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In December 1815, the Morning Chronicle announced the forthcoming publication of a novel named Emma, and soon afterwards the world became a better place in which to live – Jane Austen’s Emma was available.
Emma is the perfect book. In my view, no other novel can equal it for brilliance, depth of psychological perception, understanding of human nature, unrivalled use of language that never wastes a word, and utterly sublime romance and comedy. Emma was well reviewed, praised by the eminent Sir Walter Scott, and critics almost invariably rank it as Austen’s greatest novel.
No other book has ever meant as much to me – it has shaped my life and way of thinking, provided me with behavioural models (sometimes also teaching me how not to behave), and it has given me such unutterable reading pleasure.
Emma is a book that demands to be re-read at least once a year. It changes lives, it enriches lives, it improves lives, it provides friends. It is “the book of books” and in the world of literature it reigns supreme.
This is a ‘bumper’ guide as I had so much to say, and I must warn you it contains many superlatives (how can you not use superlatives when discussing that book?) I try to explain its power, charm, brilliance and importance and attempt to do justice to its perfections. You may not yet have fallen in love with Emma. Hopefully my guide will persuade you to do so.
I adore and worship Jane Austen’s Emma and writing about it has been utter joy. Do you agree that it is the greatest novel in the world? Did you find Emma a sympathetic character?
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