Sense and Sensibility (Oxford World's Classics) Mass Market Paperback – 11 Mar 2004
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Though not the first novel she wrote, Sense and Sensibility was the first Jane Austen published. Though she initially called it Elinor and Marianne, Austen jettisoned both the title and the epistolary mode in which it was originally written, but kept the essential theme: the necessity of finding a workable middle ground between passion and reason. The story revolves around the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne. Whereas the former is a sensible, rational creature, her younger sister is wildly romantic--a characteristic that offers Austen plenty of scope for both satire and compassion. Commenting on Edward Ferrars, a potential suitor for Elinor's hand, Marianne admits that while she "loves him tenderly", she finds him disappointing as a possible lover for her sister:
Oh! Mama, how spiritless, how tame was Edward's manner in reading to us last night! I felt for my sister most severely. Yet she bore it with so much composure, she seemed scarcely to notice it. I could hardly keep my seat. To hear those beautiful lines which have frequently almost driven me wild, pronounced with such impenetrable calmness, such dreadful indifference!Soon, however, Marianne meets a man who measures up to her ideal: Mr Willoughby, a new neighbour. So swept away by passion is Marianne that her behaviour begins to border on the scandalous. Then Willoughby abandons her; meanwhile, Elinor's growing affection for Edward suffers a check when he admits he is secretly engaged to a childhood sweetheart. misfortunes and the lessons they draw before coming finally to the requisite happy ending forms the heart of the novel. Though Marianne's disregard for social conventions and willingness to consider the world well-lost for love may appeal to modern readers, it is Elinor whom Austen herself most evidently admired; a truly happy marriage, she shows us, exists only where sense and sensibility meet and mix in proper measure. --Alix Wilber, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"As nearly flawless as any fiction could be." --Eudora Welty --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I have just reread "Sense and Sensibility" and have once again marvelled at the absolute masterliness of Jane Austen's depiction of human feelings, hesitations and dilemmas. Young ladies in 2005 may not make their emotional choices in the same way as Elinor and Marianne Dashwood had to do two hundred years ago, but few contemporary writers show the complexity of emotional relationships with the same precision and insight as Jane Austen. Then as now, the most irresistible men on the surface turn out, like Willougby, to be the most unsuitable ones when you get to know them (and that doesn't make them any less irresistible...); then as now, parents (Mrs Frears) tend to be domineering and unbearable, and yet a part of the equation to be reckoned with; then as now, it may be a good idea to realise that people are very often less predictable than they at first seemed...
But then - and very often not now... - there was the way Jane Austen plotted it all out and honed her sentences like chisels, so that the novel begs to be read aloud.
As of course it would have been once. For those who never have, time to switch off the TV and launch into Jane Austen. Start with this one; take sides with Marianne and with Elinor, marvel at how comic characters like jovial Mrs Jennings and bimbo-ish, semi-literate Lucy Steele remind you of people still very much at large today. Then treat yourself to the even more wonderful "Pride and Prejudice". And then all the others. And bemoan the fact there are only six of them (plus a couple of bits...) And then start all over again.
It is superbly read by Ms Stevenson (as in her reading of "Persuasion") - once more every word and inflection counts. The characters - well or less ably drawn - live. Miss Austen's often stringent wit comes through repeatedly, as does her understanding of her gender. I can't think of a better way to make a series of long car journeys a delightful prospect!
Elinor and Marianne are good examples of how two sisters can be completely different in character and temperament. Elinor is the sensible cautious sister and Marianne the romantic and sensitive one who delights in wild landscapes and feeling heartbroken or elated. I always love the way both sisters deal with adversity. Elinor seeks to keep her feelings to herself and to find occupations to take her mind of what has happened; Marianne wallows in disappointment and doesn't try to overcome her feelings. There are parallels to be drawn here with modern society which encourages people to let their feelings all `hang out' and with say the 1950s where there was more emphasis on duty, putting others first and dealing with your own disappointments.
As ever Jane Austen's dialogue and descriptions delight the reader. There are comic and serious characters; the good natured Mrs Jennings and the unpleasant Mrs Ferrars; the reliable and thoughtful Colonel Brandon and the completely unreliable John Willoughby. While not the most popular of Austen's novels it is still very readable and a delight to anyone who loves her work.
There were several aspects of this novel which really represented the time it was written in; marriage and life expectancy. Otherwise this is a timeless story, filled with witty observations and characters you may recognise from your own life.
Marriage was a huge pre-occupation for women in Austen times, it determined everything about their lives. It wasn't just about who they married, it affected what their lifestyle would be, who they would socialise with, who their children could marry. Marrying for money was preferred (mostly by the brides) but everyone else involved didn't think it mattered, much better to marry someone rich who you could grow to tolerate than marry for love and be poor.
Life expectancy also changes everything. At several points in the novel references were made to how long someone could expect to live. Mrs Dashwood (40) was only expected to live another 7 years or so, Colonel Brandon was thought extremely old at 35 to be looking for love, Marianne at 17 was already hoping she wouldn't end up as the maiden aunt. The average life expectancy in 1811 was 36, this includes the working class (80% of the population) so I would expect the middle and upper classes to last a little longer. So the pressure was on to marry and have children as early as possible with a hope of seeing your grandchildren before you're 40.
If you're new to Jane Austen or are intimidated by older novels, my advice is just to dive in.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I came to the novel as most people do, via her better known books - Pride and Prejudice and Emma. Sense and Sensibility, while a pleasant read, didn't hold my interest in the way... Read morePublished 1 month ago by katie
I do like the book, but I feel that the end is very rushed. It seems like Jane Austen realized she didn't have much paper left, and had to get it done with. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Outstanding abridged reading of this beautifully observed novel. I listened to this over and over again, and always found something new to enjoy in the dialogue. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Charlotte