Complete Works of Jane Austen

Cover image for Complete Works Jane AustenThis is another in the Delphi Classics range of Complete Works. As is usual with this range the text is reproduced acceptably, although the space between words occasionally disappears. The table of contents is well organised and the price makes it a very inexpensive way to add to an elibrary of classics.

It includes her six major novels, the novella Lady Susan, two unfinished works, items from her ‘juvenilia’ (written as a teenager for family entertanment) and collections of letters.

The first thing I turned to was Pride and Prejudice. As this book has just celebrated 200 years since publication, and I’m not that much younger, I thought it was high time I read it and found out why its popularity is so enduring. None of the dramatisations had whetted my appetite; I found them slow-paced and tedious.

The book turned out to be engrossing. There’s no denying that it’s slow-paced: so slow that very little actually happens, but it still manages to be entertaining. The whole book is a social commentary, although dealing with a very narrow stratum of English society. There are no pickpockets, moneylenders or starving orphans. Even the poorest in the cast of characters have servants.

Mr Bennet is a ‘gentleman’ i.e. he has inherited enough property to allow him to live on the income it generates. His problem is that he has only inherited a life interest and on his death the estate must pass to a male relative. He has five daughters, but no son. A distant male relative will inherit and the daughters’ only hope of a secure future is to make a ‘suitable’ marriage.

The slow pace allows the characters to be fully, and brilliantly, developed. Mr Bennet is very endearing and Mr Collins hilariously appalling. What came as a surprise was the humour, although that didn’t conceal the biting mockery of a social system that condemned young women to a life that consisted of nothing but embroidery, art, music – and the pursuit of a husband.

I now understand the longevity.

I bought this Complete Works for Kindle from Amazon. Delphi Complete Works of Jane Austen (Illustrated)