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  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2017/10/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , answered prayers, , anthony trollope, , , , , , , , , , j. g. ballard, , joan weigall, , , , , persuasion, , , , the adventures of huckleberry finn, the macdermots of ballycloran, , , , , through the looking glass, , why I want to f*ck ronald reagan   

    15 of the Most Infamous Deleted Chapters in History 

    Revision is a vital aspect of creation; all authors delete, re-write, and occasionally burn entire manuscripts with tears streaming down their faces. Most of the time, deleted chapters occur so early in the writing process that they’re not relevant—or interesting. They’re just the cost of doing literary business. Sometimes, though, the story behind excised material is almost as interesting as the finished version of the book it comes from. The fifteen chapters listed here didn’t make it into the published version of the book—but that hasn’t stopped them from being part of the conversation.

    Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
    Heller’s classic 1961 novel, one of the funniest, darkest, and most complex ever written, took about eight years to write—and remains the defining work of Heller’s career. Put simply, if you’re discussing Joseph Heller, you’re discussing Catch-22, and even Heller seemed to accept this towards the end of his life. Much of his late output was directly connected to his first novel, and in 2003 he published the collection Catch as Catch Can which contained two deleted chapters from Catch-22: “Love, Dad” and “Yossarian Survives” (both of which had been previously published). The chapters provide some background on Nately and Yossarian while offering some of Heller’s most savage mockery of the military—and both chapters work perfectly well as standalone stories, making them perhaps the rare examples of chapters deleted from books because they were too good.

    Dracula, by Bram Stoker
    Stoker’s novel is one of the most influential in all of history, but it originally ended a bit differently from the version you’re familiar with. A deleted chapter detailed Dracula’s castle literally falling apart as he dies. It’s not very long—a grace note, really—and there are several theories as to why Stoker excised it very close to its publication. Some people think he might have been envisioning a sequel and wanted to hedge his bets. Others think he might have worried about being accused of stealing the concept from Edgar Allan Poe. Whatever the reason, reading the chapter does change the tone of the novel just enough to make it significant.

    The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
    Wilde’s only novel originally contained a great deal of homosexual imagery, sexual allusions, and other edgy stuff that made his publisher’s head explode. So his editor forced him to cut a great deal of this “objectionable” material. Even so, the book created a stir upon publication, as it still contained passages that outraged a lot of people, and so Wilde revised the book a second time in an effort to make it acceptable. Wilde’s reward was a novel everyone is still reading and, of course, a few years in jail simply for being a homosexual. In 2011 the uncensored version of the book was finally published with the deleted chapters restored, so you can now read the book in all its dirty glory.

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
    In the early versions of Dahl’s beloved book there were actually eight kids brought into Wonka’s factory, and they had some different adventures—including the original chapter 5, which brings the children and their parents into the Vanilla Fudge Room, where a literal mountain of fudge is worked on by Wonka’s servants with picks and hammers, sending boulders of fudge down to the floor where they’re grabbed by cranes and sent on wagons into a hole in the wall. Sounds delightful until two of the kids and their parents ignore Wonka’s warnings and ride the wagons to what they think will be fudge heaven. Instead, Wonka reveals that the fudge is tipped out of the wagons into a machine that pounds it thin then chops it up. Dahl’s publisher thought this was a bit too nasty for kids, and so the chapter was deleted and didn’t see the light of day until 2014.

    The Martian, by Andy Weir
    The Martian by Andy Weir went through a lot of revision. The original version posted on Weir’s website—still available online if you know where to look—is very different from the final version. A few years ago Weir went on Reddit for an unannounced, secret “Ask Me Anything” session and revealed the original epilogue of the story, which featured Mark Watney cursing at a child who asks him if he’d return to Mars if they asked him. It’s actually kind of a delightful ending, and one we wish they would have included in the movie.

    Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
    The original ending of Dickens’ famous novel was kind of dark and sad: Pip and Estella meet years after the events of the novel, but instead of a bittersweet moment implying a future for the two, both are simply bitter, and they part on savage terms. Dickens liked this ending because he thought it was unexpected and original, but his Beta Readers disagreed, so he changed the chapter to the version we’re all familiar with. After publication he went back and revised the final line, coming up with the perfect “I saw no shadow of another parting from her.”

    Why I Want to F*ck Ronald Reagan, by J. G. Ballard
    In the late 1960s, Ronald Reagan was something new: one of the first “media politicians” who knew that how you said something was more important than what you said, as well as one of the first “far right” politicians in mainstream politics. Although a decade and a half from the presidency, he made an impact that J.G. Ballard found interesting, and he wrote a short work styled as an academic paper describing bizarre experiments to measure Reagan’s sexual appeal. It was meant to be challenging and confrontational—and it sure was. It was originally included in Ballard’s collection The Atrocity Exhibition, but the American publisher of the book actually destroyed the entire printing rather than let it loose on the country. Let that sink in: the publisher destroyed every copy of the book rather than publish this. If there’s a better reason to read it, we’re unaware.

    A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
    It’s well-known that the last chapter of Burgess’ novel was deleted before it was published in the United States; the publisher thought the “softer” ending in which Alex starts to mature and see that his behavior in the earlier portions of the book was wrong would turn off American readers. Indeed, many still prefer the way the book ended in the truncated version, which is also the beat Stanley Kubrick’s classic film version ends on: Alex dreaming of violence, thinking “I was cured all right.”

    The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
    Wells’ novel about a man who invents a time machine established not just one of the sturdiest sci-fi tropes of all time, but a template for the modern speculative novel. Wells’ publisher insisted he add a section showing mankind’s ultimate evolutionary fate, and Wells obliged under protest, writing a chapter in which the time traveler escapes the Morlocks by traveling into the distant future, where he encounters small mammals which he determines are the descendants of humanity. Wells never liked it and had it removed as soon as he was able, and while the story, which you can read under the standalone title “The Grey Man,” is interesting, the book is much better without it.

    Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll
    Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Alice in Wonderland is more Alice than Alice in many ways. The illustrator working on the book sent Carroll a note saying he wasn’t inspired by the “wasp chapter”, and suggested none-too-subtly that if Carroll were looking to cut the book down a bit, the Wasp part would be the place to start. No one knew what he was referring to, however—until 1976 when the missing “Wasp in a Wig” chapter was put up for auction. One problem, however: no one has ever been able to verify that this was actually written by Carroll. Reading it, the reason people have doubts is pretty clear: it’s awful. Either Carroll cut the one example of bad writing he ever managed…or he didn’t write it.

    Picnic at Hanging Rock, by Joan Weigall
    Weigall’s 1967 novel was a sensation at the time, despite the fact that it literally had no ending. The story of college students who disappear while visiting Hanging Rock in Australia was originally ended with a pretty crazy explanation of everything that happened, but Weigall’s publisher suggested the book might do better without the, um, crazy part and so the final chapter was deleted (you can read it here if you want), meaning that the story just stops, and no explanation is offered at all for the mystery. This actually fueled the book’s success, making it into a “must read” at the time. If the Internet had existed in 1967, this book would have broken it.

    The MacDermots of Ballycloran, by Anthony Trollope
    Trollope had very low expectations for his first novel, and these were borne out when it didn’t do very well. Although the novel has gained in reputation since its initial lackluster publication, you have to be careful to get the original 1847 version, because Trollope later hacked his book to death in an effort to…improve it, we guess? He deleted three chapters and changed a great deal of what makes the original novel interesting (mainly the Irish dialects, politics, and the character flaws). The revised version isn’t nearly as good, and the three missing chapters are, ironically, some of the best writing in the book.

    Answered Prayers, by Truman Capote
    Capote’s transformation from brilliant writer to alcoholic gadfly took about twenty years, and in that time he continuously accepted advances and signed contracts for Answered Prayers, a novel he never got around to finishing. Four chapters were published in magazines (the first, “La Côte Basque 1965,” was so obviously based on his real-life friends and acquaintances Capote pretty much lost every friend he had) and they’re pretty hefty, amounting to a novel’s worth of text if put together. But several other chapters have been referenced in Capote’s correspondence—and he claimed he’d written the final chapter first so he’d know where he was going—that have yet to turn up anywhere.

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
    Twain, never one to be typical, wasn’t satisfied to delete a mere chapter, instead opting to delete 665 manuscript pages, essentially an entire shadow version of his all-time classic novel. Twain paused work on the book for three years, and scholars have long argued over where exactly he broke off and what he changed when he returned to the book. The deleted chapters contain plenty of material not present in the final book, and have proved invaluable in trying to determine Twain’s intentions and process.

    Persuasion, by Jane Austen
    Austen was one of the most meticulous writers of all time, and put a lot of effort into revising her novels. Persuasion is one of the few in which we can compare early drafts to see how the novel developed, and Austen’s deleted chapters show a ruthless approach to improving the pacing of the plot and the creation of her characters. Assembling earlier versions of the novel show what her original inspiration was, how her ideas changed as she worked, and cast some light on the sausage-making underneath the charming and compelling narratives Austen created.

    Did we miss any famous deleted chapters?

    The post 15 of the Most Infamous Deleted Chapters in History appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Cristina Merrill 2:39 pm on 2016/05/20 Permalink
    Tags: a room with a view, lady chatterly's lover, persuasion, , the professor, the tenant of wildfell hall   

    5 Classic Romantic Stories That Still Ring True Today 

    Tenant of Wildfell Hall

    The more classic novels I read, the more I realize that people and their problems haven’t changed. Couples of yesteryear had the exact same joys and hopes and miseries and issues that couples today have, from passion-less marriages to abusive relationships; from fertility issues to money problems…the list goes on. It’s easy to see why these novels have stood the test of time. They are excellent reads for any audience, however, I do believe that romance readers may appreciate them just a little bit more. Since love and relationships and feelings were such major themes, well, I can’t help but see these works as primarily romantic stories.

    Here are five classic romantic stories that are as relevant as ever.

    Persuasion, by Jane Austen
    This novel, published in 1817, is the quintessential “the one that got away” tale. It follows my personal favorite story arc/plot line, that of which love once lost comes back, inciting hope for a second chance. Our heroine, Anne Elliot, is 27 years old and single. She was engaged once when she was 19, but broke things off with her fiancé, Frederick Wentworth, because a mother-like figure persuaded her that he wasn’t good enough. Anne and Frederick meet again when she is 27, which is young by today’s romance novel standards, but not so young in Austen’s time. They still love each other, and manage to overcome a good round of problems before they finally have their happy ending. The nicest thing about this book is that it’s about two adults; whereas Austen’s other books are more about young people falling in love, or young women falling in love with older men, Persuasion is about an adult man and an adult woman deciding what to do with the rest of their lives during a time in which not many people had such an option.

    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte
    This novel, published in 1848, shocked readers for many different reasons when it was first released, and some of those reasons still resonate today. The story features alcoholics, dysfunctional families, friends who party way too much, and more. Our heroine, Helen, decides to protect her child from her injurious husband by leaving him—and taking the kid with her. She finds safe haven with the help of her brother, but her new neighbors are curious about this supposed widow. One of these neighbors, Gilbert Markham, soon falls in love with her, but she reveals the truth to him. She can’t marry him because, well, divorce wasn’t really a thing back then. Time passes, and her husband dies, finally freeing her to marry the man she loves. It’s great to see this woman get a second chance at a happy marriage after she made such a poor decision the first time. Helen could easily be placed in a modern romance novel; the troubles she faces (sans the having to wait for a spouse to die to remarry, thank goodness) would still make her a recognizable and relatable character today.

    Lady Chatterly’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
    Here’s a great one for erotic romance fans! It’s not fun for your husband to come back from World War I completely devoid of sexual function, but when you add the fact that he never shows any sign of tenderness, well, that’s just as bad of a problem. Such is the case with Constance, aka Lady Chatterley, whose husband wasn’t exactly Don Juan before the war, but at least he could have sex. Her problem is not just that her husband can no longer have sex, but that he also fails to show any kind of warmth to her. This cold attitude, plus her desire to have a sexually satisfying relationship, leads her into the arms of their gamekeeper, with whom she engages in quite the racy affair. Published in 1928, this novel still rings true today thanks in large part to the troubles faced by the main character. Oh, and Lawrence does not refrain from getting into the nitty gritty details, so those who devour erotic novels might be pleasantly surprised.

    A Room With a View, by E.M. Forster
    This tender novel, published in 1908, is very much a story about never settling, and holding out for the right person. The heroine is Lucy Honeychurch, a young English woman on her first trip to Italy with her cousin, who is a spinster with a spinster-like mentality. Lucy meets an English guy during her travels, and he kisses her passionately, much to her embarrassment. She goes back home and accepts the proposal of a guy who, let’s just say, is not very passionate. Realizing the differences between the two men, Lucy gives her fiance the boot and ends up with the guy who makes her heart race and respects her as a woman and as a person. This book is a relatively light read because our heroine manages to escape what would have been a very problematic marriage.

    The Professor, by Charlotte Bronte
    This has got to be one of the original “finding love abroad” stories. Charlotte Bronte wrote it before Jane Eyre, but it was published posthumously in 1857. The story is partly based on the author’s experiences as a student and teacher in Brussels. The protagonist, William Crimsworth, is like a male version of Jane Eyre. He’s nothing too exciting to his fellow English people, and he goes abroad in the hopes of making a better life for himself. He meets and eventually marries another teacher to whom he is teaching English. While this particular work doesn’t have the prestige of some of Bronte’s other works, we can still appreciate it today for several reasons. Like so many educated young people today, Williams has a hard time finding gainful employment. He becomes somewhat entranced by a not-so-great woman. And when he finally does end up with the right person, they pool their resources together for a financially secure happy ending.

    What classic romantic stories still ring true today for you?

  • Janet Manley 3:30 pm on 2014/07/24 Permalink
    Tags: david malouf, fly away peter, , how i live now, , , john mars den, , meg rosoff, , miles franklin, persuasion, randolf stowe, , speak, , , , , tomorrow when the war began, , victor kelleher, ,   

    6 Great YA Books Every Australian Teen Knows 

    Fly Away Peter

    Not only do Australian teens not get shoved into lockers or have slushies thrown in their faces during high school, we also don’t all read The Catcher in the RyeTo Kill a Mockingbirdand As I Lay Dying in pursuit of great SAT scores (we do, however, read a lot of curricular Steinbeck, so you have us there).

    What, then, are our homegrown YA lit classics about? Well, drop bears, obviously, but also war and dystopias and making out, just like American books! Here are six of the most widely read Australian classics for teens:

    If you loved The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, try Tomorrow, When the War Began, by John Marsden
    Before we all got our knickers in a knot over the complexity and kickbuttness of Katniss, Australian teens were busy imagining themselves as Ellie, the tough, pragmatic hero of this dystopian series.

    Australia is invaded overnight during national celebrations, and most of the population is locked up in prison camps. Ellie and a crew of teenaged country buddies are camping out in the bush, and return home to their farms to find dogs unfed, houses deserted, and broadcasts reduced to occasional cries for help over the wireless. After sneaking into town and glimpsing their families locked up at the fairground, the gang returns to the wilderness to formulate a plan for guerrilla warfare.

    The Tomorrow series is seven books long, over which time Ellie kills (and suffers the moral fallout), falls in and out of love, loses friends, and learns to lead. What the book does so well is shows a character who doesn’t always make perfect decisions, who can be prickly to her lovers and her friends, and who ultimately has to overcome the incompetency of adults (and she is far less manipulated than her Panem equivalent). The gang also consists of one of the most diverse and realistic set of friends I’ve seen in YA lit—there’s the fierce Robyn, sweet, waifish Fiona, godly Homer, easily hurt Lee, courageous Corrie, fallible Kevin, and loner Chris. Plus, it stars the beautiful Australian outback!

    The first book was made into a movie in 2010, if you’d like to check out the cinematic version.

    If you loved The Catcher in the Ryeby J.D. Salinger, try The Merry-Go-Round in the Seaby Randolf Stowe
    Unbelievable as it might seem, not every Australian teen has read the seminal YA novel Catcher in the Rye, and our bedrooms are not covered in J.D. Salinger cover art. However, we do have the beautiful, melancholy Merry-Go-Round in the Sea, about the experiences of a young kid, Rob Coram, in Western Australia during WWII.

    Geraldton, WA, is far from pretty much everything—even Sydney is a continent away—and so when war breaks out in Europe, it seems like a remote problem to six-year-old Rob. He’s insulated by his extended family, including his favorite cousin, Rick. Over the course of the novel, Rick explains that he has to go to war, and while his departure is a shock for Rob, Rick’s return is far more wounding. The much-loved cousin who returns to Geraldton is damaged and hopeless, and Rob’s safe view of the world is broken along with him.

    Listen, this is straight-up one of my favorite books of all time. Rob’s voice is so sweet, so clear, it’s almost as though you are reading The Catcher in the Rye as written by Phoebe, Holden’s precious little sister, and the only good thing in the world. Consider this quote:

    The merry-go-round had a centre post of cast iron, reddened a little by the salt air, and of a certain ornateness…The planks were polished by the bottoms of children, and on every one of the stays was a small unrusted section where the hands of adults had grasped and pulled and sent the merry-go-round spinning.

    Just beautiful.

    If you loved Speakby Laurie Halse Anderson, try Looking for Alibrandi, by Melina Marchetta
    This is not as psychologically probing as Anderson’s novel, but it provides us with a gutsy teen to root for—Josephine Alibrandi is an Italian teenager in Sydney dealing with a tractorload of baggage. Her mighty sixteenth year is the one in which she meets her biological father, goes for her first “motorcycle ride” with a boy, loses her crush to depression, and contends with racism and identity politics at her Catholic high school.

    The book was written by Marchetta as a teen, and seems to have been every Aussie teen’s favorite book at some point. Josephine’s tough-as-nails attitude and sense of humor make it a super fun read, and a realistic look at all the complicated “co-curricular” junk that you deal with in high school.

    If you loved Persuasion, by Jane Austen, try My Brilliant Career, by Miles Franklin
    Were it published today, the subtitle of this book would be My Brilliant Career: *Sarcasm Hand Raised*Miles Franklin is a big deal in Australia, mostly because of this shouty book, written while she was still a teenager. The main character, Sybilla, is marooned out on her alcoholic father’s farm, and is over-freaking-joyed when she receives an invitation to go live at her aunt’s property (think of it like a trip to Bath; this book is set in the 1890s, so it’s written to seem somewhat Victorian). There, a handsome, older farm fellow proposes to her, but Sybilla (who is a bit of a tomboy) doesn’t want to be stuck out on some farm with a hunk of man meat for the rest of her life, so she turns him down. Franklin’s debut looks at the limited options available to women “back then,” and the process of growing up and realizing you have finite options.

    If you loved How I Live Nowby Meg Rosoff, try Taronga, by Victor Kelleher
    The despairing post-WWIII England of How I Live Now could almost work as a prequel to Victor Kelleher’s fantastical YA hit about a dystopian Australia. The book starts two years on from the “Last Days,” when society as we know it collapsed. Teenaged Ben has managed to survive in the bushland west of Sydney, used by hunters for his ability to “call” animals telepathically. Sick of betraying the animals, he decides to return to Sydney, to see what remains of the charred city, arriving at Taronga Zoo. There, life goes on almost as before: the zoo keepers continue to feed the animals, shuttling them between their dens and enclosures from day to night. It is deceptively safe, with food for everyone inside, provided they can earn their keep. Ben is tasked with using his talents to handle Raja, the tiger, but knows that every time he “calls” the animal, Raja gets more irritated. Meanwhile, outside the zoo, survivors want a piece of the sanctuary…

    Kelleher is known in Australia for his YA fantasies, and this book packs a killer punch—not as much from an action standpoint, but through its bleak look at humanity’s return to pointed sticks and torches.

    If you loved To Kill a Mockingbirdby Harper Lee, try Fly Away Peterby David Malouf
    Appearing here under the “precious novel with a social cause” category, Fly Away Peter is another Aussie book concerned with war—this time, it’s World War I—and class. Jim and Ashley become friends when Ashley purchases the land containing Jim’s bird estuary. Ashley is your fancy, and somewhat classist, city slicker, while Jim is a rural dude sensitive to the billions of species of birds in their patch of Queensland. Over time, Jim teaches Ashley to spot the various wildlife surrounding them and to track the migrations. Both men head off for the Western Front after war breaks out, where Jim (more so than Ashley, who is an officer) is exposed to the sundry horrors of trench warfare. He runs into Ashley in the midst of Europe’s meltdown, and they resume tracking the movements of birds. Only, one of them doesn’t complete his migration home.

    Have you read any of these recommendations? What are your Aussie must-reads?

  • Melissa Albert 5:00 pm on 2014/06/02 Permalink
    Tags: , characters we love to hate, , emma, , , , , northanger abbey, persuasion, , , sense and sensibility   

    Ranking the Men of Jane Austen 

    Mansfield Park

    Jane Austen created some of the most memorable bounders, buffoons, and charmers ever to grace the page. Her characters are so immediately recognizable that 200 years later we can still find ourselves cornered at a party by a Miss Bates, faced with one Lydia Bennet after another on our Facebook walls, and hoping that a total Darcy will note the brilliancy of our fine eyes. Here, in ascending order from cads to dreamboats, are the romantic leads (and wannabes) of Austen’s brilliant books:

    15. George Wickham (Pride and Prejudice)
    This sniveling milquetoast is a cad to the bone. Not only did he turn on his benefactors, the Darcy family; gamble away his inheritance; then split for parts unknown after breaking Georgiana Darcy’s heart, he also twisted the story to his benefit, dining out for years on self-pitying tales of his mistreatment at his victims’ hands. He’s happy to destroy a woman’s reputation for revenge or profit, and his pretty face and empty charms just barely mask a vacuum of self-regarding boorishness.

    14. John Willoughby (Sense and Sensibility)
    A cad of a lesser order. This gold-digging gadabout charmed and seduced Marianne Dashwood despite having no intention of marrying her, going so far as to…invite her to his house. Unattended. Despite his rather romantic all-night ride to the Dashwoods, where Marianne’s illness leads him to reveal his shame to a suuuper unimpressed Elinor, his courting of not one but two girls he has no intention of marrying makes him unredeemable.

    13. William Elliott (Persuasion)
    At least this fine fellow would’ve married the girl he was gunning for, had she agreed to it. A handsome estranged cousin of the Miss Elliotts (marvelous Anne, bitchy Elizabeth, and ridiculous Mary), he comes sniffing around the place after his unfortunate first marriage is ended by his wife’s death. He turns out to be a gold digger whose presumptions nearly come between Anne and her meant-to-be (more on him later), but at least he puts Anne’s awful sister Elizabeth in her place while he’s at it.

    12. Henry Crawford (Mansfield Park)
    In trying to pull a She’s All That on Fanny Price, making her fall in love with him for fun, this fickle bad boy finds himself falling in love with her instead. He tries to walk the straight and narrow for her sake, but old habits die hard: just as it seems he’s getting somewhere with Fanny, he promptly elopes with her hot, married cousin. Party foul.

    11. Mr. Collins (Pride and Prejudice)
    Poor Mr. Collins. Above all he wants to do what is proper, and/or approved by his beloved patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh, but he can’t quite get his foot out of his mouth to get started. As the unjust heir-in-waiting to the Bennet family estate, he rightly hopes that marrying a Bennet daughter will be a happy outcome for all involved. Sadly, he forgets to factor in his own unbearable personality. Points for trying to be a good guy, points off for being an obsequious ass who asks Lizzie to temper her “wit and vivacity” with silence.

    10. Philip Elton (Emma)
    Elton isn’t worth spilling much ink. He’s a blithe opportunist who’s willing to whisper a few sweet nothings at a girl with a big dowry, but he lacks the ambitious destructiveness of a Mr. Wickham. He’s see-through enough to be harmless, and even poor, impressionable Harriet gets over him quickly enough.

    9. Frank Churchill (Emma)
    This careless bon vivant is a sort of Willoughby Lite. He toys with Emma to lay a smoke screen over his secret engagement to Jane Fairfax, but it’s likely he chooses her because she seems like a girl who can roll with a bit of misplaced flirtation. (Had he tried the same moves on Harriet, he’d have earned a lower place on this list).

    8. Edmund Bertram (Mansfield Park)
    After his family takes in his destitute, holier-than-thou cousin Fanny Price, Edmund is her sole friend and confidante. But he’s also a trifling doofus, who drops Fanny like a hot potato when the babeish Mary Crawford swans into view. He later realizes the error of his ways and marries Fanny, and you know what? Those wet blankets deserve each other.

    7. Edward Ferrars (Sense and Sensibility)
    After promising himself to the faithless Lucy Steele, the equally faithless Edward forms an attachment with Elinor Dashwood, despite not being free to marry her. Elinor was dealt a crap hand after her father’s death, and the last thing she needs is to be led on by a man who can’t put his (small amount of) money where his mouth is. Sure, he does the honorable by keeping his engagement with Lucy (until she breaks it, leaving him free to marry Elinor), but it’s hard not to see him as a bit of a, well, boring martyr.

    6. Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility)
    Shades of Humbert Humbert: like Nabokov’s protagonist, Brandon falls for the much younger Marianne (16 to his 35) because she reminds him of a then–age appropriate beloved of his youth. However! Brandon’s nevertheless a genuinely good guy, and Regency society was more accepting of these extreme May-December romances. Though the age gap remains problematic for today’s readers, noble Brandon is helped by the fact that everyone’s favorite tortured boyfriend, Alan Rickman, played him in the film adaptation.

    5. George Knightley (Emma)
    This one’s pushing 40 when he marries the sprightly, 20-year-old Emma, but at least she’s legal. He’s a tempering influence to his self-satisfied bride, and willing to live with her insufferable father in order to keep the habit-bound old man from going full-on King Lear in his daughter’s absence. Knightley’s a bit too fatherly for my taste, but Emma doesn’t seem to mind.

    4. Henry Tilney (Northanger Abbey)
    Funny, good-natured, and forgiving, Tilney’s even ready to defy his boorish father’s wishes to marry the woman he…loves? This novel lacks the intense romanticism of Austen’s later works, but that doesn’t mean Henry isn’t a peach. Besides, in the words of Charlotte Lucas: it’s only after a woman is secure in her man’s affections that “there will be more leisure for falling in love as much as she chooses.”

    3. Charles Bingley (Pride and Prejudice)
    This charming, gallant gentleman wouldn’t hurt a fly, but he would let his chilly sisters talk him out of proposing to the woman he loves, in an era when dancing with her all night has already got half the neighborhood writing up the wedding banns. But who doesn’t keep a spot in their heart for Bingley, who’s glad to dance with even the homeliest old maids (we’re talking 27-year-old hags here). He may be suggestible, even a touch weak-willed, but he’s also got a heart of gold. (And if he had a bit more spine, he’d top Mr. Darcy.)

    2. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Pride and Prejudice)
    He’s the Big Kahuna. The White Whale. The Man All Women Want Men to Want to Be. As the most overexposed (or perhaps just exposed?) romantic hero in literature, Darcy’s name has become synonymous with a certain kind of man: the hard exterior coating the sweet, shy core, the “jerk till you get to know him” who has probably inspired countless people to wait out unworthy crush objects, hoping their rudeness is a sign of secret, Darcy-like wonderfulness. I’m far from immune to his appeal (brooding good looks, great family values, nice house, code of honor, 10,000 a year), but snappy, bright Lizzie Bennet may find herself working double time to keep dinner conversation going.

    1. Captain Frederick Wentworth (Persuasion)
    Hot captain alert! One must forgive Wentworth’s initial cruelty to Anne Elliott when they meet again after an eight-year parting—only a man still in love would be so unkind to the woman who jilted him. Though a thoughtless flirtation with Louisa Musgrove throws a crook in the path of his and Anne’s reunion, it’s only a matter of time before he forgives her persuadability and writes her a passionate love letter, putting his neck on the line for a second jilting. But Anne’s no fool (not twice, anyway): she claims her brave, sexy captain while the claiming’s good.

    Who are your favorite cads and dreamboats out of Austen?

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