The Annotated Emma

The Annotated Emma

by Jane Austen, David M. Shapard

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307950246
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/20/2012
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 700
Sales rank: 987,971
File size: 29 MB
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About the Author

Jane Austen (1775–1817) was born in Hampshire, England, where she spent most of her life. Though she received little recognition in her lifetime, she came to be regarded as one of the great masters of the English novel.

David M. Shapard is the author of The Annotated Pride and Prejudice, The Annotated Persuasion, The Annotated Sense and Sensibility, The Annotated Emma, The Annotated Northanger Abbey, and The Annotated Mansfield Park. He graduated with a Ph.D. in European History from the University of California at Berkeley; his specialty was the eighteenth century. Since then he has taught at several colleges. He lives in upstate New York.

Date of Birth:

December 16, 1775

Date of Death:

July 18, 1817

Place of Birth:

Village of Steventon in Hampshire, England

Place of Death:

Winchester, Hampshire, England


Taught at home by her father

Read an Excerpt

Volume One

Chapter One

Emma Woodhouse(1), handsome(2), 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 withvery little to distress or vex her.

She was the youngest of the two daughters of a most affectionate, indulgent father, and had, in consequence of her sister's marriage, been mistress of his house from a very early period.(3)  Her mother had died too long ago for her to have more than an indistinct remembrance of her caresses, and her place had been supplied by an excellent woman as governess, who had fallen little short of a mother in affection.(4)

Sixteen years had Miss Taylor been in Mr. Woodhouse's family, less as a governess than a friend, very fond of both daughters, but particularly of Emma. Between them it was more the intimacy of sisters. Even before Miss Taylor had ceased to hold the nominal office of governess, the mildness of her temper had hardly allowed her to impose any restraint; and the shadow of authority being now long passed away, they had been living together as friend and friend very mutually attached, and Emma doing just what she liked; highly esteeming Miss Taylor's judgment, but directed chiefly by her own.(5)

The real evils(6) indeed of Emma's situation were the powerof having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself; these were the disadvantages which threatened alloy to her many enjoyments.(7 )The danger, however, was at present so unperceived, that they did not by any means rank as misfortunes with her.

*    *    *  

(1) Emma is the only of Jane Austen's complete novels to be named after its heroine. The title reflects the great extent to which Emma revolves around its main character, as does its beginning with a description of her (the only other Austen novel to begin this way is Northanger Abbey). the author may have chosen the name "emma" precisely because of the character's centrality, for it seems to have been a favorite name with her. she uses it for the heroine of an unfinished novel, The Watsons, and her fondness for it appears in several letters in which she expresses a wish that someone had the name, disgust that a person with it married someone with an unattractive name, or special indignation that a young lady deprived of sufficent dancing partners should be an Emma (Nov. 30, 1800; April 21, 1805; Dec. 9, 1808). The name's use in England stemmed from its being the name of a medieval queen; after a period in which it fell into disuse, it again became popular in the eighteenth century. 

(2) handsome: attractive. The word was often used to describe women then and had no masculine connotation.

(3) "Mistress of the house" was not simply an honarary title, bestowed here on the sole female in the family, but usually a position of real responsibility. The mistress managed the household, which would include hiring and supervising the servants (in families wealthy enough to have them), deciding on meals, purchasing food and other supplies, and keeping the household budget. She was also expected to serve as hostess for visitors and to perform charitable acts in the neighborhood. Men who lacked a wife or adult daughter would frequently have a sister or other female relative perform these functions. In Emma's case, since she was twelve when her sister married (p. 62), she probably shared these duties with her governess for a while and then assumed full responsibility later.

(4) It was standard for girls in wealthy families to have governesses who took charge of their education; in some cases, girls would also attend school for a few years when older.

(5)  Girls usually finished their education by eighteen, so this more equal situation would have prevailed for at least three years. A family would typically dismiss a governess at that point; Mr. Woodhouse's rentention of Miss Taylor testifies to two of his leading characteristics, a kind solicitude for others and a hatred of anything that could disturb his existing routine.

(6) evils: drawbacks, disadvantages. "Evil" then was used more widely than today, and with not as strong a connotation of malevolence.

(7) The author here announces the central theme of the novel,  namely the way that Emma's many advantages, personal and social, have led her to an excessive confidence and vanity that will bring trouble to herself and others. Of course, many, including Emma herself, would not regard these two things, especially the power of having her own way, as disadvantages. But Jane Austen, in keeping with strong cultural and intellectual currents of the time, believed firmly in the need for humility and self-restraint, and she frequently demonstrates these principles in her writings.

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The Annotated Emma 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Vic-Richmond More than 1 year ago
Emma, Jane Austen's longest novel, is the only one of her books named after her heroine. Yet, as Jane Austen herself put it, "I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like." The Annotated Emma by Jane Austen, edited and annotated by David M. Shapard might well change my mind about this privileged young woman. In the preface to The Annotated Emma, David M. Shapard addresses Emma's unique place in the pantheon of Austen heroines - she's independent, in charge of her household, and flawed. It is her bossy and ultimately clueless nature that drives the plot, which has very little action to speak of. The first half of the book is influenced by Emma's behavior and choices as she moves towards growth and self-awareness, but the second half of the plot is taken over by secondary characters and a mystery. There are no true villains in this rather gentle, bucolic tale. While Frank Churchill is unscrupulous, he is not vile, and Mrs. Elton merely represents an irritating exaggeration (and vulgar mirror) of Emma's worst traits. Life in Highbury is placid. It revolves around its characters, and Jane Austen is at her comic best introducing their follies with humor. The book, with its inevitable happy ending, is not sappy, for it leaves the reader with the sense that Emma will never quite become as perfect on the inside as she is on the outside. One also gets the sense that, as her husband, Mr. Knightley will swiftly act as a brake on Emma's machinations as the "grande dame" of the neighborhood should any of her impulses lead the object of her interest astray. Dr. Shaphard's annotated edition explains almost every detail and minutia in Emma that one can think of. Filled with black and white images (as a visual person, I loved these!), notations, citations, definitions, and explanations, this book is a must-have for Jane Austen fans. Readers who have never quite warmed up to Emma will rediscover her and all the denizens of Highbury in its pages. Throughout this edition, Dr. Shaphard offers his observations of these clues, preceding them with an unmistakable warning, {CAUTION: PLOT SPOILER} to ward off the newbie reader. The maps are quite as informative as the clarifications and illustrations. I recommend this annotated edition to anyone who loves Jane Austen. I even recommend it to the student who publicly announced that she "went into a coma" because she found Emma so BORING. - Vic, Jane Austen's World blog
Patito_de_Hule More than 1 year ago
Synopsis: Emma is young, rich, beautiful, and the most important gentleman's daughter in her neighborhood. When her governess marries and moves away, Emma must find another friend to entertain herself. She chooses Harriet Smith, the love-child of nobody-knows-whom, and boarder at a local country school for girls. Emma, well-meaning but naively self-important, makes a mess by foisting potential suitors upon poor Harriet, while Emma's old friend Mr. Knightly tries in vain to check Emma's eager naivete.  My thoughts: I'm a huge fan of Jane Austen. This is the third time I've read this novel, and I've seen all the movie renditions multiple times. I love watching Emma grow in wisdom throughout the story. And her romance is, in my opinion, the sweetest of those written by Austen. But I recognize that this is a difficult book for many people to get into because of Emma's painful flaws and poor choices. Another reason that Emma is less appealing to some readers is because the narrator's perspective is so unique. The POV focuses almost entirely on Emma's perception of the world, to the point where it is easy to be mislead about what is really occurring since we are only seeing what Emma sees. Emma, especially at the beginning of the novel, tends to be very self-centered and aloof, and so is the narration of the novel. However, even though this POV makes the story harder to get into than the other Austen novels, this is Austen's most appealing work for character study.   The annotations of this book are lengthy and detailed. Many interesting images and comments are included so that we can visualize antique customs, fashions, and furniture that Austen's readers would take for granted. That aspect of the annotations was fantastic. The annotations also included a lot of character analysis commentary, such as "Emma thinks such-and-such is happening, which shows you how much she lacks self-awareness at this stage." These annotations included a lot of spoilers (the reader is warned which annotations include spoilers, but sometimes these warnings were dropped out of the ebook version - so caution should  be practiced if you're reading the book for the first time and you have ebook format). These character analysis annotations were sometimes interesting, but mostly they told me things I'd already knew - either because I was familiar with the story or because I am sensitive to Austen's nuances. Therefore, I think this annotated version is for you if 1)You are interested in having some historical perspective, 2)You are reading the book for the first time and don't mind spoilers, 3)You're re-reading the book, but don't remember the details and nuances, and/or 4)You just love reading annotations. In other words, I am glad that I read this one book from The Annotated Austen series, because I enjoyed the historical perspective notes, but I probably will not pick up any of the others because I think I got the main idea now.