Persuasion [ePub]

by Jane Austen


* Contains literary critiques, detailed biographies, and detailed historical context


Persuasion is Jane Austen's last completed novel. She began it soon after she had finished Emma, completing it in August, 1816. She died, aged 41, in 1817; Persuasion was published in December of that year (but dated 1818).

Persuasion is widely appreciated as a moving love story despite what has been labelled as a simple plot, and exemplifies Austen's acclaimed wit and ironic narrative style. The novel has been described as a great "Cinderella" story (introduction to the Penguin Classics edition). All the similarities between the fairy story and Austen's novel are there; a heroine who is generally unappreciated by those around her; a handsome prince who arrives but seems more interested in the "more obvious" charms of the Musgrove girls than the more steady charms offered by Anne; a moment of realisation and the final happy ending when those who did not appreciate have time to realise what they have lost. It has been said that it is not that Anne is unloved, more that those around her no longer see her, she is such a fixed part of life that her likes and dislikes, wishes and dreams are no longer considered, even by those who claim to appreciate her, like Lady Russell.

At the same time, the novel is a paean to the self-made man. Captain Wentworth is just one of several naval officers in the story who have risen from humble beginnings to affluence and status on the strength of merit and luck, not by inheritance. It marks a time where the very roots of society were changing, as 'old money' (exemplified by Sir Walter) had to accommodate the rising strength of the nouveau riche (such as Wentworth). The success of Austen's own two brothers in the Royal Navy is probably significant. There are also clear parallels with the earlier novel Mansfield Park as there are inherent and sustained messages of the importance of constancy in the face of adversity and of the need to endure.

Austen makes some biting comments about 'family' and those we choose to associate with. Mary wants to nurse Louisa but doesn't want to nurse her son. Elizabeth prefers Mrs Clay to her sister who is 'amongst the nobility of England and Ireland', yet courts the attentions of Lady Dalrymple.

Through her heroine's words, Austen makes pointed remarks about the condition of women as 'rational creatures' at the mercy of males (only) recording history, writing books, etc., while castigating women's "inconstancy" and "fickleness". "Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. ...the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything" (Persuasion Volume 2 Chapter 11). She ends the novel with the similar theme to Pride and Prejudice, where the heroine leaves the others behind with marriage.

This Special Critical Edition of PERSUASION (Cambridge World Classics) is the only volume which contains the complete unabridged novel along with A MEMOIR OF JANE AUSTEN a comprehensive biography of Jane Austen by Jane Austen's nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh. A Memoir of Jane Austen was the first major biography of the novelist Jane Austen (1775–1817) published in 1869 by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh. A family project, the biography was written by James Edward Austen-Leigh but owed much to the recollections of Jane Austen's many relatives.


This edition contains special Kindle enabled features, including interactive table of contents, text-to-speech capabilities which enable audiobook features, as well as words that can be looked up on the Kindle supplied built in dictionary.



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