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Book Bites: The Annotated Pride And Prejudice, by Jane Austen and David M. Shapard

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It’s hard to say exactly what makes Pride and Prejudice the brilliant novel that it is. (I doubt it’s Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy on his own.)

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine offered to pass down her annotated edition of the book that she couldn’t keep in her new and smaller flat, and I couldn’t be more honoured to provide it with a new home. It was after a good while that I finally finished chewing my way through the 700+ pages of its compact print, and it now pains me to think of the huge numbers of people who read Pride and Prejudicewithout the annotations, remaining ignorant of the historical, social, and linguistic context of the novel.

I suppose that’s one of the attributes of any great work of art: that it transcends time and culture in its universal appeal, and has thus no need for annotations. But digging deeper into the circumstances of the time makes any work of art so much richer, and the experience of contemplating it so much more memorable.

It was only upon reading the annotated version of Jane Austen’s most popular work that I truly grasped the significance of her literary genius: the clever story-telling, the intricate psychology, the delicate humour and light irony.

If you’re a Jane Austen fan, you’ll love the insight that this book provides, bringing an entirely new dimension to the story we are all so familiar with. And if you own several copies of Pride and Prejudice already, you may discard them without regret, for this one is bound to become your dearest!

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