people. There are the annoying neighbors, the annoying suitors, the annoying relatives. She recreates the inane way in which these annoying people prattle on with such humor. Austen's so clever with her writing that this is not annoying for the reader and somehow becomes wickedly funny. You share in the joke with a raised eyebrow. And, Austen manages to do all this without being mean or nasty.
Emma could be called annoying at times. She's not a particularly likable heroine. She assumes much, is spoiled and a bit unaware. But Austen also shows how she learns from her mistakes and Emma is always endeavoring to improve which makes her more interesting and charming over time. I've seen so many movie versions of Emma, and various remakes, but for some reason Clueless came to my mind the most while reading this book.
For me, this book more enjoyable than the films because I found it deeply satisfying to get a much clearer picture of of the satellite characters. For example, SPOILER ALERT, the attraction between Mr. Churchill and Jane Fairfax is explained in detail. It was a side story that always rang a little false to me in the films. But here Frank emerges as less of a serious rake than some of the other Austen bad boys: he's as thoughtless and selfish, he wants to have his cake and eat it too, but he's much less offensive than Willoughby or that odious Mr. Fairfax from Mansfield Park who's downright sinister. And Frank and Emma's faux love reminded me of a pair of popular kids at high school who play a game with no real tenderness behind it.
Jane Fairfax is also very interesting. Now having read five of her books, you begin to see the Austen patterns here. Austen has a fixation with women with "low prospects." The heroine of Mansfield Park is a cousin of unimpressive birth, Anne in Persuasion is past her prime. Here Austen presents not one, but two women with tough futures ahead of them. Jane who is going to be a governess and Harriet Smith who seems to be caught in some sort of unmarried woman limbo-land.
I like how Austen balances the qualities of these two women, who are beautiful and full of noble qualities against an unpleasant future. Jane keeps her dignity while being bossed about by Mrs. Elton and sweet-tempered Harriet is pushed around by Emma. You feel Austen's sympathy for the underdog. She's rooting for these women to triumph. They are trapped in a glass jar of limitations must do their best to navigate their constraints, even if that means marrying wonky Frank Churchill. But ultimately all of Austen's characters, including Emma, are in a box of limitations.
I love Jane Austen, but sometimes I get bit tired of reading about the device of marriage as a strategic move.
***First time I've ever used the word annoying seven times in a review! But in the best sense.
I’ve felt the need to wallow in nostalgia these last few weeks, and in between my more recent reads, I’ve been trying to fit in some of the ones that I’ve loved in the past - and so it was that I found myself rereading Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’.
I’d forgotten how good Austen is at detailing the minutiae of her characters lives, and making them irresistible. Loved it all over again!
Austen's comedy of manners, which depicts interactions within an elite community that raises the issues of courting and marriage, expected gender roles, age and social status within the world of Victorian values and sees Austen deliberately create an unlikable protagonist in the super privileged and at times maddeningly narrow minded in how she sees others, Emma; a work that doesn't quite do it of me, despite smatterings of great wit.
Austen is so good at creating the unlikeable character that I completely buy into it, and struggle to care about her or indeed anyone; it feels like the original romantic comedy, a masterpiece of its age and providing so many of the rom-com staples, it just isn't that interesting. 5 out of 12
Of all of Austen's books - and I've read them all several times - I learn the most from Emma. I believe that one of Austen's goals in writing is to teach us to view the rude and ridiculous with amusement rather than disdain. And in Emma we have the clearest and most powerful picture of what happens when we don't do this: when Emma speaks out against Miss Bates. Though rude on Emma's part, we can't help but love her for her mistake and feel her shame because we've all been there. When I feel I can't take [for example] one more family situation, one more draining phone call, one more person unloading on me, I read Emma and remind myself how to behave.
Still not the full review, just a warm-up exercise. :)
You could not shock her more than she shocks me; Beside her Joyce seems innocent as grass. It makes me most uncomfortable to see An English spinster of the middle class Describe the amorous effects of "brass," Reveal so frankly and with such sobriety The economic basis of society.
- W. H. Auden, Letter to Lord Byron (1936)
"While twelve readings of Pride and Prejudie give you twelve periods of pleasure repeated, as many readings of Emma give you that pleasure, not repeated only, but squared and squared again with each persual, till at every fresh reading you feel anew that you never understood anything like the widening sum of its delights." - Reginald Farrer
In Emma Woodhouse Jane Austen presents us with her own conundrum that is much harder to figure out than the one written by Mr Elton in the novel itself.
We have this incredibly privileged heroine, "handsome, clever and rich", the centre of the small Universe that is the village of Highbury, around whom society revolves so to speak, seemingly with no problems at all, unlike any other Austen heroines before or after her.
But Jane Austen being Jane Austen, we are shown that having no problems is what Emma's problem is, actually. Emma's beloved governess & companion marries and she is left at a loose end. At 21 she is too old to play with dolls so she decides to take up a new hobby to kill time and turns to matchmaking instead. Harriet Smith, a socially and intellectually inferior, but kindhearted and utterly submissive young girl is to become Emma's "live Barbie doll". She makes Harriet turn down an offer of marriage from a deserving farmer in favour of a "Ken" of her own choosing (Mr. Elton, the local vicar of Highbury), thinking that she knows better than her protegé or anyone else for that matter. However, people rarely dance in perfect choreography to her tunes, no matter how many strings she tries to attach & her plan badly misfires. She does not give up however and with admirable or exasperating perseverance goes on to meddle in the lives of others imagining herself to have everyone figured out, while not even being aware of her own heart. Emma is taught some hard lessons of self-knowledge and we, readers may obtain considerable satisfaction from the "Schadenfreude" none of us are perfectly free from (as Jane Austen very well knew), while at the same time understanding and accepting Emma fro what/who she is.
Although using this trite doesn't mean that the fact is any less true, it is still at the risk of sounding cliché when I say that Jane Austen's classic, Emma, is like a breath of fresh air when juxtaposed to the miasmal novels in the publishing market today; especially for someone who has been on a YA binge of late. You see, the reason why I went for Emma as my first Austen read is because my mother has seen the latest movie adaptation, and she claims it to be her very favorite. Mind you, she hasn't read any thing of Austen's—but she loves the movie so very much that she kept pestering me to watch it (I suppose I'll have to pester her to read the book now, won't I?). To which I continually said that, no, no, I will not watch the movie until I've read the book; I positively hate to watch the movie adaptation before reading the book; it virtually cancels out any chance of me ever finding enough interest in reading the actual book to its completion. So, after picking up Emma at least ten times in the past year, reading the first few chapters, only to sit it back down again, I finally—the other day—decided I wanted to read something of quality and something that is truly written well. Well, that is definitely Emma.
Emma, herself, is, for me, just as stunning as she is flawed; I started out thinking her a walking vexation, but somewhere in the 400+ pages I began to warm to her like you would with any inevitably lovable—albeit, at times, antagonising—character. Emma's devotion to her father is also very admirable. And by the end, Emma seemed so much more humble and less meddling that I couldn't help but be very pleased with her character. My thoughts on Mr. Knightley are not as easily expressed; in the beginning I found him merely interesting, but somewhere in the middle he began to hold my interest as much as a mother would hold her infant (if that isn't too much of an odd metaphor); by the end he managed to surpass virtually all of the other male characters of which I've been exposed to. Granted, Mr. Knightley isn't in Emma nearly enough for my satisfaction—but when he is, the aforesaid is all too true. I can't quite place my finger on what it is, exactly, about him that made such an impression on me—other than that I've always had a strong fascination with a true gentleman, being as that sort of thing is practically extinct in this day and age; also, I've grown very jaded with the often monotonous male characters of today. And I do believe that my reaction to Mr. Knightley has left me at a wonder as to just want my reaction will be upon meeting the famous Mr. Darcy. I'll doubtlessly swoon just as countless other lasses have since P&P debuted in 1813.
I really think that my hesitation in reading this—as well as Austen's other works—has nothing to do with the writing, or the story, or the pacing; because, and I know this will sound strange, but, I've always loved a book that is just about people going about their daily lives and doing things—little trivial things, even—and simply living; people say that Emma doesn't have much story and is really just people planning balls and Emma interfering in peoples' lives—but I loved all of that! I'll take everyday living over complex plots any day. No, I think the reason for my waiting so long is that I psyched myself out of reading something like this; I kept thinking that it would be too long or too boring or too archaic or too something or another, but in reality this is the very type of thing that I love to read about. Regency, Victorian, etc. . . . I love to read about all of the historical periods, and I'm so very glad that I stopped procrastinating.
So, I enjoyed this a great deal and I've set a goal for myself to read all of Austen's works by this time next year (although I kindly ask you not you hold me to it ;)). I plan to continue with her other slightly lesser known titles, and finish with what appears to me to be the most well known and highly esteemed, Pride and Prejudice. In a summary, I plan to save the best—or what is often said to be the best—for last.
FAVORITE QUOTE: "One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other."
Although I have many favorite quotes from this (the rest can be read below), that particular quote stood out the most because it is so very true. Expect to see it in my future reviews.
I highly recommend Emma to everyone; both lovers and reluctant readers of classics.
Emma, a young girl living in Highbury village, is a pearl to her daddy. He adores her. She is rich and beautiful, and she knows it. She likes things to go her way. A bit too spoiled, this little one. In this novel by Austen, what is good is precisely the scenes where the characters decide not to follow the path that Emma has traced everything for them. Emma has decided to become a matchmaker. She creates opportunities for characters to meet, especially Harriet's best friend. But will she be taken to her own love game, who sees nothing comes? It is undoubtedly the Austen that I liked the least of the four read so far. The character of Emma did not convince me. I found it, in the end, a bit selfish and not so endearing. But once again, Austen's feather is just delicious, and the environment of the decor pleased me. A good read and entertaining, but not of my favorites like Pride and Prejudice.