Sense and Sensibility / Edition 1

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Overview

One of Jane Austen's most beloved novels, brought to life in a sparkling dramatization!

When Mr. Dashwood dies, he must leave the bulk of his estate to the son by his first marriage, which leaves his second wife and three daughters (Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret) in straitened circumstances. They are taken in by a kindly cousin, but their lack of fortune affects the marriageability of both practical Elinor and romantic Marianne. When Elinor forms an attachment for the wealthy Edward Ferrars, his family disapproves and separates them. And though Mrs. Jennings tries to match the worthy (and rich) Colonel Brandon to her, Marianne finds the dashing and fiery Willoughby more to her taste. Both relationships are sorely tried. But this is a romance, and through the hardships and heartbreak, true love and a happy ending will find their way for both the sister who is all sense and the one who is all sensibility.

The Dashwood sisters are very different from each other in appearance and temperament; Elinor's good sense and readiness to observe social forms contrast with Marianne's impulsive candor and warm but excessive sensibility. Both struggle to maintain their integrity and find happiness in the face of a competitive marriage market.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"As nearly flawless as any fiction could be."
Deidre Lynch SUNY at Buffalo
"The complexity and courage of Sense and Sensibility get their due in this wonderful new edition, which features an illuminating and sometimes surprising selection of contextual materials. Kathleen James-Cavan's introduction provides a readable, trenchant account of the characteristically bold ways in which Austen went public as a woman novelist and negotiated the power of literary precedent."
From Barnes & Noble
This first of Jane Austen's published novels is the story of two starkly different English sisters: Elinor Dashwood, the epitome of prudence & self-control, and her younger, more impetuous sister Marianne, who embodies emotion, openness, & sheer enthusiasm.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393977516
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Series: Norton Critical Editions Series
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 176,435
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Austen (1775–1817) was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature.

Claudia L. Johnson is Professor of English at Princeton University. She is the author of Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel and Equivocal Beings: Politics, Gender, and Sentimentality in the 1790s, editor of the Mansfield Park Norton Critical Edition, and author of many articles on eighteenth-and nineteenth-century literature.

Biography

In 1801, George Austen retired from the clergy, and Jane, Cassandra, and their parents took up residence in Bath, a fashionable town Jane liked far less than her native village. Jane seems to have written little during this period. When Mr. Austen died in 1805, the three women, Mrs. Austen and her daughters, moved first to Southampton and then, partly subsidized by Jane's brothers, occupied a house in Chawton, a village not unlike Jane's first home. There she began to work on writing and pursued publishing once more, leading to the anonymous publication of Sense and Sensibility in 1811 and Pride and Prejudice in 1813, to modestly good reviews.

Known for her cheerful, modest, and witty character, Jane Austen had a busy family and social life, but as far as we know very little direct romantic experience. There were early flirtations, a quickly retracted agreement to marry the wealthy brother of a friend, and a rumored short-lived attachment -- while she was traveling -- that has not been verified. Her last years were quiet and devoted to family, friends, and writing her final novels. In 1817 she had to interrupt work on her last and unfinished novel, Sanditon, because she fell ill. She died on July 18, 1817, in Winchester, where she had been taken for medical treatment. After her death, her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published, together with a biographical notice, due to the efforts of her brother Henry. Austen is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

Author biography courtesy of Barnes & Noble Books.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      December 16, 1775
    2. Place of Birth:
      Village of Steventon in Hampshire, England
    1. Date of Death:
      July 18, 1817
    2. Place of Death:
      Winchester, Hampshire, England
    1. Education:
      Taught at home by her father

Read an Excerpt

Sense and Sensibility


By Jane Austen

Vintage

Copyright © 2007 Jane Austen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780307386878

Sense and Sensibility, the first of those metaphorical bits of "ivory" on which Jane Austen said she worked with "so fine a brush," jackhammers away at the idea that to conjecture is a vain and hopeless reflex of the mind. But I'll venture this much: If she'd done nothing else, we'd still be in awe of her. Wuthering Heights alone put Emily Brontë in the pantheon, and her sister Charlotte and their older contemporary Mary Shelley might as well have saved themselves the trouble of writing anything but Jane Eyre and Frankenstein. Sense and Sensibility, published in 1811, is at least as mighty a work as any of these, and smarter than all three put together. And it would surely impress us even more without Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1815) towering just up ahead. Austen wrote its ur-version, Elinor and Marianne, when she was nineteen, a year before First Impressions, which became Pride and Prejudice; she reconceived it as Sense and Sensibility when she was twenty-two, and she was thirty-six when it finally appeared. Like most first novels, it lays out what will be its author's lasting preoccupations: the "three or four families in a country village" (which Austen told her niece, in an often-quoted letter, was "the very thing to work on"). The interlocking anxieties overmarriages, estates, and ecclesiastical "livings." The secrets, deceptions, and self-deceptions that take several hundred pages to straighten out-to the extent that they get straightened out. The radical skepticism about human knowledge, human communication, and human possibility that informs almost every scene right up to the sort-of-happy ending. And the distinctive characters-the negligent or overindulgent parents, the bifurcating siblings (smart sister, beautiful sister; serious brother, coxcomb brother), the charming, corrupted young libertines. Unlike most first novels, though, Sense and Sensibility doesn't need our indulgence. It's good to go.

In the novels to come, Elinor Dashwood will morph into Anne Elliott and Elizabeth Bennet (who will morph into Emma Woodhouse); Edward Ferrars into Edmund Bertram, Mr. Knightley, Henry Tilney, and Captain Wentworth; Willoughby into George Wickham and Henry Crawford. But the characters in Sense and Sensibility stand convincingly on their own, every bit as memorable as their later avatars. If Austen doesn't have quite the Caliban-to-Ariel range of a Shakespeare, she can still conjure up and sympathize with both Mrs. Jennings-the "rather vulgar" busybody with a borderline-unwholesome interest in young people's love lives, fits of refreshing horse sense, and a ruggedly good heart-and Marianne Dashwood, a wittily observed case study in Romanticism, a compassionately observed case study in sublimated adolescent sexuality, and a humorously observed case study in humorlessness. "I should hardly call her a lively girl," Elinor observes to Edward, "-she is very earnest, very eager in all she does-sometimes talks a great deal and always with animation-but she is not often really merry." Humorlessness, in fact, may be the one thing Marianne and her eventual lifemate, Colonel Brandon, have in common. (Sorry to give that plot point away; it won't be the last one, either. So, fair warning.) The minor characters have the sort of eidetic specificity you associate with Dickens: from the gruesomely mismatched Mr. and Mrs. Palmer to Robert Ferrars, splendidly impenetrable in his microcephalic self-complacency. The major characters, on the other hand, refuse to stay narrowly "in character"; they're always recognizably themselves, yet they seem as many-sided and changeable as people out in the nonfictional world.

Elinor makes as ambivalent a heroine as Mansfield Park's notoriously hard-to-warm-up-to Fanny Price. She's affectionately protective of her sister Marianne yet overfond of zinging her: "It is not every one who has your passion for dead leaves." She's bemused at Marianne's self-dramatizing, yet she's as smug about suffering in silence as Marianne (who "would have thought herself very inexcusable" if she were able to sleep after Willoughby leaves Devonshire) is proud of suffering in Surround Sound. She can be treacherously clever, as when Lucy Steele speculates (correctly) that she may have offended Elinor by staking her claim to Edward: " 'Offended me! How could you suppose so? Believe me,' and Elinor spoke it with the truest sincerity, 'nothing could be farther from my intention, than to give you such an idea.' " Yet she can also be ponderously preachy: "One observation may, I think, be fairly drawn from the whole of the story-that all Willoughby's difficulties, have arisen from the first offense against virtue, in his behaviour to Eliza Williams. That crime has been the origin of every lesser one, and of all his present discontents." (In the rest of Austen, only the intentionally preposterous Mary in Pride and Prejudice strikes just this note: "Unhappy as the event may be for Lydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson; that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable . . ."). Is Elinor simply an intelligent young woman overtaxed by having to be the grown-up of the family? Or is she an unconsciously rivalrous sibling, sick of hearing that her younger, more beautiful sister will marry more advantageously? Or both? Or what? It's not that Austen doesn't have a clear conception of her-it's that she doesn't have a simple conception. Elinor is the character you know the most about, since Austen tells most of the story from her point of view, and consequently she's the one you're least able to nail with a couple of adjectives or a single defining moment.

Edward bothers us, too. He's a dreamboat only for a woman of Elinor's limited expectations: independent-minded yet passive and depressive, forthright and honorable yet engaged in a book-long cover-up. (It's a tour de force on Austen's part to present a character so burdened with a secret that we see his natural behavior only long after we've gotten used to him.) At his strongest and most appealing-to Elinor, at least-he's a clear-your-mind-of-cant kind of guy: "I am not fond of nettles, or thistles, or heath blossoms. . . . A troop of tidy, happy villagers please me better than the finest banditti in the world." But he can also be a Hamlet-like whiner, complaining about his own idleness and vowing that his sons will be brought up "to be as unlike myself as possible. In feeling, in action, in condition, in every thing." For my money, Edward is the least likable of Austen's heroes, while his opposite number, Willoughby, is the most sympathetic of her libertines: smarter than Pride and Prejudice's Wickham (a loser who gets stuck with the "noisy" and virtually portionless Lydia Bennet) and more warmhearted than Mansfield Park's textbook narcissist Henry Crawford. Willoughby may strike trendy Wordsworthian poses with his effusions on cottages ("I consider it as the only form of building in which happiness is attainable"), but at least he has enough sense to abhor his own callowness, and enough sexy boldness to discompose even the rational Elinor. "She felt that his influence over her mind was heightened by circumstances which ought not in reason to have weight; by that person of uncommon attraction, that open, affectionate, and lively manner which it was no merit to possess . . ." His opening line when he at last explains to her what he's been up to ("Tell me honestly, do you think me most a knave or a fool?") is one of those Byronic flourishes that make him the person in Sense and Sensibility you'd most want to dine with and least want to trust.

Continues...

Excerpted from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen Copyright © 2007 by Jane Austen. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents

Introduction vii
Chronology xii
Sense and Sensibility 1
About the Editor 373
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Reading Group Guide

1. Sense and Sensibility begins with a short history of Norland Park, the Dashwood family's estate. We learn that the late owner has bequeathed the property to his nephew, Henry Dashwood, since he himself was unmarried and without children. Describe Henry Dashwood's family. Who are its members? What is the dilemma that Henry's wife and daughters encounter upon his death?

2. The novel tells the story of two sisters who at first appear to be more different than similar. Elinor, the older sister, is governed by her good sense, whereas Marianne, the younger and less experienced sister, is ruled by a romantic sensibility. Compare the personalities of the two sisters further. To what do you attribute these differences? Are their personalities fixed, or do they change over the course of the novel?

3. In Chapter 13, Elinor is shocked to learn that Marianne allowed Willoughby to show her his house without a chaperon. Marianne defends her action by saying, "If there had been any real impropriety in what I did, I should have been sensible of it at the time, for we always know when we are acting wrong." Is this a valid defense? Does the novel, in the end, support or reject Marianne's notion of propriety?

4. Claire Tomalin has argued that Sense and Sensibility acts out a debate about behavior, in which Elinor represents discretion and privacy and Marianne represents emotional openness. Which side do you think wins this debate? Do you think the novel's attempts to resolve this debate are successful? Why or why not?

5. Over the course of the novel, both Elinor and Marianne experience romantic reversals: Elinor when she discovers Edward Ferrarsis engaged to Lucy Steele, and Marianne when she discovers Willoughby is to marry Miss Grey. What do these experiences teach Elinor and Marianne? Compare the reactions of each.

6. Sense and Sensibility presents a host of memorable minor characters, such as Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Ferrars, and Mrs. John Dashwood. Discuss the role minor characters play in the novel. What issues or ideas do they help illuminate for the protagonists?

7. In Chapter 17, Elinor says the following with regard to the notion of character: "I have frequently detected myself in such kind of mistakes . . . in a total misapprehension of character in some points or other; fancying other people so much more gay or grave, or ingenious or stupid than they really are, and I can hardly tell why, or in what the deception originated. Sometimes one is guided by what they say of themselves, and very frequently by what others say of them, without giving oneself time to deliberate and judge." Discuss the theme of character in Sense and Sensibility. What does Elinor mean when she uses the word "character"? What, according to her, are good and bad judges of character? Does she follow her own advice? Which sort of character does the novel value?

8. Discuss the character of Lucy Steele. How would you describe her? What does she risk in telling Elinor of her engagement to Edward Ferrars? Does this seem shrewd or foolish to you?

9. At several points in the story, the characters discuss the value of "second attachments." For instance, in Chapter 17, Marianne makes plain that she does not believe a person can be in love more than once in his or her life. She says further, "At my time of life, opinions are tolerably fixed. It is not likely that I should see or hear anything to change them." Discuss the irony implicit in Marianne's statement. Does the novel itself share her views? Which characters come to have second attachments?

10. Discuss the character of Willoughby. How is he punished for his decision to marry for money, in a way that someone like Lucy Steele is not? Why might this be the case?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 324 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 26, 2011

    Typos galore.

    I just read a few pages and the typos are terrible. You have to fill in and guess what words they are trying to say. There is a reason it is free.

    13 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2010

    Love the Story...

    ...but not the free Google version...the problem with just scanning and relying on software to "error" check, is that it makes new and different mistakes. It's gotten to the point that I'm going to delete my free version and spend some money on a different copy.

    7 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2011

    Bad copy

    This is a bad copy of a good book.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2006

    very interesting novel, a great read

    This book was extrememly interesting. I enjoyed the clever love triangles occuring thoughout the book. Jane Austen is a wonderful writer who has a talent of creating complex characters, with very real emotions and problems. The reader is able to relate with the Dashwood girls as they struggle with unrequited love. The reader is never bored with the captivating lives of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 9, 2011

    Bad!!!!

    Its spaces out hard to read many typos and symbols in RANDOM places its bad!

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2012

    Absolutely horrid!

    Could not read. Incomplete words, extraneous characters, special characters. Not worth being free. Someone would have to pay me to keep this.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 17, 2011

    So many typographical errors on every page! Not worth trying to get through. Seriously - not even worth it for free.

    I would give it a rating of negative 5 if I could. I' m sure there must be a well transferred version out there, but this is not it. Horrific typos are so prevalent that it was difficult to even determine what some words were supposed to be. Even multiple pages that had half of the manuscript replaced by symbols rather than words. It may be a good classic novel if it were readable.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2012

    good book

    I'm a fan of Jane's books, this is my second favorite. Only reason I gave it four stars is because there seems to be something lacking that I can't quite put my finger on it though.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2000

    An average book, not one of Austen's best

    I read Sense and Sensibility as a follow up to Pride and Prejudice, and honestly, I was disappointed. The plot of the story was predictable, although it might have intended to be surprising. I felt quite indifferent to the characters, and the whole book kind of dragged. On the average level, this books is readable, but not spectacular like Pride and Prejudice. So if you are planning to read this as a follow-up to Pride and Prejudice, my advice is don't. Instead, read Mansfield Park (also by Austen), which is ten times better, at least in my opionon.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    Pretty good

    My only complaint is that the pages numbers will not match the ones in the paper version. I know it sounds petty, but that is a pain when dealing with page to page assignments.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

    Favorite Austen!

    Sense and Sensibility is my favorite novel by Jane, if not my favorite novel period. The characters are charmimg and delightful!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Love

    Thank you to Jim Hart at Bethany House for providing my copy of this classic. I couldn't help but wonder how the classic might have been improved.Historical and cultural details and definitions from England's early 1800s, facts about Austen's life that enhance the storyline, as well as many other notations, conveniently interspersed along the side margins make this an easy-to-use tutorial.I suggest that Homeschoolers, students of all ages and stages would benefit by the read or rereading. As a retired high school English teacher, I would chose this edition to teach.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2000

    A book to be read over again!

    After my first reading of this beautifully written romance, I found myself intrigued by Austen's ability to create characters and situations that draw me in and hold me close. I now find myself looking for more novels by her that I have to read. I want find out if these other novels are as captivating and emotional as Sense and Sensibility. I highly recommend this and all other Jane Austen books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2014

    Bad scan

    Poor copy

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2013

    Very good!!!!!!

    This is the first book I've ever read by Jane Austen. I think she is a very good author. I think this book is very good, so don't listen to the people who say it's bad or not worth reading. I'm beautiful and smart so take my advice and read this book!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2013

    good

    check it out

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2013

    Is this book hard to get through?

    This seems like a long book and i dont know how jane austen writes. Is it really hard to read and understand?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2013

    Ivwould say it was okay

    It was okay

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2013

    I ...

    ...love it! Jane austen is my moms favorite author so I decided I should give it a try. I loved the 2h movie.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2013

    Not her best

    I love Jane Austen as much as the next person, but I was bored stiff in this book, much to my disappointment. I found it hard to feel connected to the characters, and it was just plain dull.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 324 Customer Reviews

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