From the start,Jane Austen's work has had an uncanny power to create communities out of diverse persons,and it seems that an entire community of scholars,students,librarians,editors,and general readers has helped me in the preparation of this Norton Critical Edition.I would like first to thank the staffs of the Rare and Manuscript Collections of the Carl A.Kroch Library at Cornell University and of Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton University for making their rich holdings in first editions and background material available to me.Margaret M.Sherry of Firestone Library was particularly helpful through every stage of this project.In addition,more colleagues and students than I can possibly mention here have advised me on matters ranging from the selection of background material to the choice of passages requiring explanatory footnotes;among these Nina Auerbach,Carol Kay,A.W.Litz,Anne K.Mellor,B.C.Southam,Patricia M.Spacks,Joseph Wiesenfarth,and Susan Wolfson offered advice for which I am especially grateful.I would also like to thank Patricia Latkin of Jane Austen Books in Chicago for helping me track down information about green goose,among other things;Henry Churchyard for the resources available on his Jane Austen website;and Mark Turner for running computerized word combination searches,which helped in several textual decisions.
I reserve my deepest thanks for Carol Bemis,Editor of the Norton Critical Editions,for her patience and encouragement;for Jan Fergus,whose knowledge of Austen's texts is matchless and whose assistance has been generous;and most of all for Sarah M.Anderson,whose formidable command of textual scholarship in all its rigors has saved me from many a blunder,and whose unstinting support has made everything possible.
Mansfield Park is an ambitious and difficult novel,the first composed and published exclusively in Jane Austen's adulthood.She was proud of it.Inclined to consider Pride and Prejudice,which she had just published,"rather too light&bright&sparkling,"Austen wrote a novel with all the"shade"her earlier comic masterpiece lacked.Of course,she knew full well that Mansfield Park was different from her previous work——"not half so entertaining,"as she put it-but she was confident it would"sell well"and contribute to the modest but growing commercial success of her previous novels,a success which,as she confided to her brother Frank,"only made[her]long for more."She had reason to suppose herself right.Within six months of its publication by Thomas Egerton in May1813,Austen wrote her niece,"You will be glad to hear that the first Edit:of M.P.is all sold."Naturally Austen supposed that Egerton would agree to a second edition.But Egerton declined.With the assistance of her brother Henry,Austen negotiated with John Murray,who published the second edition in February1816on commission.
It is painful to consider the failure of this enterprise,which Austen entered into with such confidence.There are no contemporary reviews of Mansfield Park.The second edition of Mansfield Park hardly sold at all,and Austen had to pay Murray for its publication costs out of the profits she made from her next novel,Emma.And yet Austen still followed the fortunes of Mansfield Park closely.She carefully recorded even the silliest opinions about the novel voiced by her neighbors or relations.And when Murray sent her Sir Walter Scott's positive(anonymous)review of Emma in the prestigious Quarterly Review,she had nothing to say,except to protest"the total omission of Mansfield Park,"adding with some asperity,"I cannot but be sorry that so clever a Man as the Reviewer of Emma,should consider it as unworthy of being noticed."
In our own time,Mansfield Park has hardly been neglected.Instead,it is avidly read and has the distinction of being Austen's most controversial novel.This is largely because its apparent skepticism about wit,high spirits,and desire appears to announce an abrupt about-face from her previous work.Austen imagined that the overweening Emma Woodhouse would be the heroine no one would like much but herself,but posterity has found it far harder to like Fanny Price,with all her self-doubt and modesty.For some Fanny Price is a prig extraordinaire,and the novel the very acme of sanctimoniousness."What became of Jane Austen?"is the famous question Kingsley Amis asked when he turned in bewilderment from the sparkling Pride and Prejudice to the dour Mansfield Park,appalled to find that the author who"set out bravely to correct conventional notions of the desirable and virtuous"in other novels became in this novel"their slave."Many readers have agreed that something went wrong with Austen in Mansfield Park,and have sought the cause.Did Austen undergo a conversion to Evangelicalism,and thus on the grounds of religious principle dramatize the triumph of priggishness over playfulness,duty over desire?Or,elaborating this answer more psychologically,did she suffer some inner compulsion to revenge herself upon her own imagination,to scourge her wit,to punish the saucy Elizabeth Bennet by recasting her as that shallow,worldling-siren,Mary Crawford?Did she suffer some other sort of"crisis"which,with its attendant fatigue,made her yearn for stasis,submerging personality in principle,and foregoing energy for repose?
Over and against these readers have been those who feel that Mansfield Park does not stand out as the oddball of Austen's canon,but is indeed her most central work insofar as it posits stability,authority,custom,sobriety,and staunch morality as values cultivated in the country houses of the Tory gentry.For such readers,Fanny and Edmund are attractive,sensible,and sympathetic despite their passing flaws;the rootless Crawfords are patently unfeeling,amoral,and materialistic;and the novel as a whole rigorously moral in meting out its rewards to the deserving and its punishments to the undeserving.
Of course,there are many intermediary positions as well,for Mansfield Park is a profoundly experimental novel,challenging to read in part because it refuses to let us repose our full confidence in any single character or mode:it is skeptical not only about witty heroines,after all,but also about ponderous paternal figures,who turn out to be mer- cenary rather than judicious;about sober clergymen,who turn out to be benighted and self-deceiving rather than steady;about modest good girls,who are painfully inhibited and more than a little naive;and finally even about the values of the country estate itself,which,notably unlike its counterpart Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice,is here tainted by its association with the slave trade and Sir Thomas's"business"in Antigua.
Critical fortunes change.Squarely taking on such issues as class,gender,sexuality,religion,education,theatricality,and colonialism,Mansfield Park now appears to occupy a more critical place in Austen's canon and in literary and cultural history generally than that perennial favorite Pride and Prejudice.The present edition is designed to further this trend.
Mansfield Park is noticeably more allusive than Austen's other novels.In addition to the complete text of Elizabeth Inchbald's Lovers'Vows,I have provided other contextualizing material about education,female modesty,religion,theatricals,clerical responsibility,and landscape improvement,along with selections from William Cowper's poetry and contemporary remarks on that other,seldom-discussed play in the novel,Henry VIII.In addition,I have provided background material on the slave trade and its abolition,which is currently an urgent subject of critical interest-some debates in the House of Commons,of which Sir Thomas is a member,which represent the opinions of West Indian planters and Liverpool interests;and some selections from Thomas Clarkson,an author beloved of Austen,on the abolition of the slave trade.
Because these selections are comparatively generous,I have scaled back on nineteenth-and early-twentieth-century background material with a somewhat better conscience,declining to represent material from Austen's letters,on the grounds that relevant portions are cited in the Criticism section.It has been harder to pare down selections from modern criticism,as the interests of space required.The essays included here represent important,often competing,critical trends-such as feminism,historicism,poststructural ism,cultural studies,and the literary marketplace-and together they suggest how and why the controversy over this rich and complex novel is not likely to end soon.There has been much splendid scholarly work on this novel that I have not been able to include,and I have listed such work in the selected bibliography.本书摘自微信公众号（开心一书） ，更多内容请关注后搜索《Mansfield Park（曼菲尔德庄园）》阅读！