Review by Choice Review
There is loss as well as gain in Le Faye's revision of R.W. Chapman's hitherto standard presentation of Jane Austen's letters (Jane Austen's Letters to Her Sister Cassandra and Others, 2nd ed., 1952). The most important gains are seven new Austen letters, one draft, and a new letter by a brother. Le Faye has vastly expanded Chapman's biographical and topographical indexes, turning them into encyclopedic sources useful in their own right; her businesslike annotations identify more people and places than Chapman's did and give details of Austen's habits of revision that Chapman ignored. The loss is Chapman's indexes of topics and of "Jane Austen's English"; also gone are the text of Austen's will, Chapman's charmingly expansive notes on small details of social life--from the making of "brown butter" to kinds of carriages--and his illustrations. Astonishingly, Le Faye's apparatus and notes (half the book) are not themselves indexed; and in this era of computer typesetting, there is no longer any reason not to put substantive annotations at the foot of each page. This new edition will be necessary in all research libraries, though ordinary readers will probably still prefer Chapman's more homely and inviting pages. D. L. Patey; Smith College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.