Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen

It would be pointless and overweening for me to “review” Sense and Sensibility, a book many of you probably read long ago, and one which has been well appreciated by far more discerning readers than me. So let’s just call this a reader’s report.

I read Pride and Prejudice quite a few years back, and promised myself I’d return to Jane Austen again. The delay of more than a decade is probably best explained by the fact that Austen is a fair amount of work. To take one example of words that have changed in meaning since the early 1800s, in Austen the word “address” means the way you present yourself when conversing with other people. The notation on the outside of a letter, telling the postman where to deliver it, is called the “direction.” I have a pretty good vocabulary and can work my way through, but I’ll admit I had to go over a few of the sentences more than once, not only because of word choice, but because the diction could get pretty convoluted.

But the book rewarded the work. There were a number of very funny lines, delivered in a charming dry manner, scattered among the verbiage. I’d share one or two, but I returned the book to the library this afternoon when I’d finished it.

What particularly delighted me in Sense and Sensibility was the sweet reason of the whole thing. In utter contradiction to what a guy expects in a love story written by a woman, the most sympathetic character is the most circumspect one; a woman whose feelings are so well concealed that I wasn’t sure until the end which male character to root for her to marry. The author, apparently, approves of this. Marriages should be well thought out, and entered into with a due consideration of prudential matters like social class, education, good taste and income. And love, of course, but don’t get carried away.

I totally approve.

4 thoughts on “Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen”

  1. When you’re ready for another Austen novel, you might want to try either Emma or Mansfield Park. I would rate P&P and Emma as the best ones for an introduction to Austen because they have that dry humor with a moral basis and engaging characters (Emma’s father is a hoot). Mansfield Park is kind of a minority favorite for Austen readers. here she set herself to write about a heroine who was not attractive, witty, or rich, but was a person of integrity surrounded by people who were attractive, witty, rich, but not perhaps persons of integrity. I’d like to revisit that one.

  2. Hmmmm…. interesting this Austin posting came on when it did. My wife was just given a DVD of, “Pride and Prejudice”. We watched it last night. It was quite good. I was surprised. A bit slow. But it was like observing a culture I’d not been familiar with prior. I’m glad to have seen it. I plan on getting a few other Austins to view.

    I’d never read her before at any stage of my life. She was always one of those authors I wanted to expose myself to, but always had an excuse not to.

    Now, I will be the first to admit, a DVD/movie is NOT Jane Austin. But, it has given me a goal to knock down phony reasons not to actually read an Austin book now.

    So, Jane is in my future. I shall read her the first chance I get. Thank you all for your insights and comments.

  3. Lars,

    I didn’t know the best way to contact you, so I’m just hoping you see this comment.

    I am one of the new authors for Nordskog. My novel, Jungle Sunrise, will be either the 2nd or 3rd Noble Novel to be published. It is available for pre-order now and should be out by the first week of March.

    I was wondering if you would consider writing a book review for brandywinebooks.net I know you have a lot going on, but if you think you might have time, I’d love to send you either an electronic copy now and/or an actual book once I receive them from the printer. My e-mail is perumission@hotmail.com

    Thank you! -Jonathan Williams

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