08/08/2003

Sense and Sensibility (by Jane Austen)

I like re-reading Jane Austen's books occasionally. I read them first in my teenage years, and enjoyed them greatly. The language is old-fashioned, of course, but then Austen died in 1817. The themes are surprisingly up-to-date, and the characters very cleverly drawn. There's also a great deal of subtle ironic humour.

'Sense and Sensibility' is the story of two sisters. Elinor is quiet and sensible, rarely expressing her emotions, while Marianne is much more effusive: talkative, volatile, and easily hurt.

Both fall in love, and both experience hurt from the men they would like to marry.

Eventually 'sense' (in this instance) is shown to lead to greater happiness than 'sensibility'(ie emotionalism). But it's done without preaching or too much moralising, and works well.

There's rather a lot of detail, in the style of the times, some of which I found myself skimming as I read the book this time, but there's also some very dry humour which I enjoyed, and delightful irony that exposes some of the worst traits of the caricatured minor characters.

Still in print, in several editions, in both the USA and UK. Recommended. If you don't enjoy the flowery language of Austen's writing, you might still enjoy the film version of Sense And Sensibility [1996], which I thought was excellent, or the Complete BBC Series [2008]. (Note that both those links lead to the UK versions)

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