Have you ever finished a book and immediately went to search on wikipedia, just to have some themes and symbols explained, or to see how other people interpreted the book? Or have you ever missed reading books in English class, where every detail could be explained, words and actions put in the right context, and you get so much more from the book then when reading it on your own? If so, I have some very good news for you! Recently I read the book The Annotated Emma and let me tell you, I want all my books to be annotated now. Regular books just won’t do any more.
The Annotated Emma is the original text by Jane Austen printed on the left side, and the annotations by David M. Shapard (PhD and 18th century expert) on the right side. This makes the book very nice and easy to read, since you don’t have to flip to the back of the book or keep up with footnote numbers, and there is plenty of space for the notes and images to go. According to the official website the notes contain:
-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
In this way, I learned that the word “afternoon” was used only for the hour or two between dinner and the full onset of evening, as a result the word was used more in summer. And that mr. Knightly used his farm horses to drive his carriage, which was much cheaper than keeping especial carriage horses (mr. Knightly was a thrifty man when it comes to dating!)
If you love Jane Austen, or enjoyed Emma (the book or the series), you will definitely enjoy this book. You will pick up on more hints and symbols in the text, words and habits are explained, and you get maps and a chronology. It’s an excellent book to read, whether you’ve read a lot of Austen (because you will learn many new facts) or whether you’re an Austen novice and a little scared of a text this big and old (the notes will explain everything!)
The downside (since every review needs one): This book is HUGE! You could bring serious harm to people just by lugging it around in your backpack. That is, if you’re able to lift your backpack with this book in it. Unlike many classic English literature paperbacks, this book is printed on really good quality paper, but this makes it even larger and more heavy. Definitely read at home, preferably at a steel-reinforced table.
Okay, all kidding aside, a book that I heartily recommend. It has just been released and you can purchase it here.