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notes from the invalid's couch

You know what's really, really funny (and sort of in keeping with my current 18th century theme)? Jane Austen's juvenilia. I got the urge to read it last night, and while I remembered it being funny, I'd forgotten how laugh-out-loud hilarious a lot of it is. Of course, as my edition is a late '80s Penguin classic (which also contains some of Charlotte Bronte's early writings), it doesn't say this in the blurb. No, it says "Jane Austen exhibits a merciless wit as she lampoons human vanities and vices." Which isn't quite as appealing as it should be, considering how good the jokes are.

I'm very glad that when Penguin Classics underwent a total redesign a couple of years ago, they redid all the blurbs. It's always really annoyed me that "classics" were sold as books you were going to study, not read for pleasure, with dry-as-dust blurbs which didn't actually give any real indication of the plot. Penguin didn't dumb anything down when they revamped the imprint, but they start presenting the books as books you might actually read because you wanted to, not just because you had to write an essay on them, and they actually started warning you that the introduction might contain enormous spoilers - previously it was assumed that you wouldn't care if you were spoiled, because of course you weren't reading it for the plot. Alas, the Juvenilia of Jane Austen is currently out of print, but when Penguin reissue it next year, I hope they'll give it the triumphant blurb it deserves. They can keep the old cover, though, because I really like it.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
glitzfrau
Jan. 14th, 2005 01:43 pm (UTC)
You're absolutely right about the old blurbs. They were loathsome, and academic bunk quite often to boot.

Lovely Anna! I am languishing myself somewhat. Hast thou some book recs from your new year's publisher's haul?
goovie
Jan. 14th, 2005 03:49 pm (UTC)
i love love love jane austen's juvenilia, and it's been way too long since i've read any of it.
stellanova
Jan. 14th, 2005 04:53 pm (UTC)
It's time for a re-read, then! Man, it's so funny - the story in which one of the heroines is a total drunkard made me laugh so much I actually dropped the book.
zoje_george
Jan. 16th, 2005 03:48 am (UTC)
Perhaps lj crashed yesterday because I was trying to post this:

Ah but the Everyman Press edition of Sandition has her juvenilia. At least my edition does.

I've got all my Austen and Brontes in the Everyman Classics.
idella
Jan. 16th, 2005 09:43 pm (UTC)
- previously it was assumed that you wouldn't care if you were spoiled, because of course you weren't reading it for the plot.

It's nice to have an explanation for why the hell they've done that. I'm scared to read the introductions even if I've read the book, but not any of the other books by the same author. And who knows what other books they'll spoil, too? Sheesh.
protoainsley
Jan. 18th, 2005 03:32 pm (UTC)
It really is good to know about that. I've had to stop reading the book in page order, as I prefer, because of those spoilers.
stringy
Jan. 17th, 2005 04:27 am (UTC)
I love Austen's juvenalia - my favourite bit is the line about running mad as often as you choose, but never faint. The show a fantastic sense of humour, I think. I never read the introductions until last now, I've had too many spoilers.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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