Title: The Annotated Emma
Author: Jane Austen and David M. Shapard
Genre: Classic fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from the publisher
First line: Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.
Publisher’s blurb: From the editor of the popular Annotated Pride and Prejudice comes an annotated edition of Jane Austen’s Emma that makes her beloved tale of an endearingly inept matchmaker an even more satisfying read. Here is the complete text of the novel with more than 2,200 annotations on facing pages, including:
-Explanations of historical context
-Citations from Austen’s life, letters, and other writings
-Definitions and clarifications
-Literary comments and analysis
-Maps of places in the novel
-An introduction, bibliography, and detailed chronology of events
-Nearly 200 informative illustrations
Filled with fascinating information about everything from the social status of spinsters and illegitimate children to the shopping habits of fashionable ladies to English attitudes toward gypsies, David M. Shapard’s Annotated Emma brings Austen’s world into richer focus.
I have been enjoying my rereads of Austen this year, and the enjoyment has been multiplied by the fact that I’m reading David Shapard’s annotated editions. Reading these books is like having all the information in an encycopledia of the time put right into the text. The best thing is that the notes are on each facing page – no paging forward and backward looking for footnotes.
Because I’ve read so much literature of this time period, many of the definitions and historical notes contain information I’m already aware of. But this book has so much more than historical notes and notes on word usage – there are quotes from Austen herself that lend insight into the text, maps and drawings of the places mentioned in the book, and a ton of illustrations.
The illustrations were my favorite part of the book. Shapard has included drawings of clothing of the time, the various carriages and carts used for transportation, pieces of period furniture, and drawings of daily farm and village life. I wish I could show you examples, but if you go to the book’s page on Random House, you can browse inside the pages and see for yourself.
Some of Shapard’s notes do include spoilers, but he has clearly marked them to warn anyone who is coming to the work for the first time. This is definitely the way to read Austen, and I am excited to have Shapard’s Annotated Sense and Sensibility waiting on my bookshelf.