Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility

3.9 329
by Jane Austen

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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

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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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[Sense and Sensibility] is a subtler and a more searching novel than [its critics’] blunt instruments of perception have been capable of registering, because it deals not with the categories of romantic philosophy but with the transformation of those categories into ways of feeling and behaving. It explores the unsettling romantic alteration of the internal life.” –from the Introduction by Peter Conrad
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."

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Sense and Sensibility

By Jane Austen


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.


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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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"As nearly flawless as any fiction could be."
Eudora Welty
"How could these novels ever seem remote?...The gayety is unextinguished to today, the irony has kept its bite, the reasoning is still sweet, the sparkle undiminished....As comedies they are irristable and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be."

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Sense and Sensibility (Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 329 reviews.
Cindy Meacham More than 1 year ago
This is a bad copy of a good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
GottaRead53 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
...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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this was a good book to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You can't even read this. It has special characters splashed throughout the regular text, and is absolutely impossible to read. :(
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littlegiry More than 1 year ago
An absolutely beautiful edition of Austen's classic, the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility is a delightful novel, but this edition has mangled her classic, rendering it almost illegible. Stray symbols and letters make it nearly impossible to read. Please seek out another edition for your reading pleasure, as this particular eBook offers no benefits. Though the story is not to be missed, you would do well to find a different copy of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this story. It keeps you guessing as to who will marry whom and if a characters flaws or assets will be found. I recommend it as a classic book that you can go to for a look back at the past.
Gypsydiana More than 1 year ago
I always enjoy sitting down and reading a Jane Austin book. I have read and re-read Sense and Sensibility many times through the years. I am excited to now have this book on my Nook and available to me with the push of a button. Jane Austin fans will understand this. If you haven't read this book ,you are missing a trip into a young woman's look of love in years gone by.
tafoot1 More than 1 year ago
Jane Austen only gifted us with a few books, but they are all stellar. Each should be required reading for anyone who who aspires to be or says he is a well-educated person. Sense and Sensibility shows the reader what life was like during Austen's time. The manners of the time, the role of inheritance (or lack thereof), inter- and intra-family relationships...all are so intricate and important for the time. Dive in, enjoy the characters, enjoy the slower'll be glad you did.
FanAR More than 1 year ago
I LOVE this book, read many times. Great book!
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