Lady Susan (The Art of the Novella)
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"I am indeed provoked at the artifice of this unprincipled woman."
This high-spirited tale, told through an exchange of letters, is unique in Jane Austen's small body of work. It is the story of Lady Susan, a brilliant, beautiful and morally reprehensible coquette who delights in making men fall in love with her, deceiving their wives into friendship and even tormenting her own daughter, cruelly bending her to her will.
Austen clearly delighted in her wicked heroine—tracing Lady Susan's maneuverings to remarry yet continue on with her lover, and to marry off her young daughter, with great wit, zest and unfailing panache.
This little-known gem, Austen's only epistolary work, is perhaps both her funniest and bitchiest book.
The Art of The Novella Series
Too short to be a novel, too long to be a short story, the novella is generally unrecognized by academics and publishers. Nonetheless, it is a form beloved and practiced by literature's greatest writers. In the Art Of The Novella series, Melville House celebrates this renegade art form and its practitioners with titles that are, in many instances, presented in book form for the first time.
James as not very distant, I had intended within a few days to acquaint yourself and Mr. Vernon with the whole business. I am sure, my dear sister, you will excuse my remaining silent on it so long, and agree with me that such circumstances, while they continue from any cause in suspense, cannot be too cautiously concealed. When you have the happiness of bestowing your sweet little Catherine, some years hence, on a man who in connection and character is alike unexceptionable, you will know what I
VERNON. XXVI. MRS. JOHNSON TO LADY SUSAN EDWARD STREET. I am gratified by your reference, and this is my advice: that you come to town yourself without loss of time, but that you leave Frederica behind. It would surely be much more to the purpose to get yourself well established by marrying Mr. De Courcy, than to irritate him and the rest of his family by making her marry Sir James. You should think more of yourself, and less of your daughter. She is not of a disposition to do you credit
mean, therefore, that Frederica’s acquirements should be more than superficial, and I flatter myself that she will not remain long enough at school to understand anything thoroughly. I hope to see her the wife of Sir James within a twelvemonth. You know on what I ground my hope, and it is certainly a good foundation, for school must be very humiliating to a girl of Frederica’s age; and by-the-by, you had better not invite her any more on that account, as I wish her to find her situation as
this unwelcome guest of yours should not only prevent our meeting this Christmas, but be the occasion of so much vexation and trouble. Kiss the dear children for me. Your affectionate mother, C. DE COURCY XIV. MR. DE COURCY TO SIR REGINALD CHURCHILL. My dear Sir, I have this moment received your letter, which has given me more astonishment than I ever felt before. I am to thank my sister, I suppose, for having represented me in such a light as to injure me in your opinion, and give you
disadvantage of my sister as to persuade her that the happiness of Mr. Vernon, to whom she was always much attached, would be absolutely destroyed by the marriage. And this circumstance, while it explains the true motive of Lady Susan’s conduct, and removes all the blame which has been so lavished on her, may also convince us how little the general report of anyone ought to be credited, since no character, however upright, can escape the malevolence of slander. If my sister, in the security of