Since my last posting I have acquired two new specimens to add to my collection of editions of Mansfield Park. *lets out hollow & booming dr evil type laughter* Now I have fourteen copies. One of the new ones is in two volumes, it's actually part of what was once a ten-volume set of the Complete Works (though of course it was not the complete works it was just the six published novels.) It is published by Dent, the text block is gilt on the top edge and the other edges are ragged, it's got decorative headpieces and six lithographed illustrations. It was printed in 1892 and it's the oldest one I have, now, and I really wish that some previous owner had not erased the (other?) previous owner name from the Ex Libris crest printed inside the cover. I can see the traces of the writing but not well enough to make out the name.
The other one is a 2007 printing from this ugly exercise in fish nor fowl repackaging by Worth Press which they are calling the Winchester Edition of JA's novels. The book is about the size of a scholarly hardback and it's got stiff black boards, rounded corners, and a black elastic strap to hold the pages closed. It looks like an overgrown Moleskine except that Austen's signature and the book's title are tackily embossed into the front in anodised aluminium colours. Inside the tack continues: there is a grab bag of critical introduction type material, some of it good and some utterly worthless and weird (two pages of synoptic descriptions of the principal characters??) and horribly colorised reproductions of the illustrations Hugh Thomson did for the 1897 Macmillan edition (which I have a first of), but nastiest of all is the actual text, which looks as though it's been badly reproduced on a cheap colour photocopier - there's a sort of ghostly bleed or aura around the characters - and the font used for chapter headings is yucky.
When I bought this latter book in Readers' Feast yesterday I couldn't help noticing that the Austen bit of their classics section had about 200 books in it.
Having said how nasty the Worth edition is, the two Dent volumes admittedly also have gold-embossed crests and 'J.Austen' on the covers. I suspect they were fairly cheap gift editions too in their day. It's just that their day did this sort of thing more sympathetically (pages not laser printed etc).
I'm still looking for: a tie-in with Frances O'Connor on the front (will find one easily, it's just a matter of time), a 1908 Dent with the colour drawings by HENRY Brock (I have the one with drawings by CHARLES Brock - not as nice and much easier to come by), a representative mid-century schools edition printed on onionskin with a red cover, like a Nelson or a Chapman & Hall, the 1950s pocket edition by MacDonald with colour drawings by Philip Gough, a 1960s paperback with a pulp romance cover (saw one once but didn't buy it, stupid!) , the strange 1940s one with drawings by Wallis Mills and intro by Queenie Leavis. I would love to have a Bentley from the 1830s - 1880s, a Groombridge from 1875, and a Routledge yellowback from the 1870s, but I accept I have no chance at all of ever getting any of those.
In other Mansfield Park news, I have been sent several emails advertising a public lecture at unimelb on May 19, by Deirdre Coleman, on the novel - the second major public lecture on MP in Melbourne in six months - I am looking forward to it very much. She is going to talk about the anti-post-colonial backlash trend in MP criticism. Did you know there was a backlash against all the slavery stuff? I recommend it highly. Now it appears the next thing is the backlash against the backlash.
Some of the emails forwarded to me had the cc's blanked out but the majority didn't; I enjoyed looking to see who else had been deemed worth the trouble of inviting and wondering whether any of them would be keen to know about the backlash and so forth. I don't expect Mark Davis will attend, since he has surely already spotted that Sir Thomas Bertram, Mr Price, Admiral Crawford Mrs Norris etc are actually baby boomers in disguise.