Emma by Jane Austen (1816)

by Rachel Baker on November 2, 2013

The Guardian’s seventh book in the 100-week series on the 100 best novels written in Emma by Jane Austin, published in 1816. Austen’s Emma is truly her masterpiece.

Austen, for some, is simply the supreme English novelist, on any list. Some will say: she is the greatest. Nominate all six, from Pride and Prejudice on. But the rules of our selection only allow one title per author: there has to be a choice. So, to represent her fiction here, I’ve chosen Emma for three particular reasons.

…Emma was written in a white heat – according to the scholars – between 21 January 1814 and 29 March 1815 (the year of Waterloo), and it comes as the climax to a remarkable period of intense creativity. Pride and Prejudice (whose first draft, “First Impressions”, was written in 1796-7) had been published in 1813, Mansfield Park in 1814. Austen’s work was becoming something of a cult, and she was aware of her audience. Indeed, the Prince Regent was a fan (Emma is dedicated to him). Austen must have been conscious that she was no longer writing just for herself. She was at the peak of her powers, yet had less than two years to live. All this, I think, gives Emma an added depth as the final flowering of a great artist and her work.


Book 6 of the series: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

Book 5 of the series: Tom Jones

Book 4 of the series: Clarissa

Book 3 of the series: Gullivers Travels

Book 2 of the series: Robinson Crusoe

Book 1 of the series: The Pilgrims Progress

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Amazon Wish ListEvernoteFlipboardInstapaperNewsVineSpringpadWordPressTypePad PostStumbleUponLiveJournalPocketRedditShare

Previous post:

Next post: