Author: Jane Austen
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: John Murray
Publication Date: 1818
Genre: Classic Fiction
Cost: Rs. 211 (Paperback), Rs. 190 (Hardcover)
At twenty, seven, Anne Elliot is no longer young and has few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she had been persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a handsome naval captain with neither fortune nor rank. What happens when they encounter each other again is movingly told in Jane Austen's last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension but, above all, it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities.
Persuasion opens with a brief history of the Elliot family as recorded in Sir Walter Elliot's favourite book, The Baronetcy. We learn that the Elliots are a respected, titled, landowning family. Lady Elliot, Sir Walter's wife died fourteen years ago and left him with three daughters: Elizabeth, Anne, and Mary.
The issues of class rigidity and social mobility are the most important themes in Persuasion. Marriage and the naval profession are two means by which individuals may improve their social class. Austen is not a revolutionary; she defends the values and traditions of respect for the social structure. Yet she is subtly subversive in her support of greater social mobility.
The novel asks whether it is better to be firm in one's convictions or to be open to the suggestions of others. After being dismissed by Anne eight years ago, Captain Wentworth believes strongly that any woman he marries will have a strong character and independent mind.
The idea of separate spheres was a nineteenth-century doctrine that there are two domains of life: the public and the domestic. Traditionally, the male would be in charge of the public domain (finances, legal matters, etc.) while the female would be in charge of the private domain (running the house, ordering the servants, etc.). This novel questions the idea of separate spheres.
In this period of English history, the definition of a 'gentleman' was growing increasingly more flexible; this novel reflects that change.
Walton Litz in the essay titled "Persuasion: forms of estrangement," gives a concise summary of the various issues critics have raised with Persuasion as a novel:
Persuasion has received highly intelligent criticism in recent years, after a long period of comparative neglect, and the lines of investigation have followed Virginia Woolf's suggestive comments. Critics have been concerned with the "personal" quality of the novel and the problems it poses for biographical interpretation; with the obvious unevenness in narrative structure; with the "poetic" use of landscape, and the hovering influence of Romantic poetry; with the pervasive presence of Anne Elliot's consciousness; with new effects in style and syntax; with the "modernity" of Anne Elliot, an isolated personality in a rapidly changing society.
- 1960: Persuasion, BBC miniseries starring Daphne Slater as Anne and Paul Daneman as Captain Wentworth.
- 1971: Persuasion, ITV miniseries starring Ann Firbank as Anne and Bryan Marshall as Captain Wentworth.
- 1995: Persuasion, made-for-television film (which was released in US theatres by Sony Pictures Classics) starring Amanda Root as Anne and Ciarán Hinds as Captain Wentworth.
- 2007: Persuasion, teleplay, filmed in Bath in September 2006 for ITV1, with Sally Hawkins as Anne, Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth.
- 2019: Rational Creatures, a modernization of Persuasion, with Kristina Pupo as Ana Elías (Anne Elliot) and Peter Giessl as Fred Wentworth (Captain Wentworth)
About the Author:
Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics. Though she published her works anonymously, Austen was so successful that she enjoyed personal and professional independence uncommon to women in Georgian middle-class society.
She published four novels during her lifetime: Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1815). In these and in Persuasion and Northanger Abbey (published together posthumously, 1817), she vividly depicted English middle-class life during the early 19th century. Her novels defined the era’s novel of manners, but they also became timeless classics that remained critical and popular successes two centuries after her death.