Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Welcome 2014 ~ The Year of 'Mansfield Park'

2014 promises to be another important anniversary year for Austen fans, for it was two hundred years ago that Jane Austen published her fine novel, Mansfield Park. Some critics, including biographer Paula Byrne, list this as their favourite Austen novel, it being the text most favored by Cambridge scholars, such as F.R. Levis, who hailed it as one of the greatest English novels ever written.

The novel itself was penned at Chawton Cottage between February 1811 and 1813 but was published in May 1814 by Thomas Egerton, who published Jane Austen's two earlier novels, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.  The image on the left comes from a beautiful illustrated edition from 1957, showing Fanny at the window, astonished to see William Crawford coming to call on her.  It is a book about making choices, mistakes and finding love right under one's nose.  In this way, Mansfield Park is not very different from Austen's two previous novels, yet this book gives us a real insight into what it was to be a woman without any financial means, completely at the mercy of rich relations, who deserve little respect or admiration.  It is certainly a book to brush away those winter cobwebs and get you thinking.   
So, if you have never read Fanny Price's story, now is the time. There will be no better way to celebrate Austen in 2014.  Happy New Year everyone!