Sense and Sensibility (Talking Classics)
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Moving and magnificent
While the various cinema and television dramatisations of her books have deservedly contributed to making Jane Austen known and loved beyond the study of her writing in the classroom, it would be a shame to settle for the adaptations and never read those exquisitely written novels.
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...
Description : 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