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Sense and Sensibility: An Annotated Edition

Overview

Sense and Sensibility (1811) marked the auspicious debut of a novelist identified only as "A Lady." Jane Austen's name has since become as familiar as Shakespeare's, and her tale of two sisters has lost none of its power to delight. Patricia Meyer Spacks guides readers to a deeper appreciation of the richness of Austen's delineation of her heroines, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, as they experience love, romance, and heartbreak. On display again in the editor's running commentary are the wit and light touch that ...

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Overview

Sense and Sensibility (1811) marked the auspicious debut of a novelist identified only as "A Lady." Jane Austen's name has since become as familiar as Shakespeare's, and her tale of two sisters has lost none of its power to delight. Patricia Meyer Spacks guides readers to a deeper appreciation of the richness of Austen's delineation of her heroines, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, as they experience love, romance, and heartbreak. On display again in the editor's running commentary are the wit and light touch that delighted readers of Spacks's Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition.

In her notes, Spacks elucidates language and allusions that have become obscure (What are Nabobs? When is rent day?), draws comparisons to Austen's other work and to that of her precursors, and gives an idea of how other critics have seen the novel. In her introduction and annotations, she explores Austen's sympathy with both Elinor and Marianne, the degree to which the sisters share "sense" and "sensibility," and how they must learn from each other. Both manage to achieve security and a degree of happiness by the novel's end. Austen's romance, however, reveals darker overtones, and Spacks does not leave unexamined the issue of the social and psychological restrictions of women in Austen's era.

As with other volumes in Harvard's series of Austen novels, Sense and Sensibility: An Annotated Edition comes handsomely illustrated with numerous color reproductions that vividly recreate Austen's world. This will be an especially welcome addition to the library of any Janeite.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

"A Lady" was the only title page identification its original publishers gave the author of Sense and Sensibility, but since 1811 Jane Austen's debut novel has rightly gained recognition as a literary masterpiece and a central gospel in the "Janeite" canon. Patricia Meyer Spacks' expertly annotated edition reminds us that even "timeless classics" exist in time and benefit from relevant introductions, commentary, and historical notes. As in her annotated edition of Pride and Prejudice, Spacks' thoughtful readings and carefully selected illustrations restore the full luster of a most beloved work.

Deidre Lynch
With wit and wonderful attention to subtleties, and to often moving effect, Spacks guides the reader to a wider appreciation of this early Austen novel.
PopMatters - Subashini Navaratnam
[Spacks] is particularly astute at contextualizing 19th century thought and ideas for a contemporary audience…For people returning to the novel, Spacks’ notes are quite illuminating, mostly serious, but occasionally fun…Spacks’ introduction and annotations indicate a person who has spent a considerable amount of time with the Dashwoods and their assorted friends and foes. This handsome edition is all the richer for it.
Austenprose.com - Kathleen Elder
The illustrations, literary commentary and definitions should be useful and interesting to any student of Jane Austen’s novels.
Jane Austen’s Regency World - Joceline Bury
Harvard’s series of annotated Jane Austen works continues with this superb edition of Sense and Sensibility. What a boon to the student of Austen…Sense and Sensibility is my favorite Austen novel: this edition increased my enjoyment and understanding many times over.
Christian Science Monitor
If you haven’t yet seen the Harvard University Press’s annotated Jane Austen series, prepare yourself for a major treat. This year Sense and Sensibility joins the other novels—Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma, and [forthcoming in spring 2014] Northanger Abbey… The books are gorgeous. Notes and commentary in the broad margins enlighten and enrich the text and offer historic context without interfering with the narrative flow. Illustrations are plentiful and include everything from an old engraving of the Theatre Royal in London’s Drury Lane to a still from the Hugh Grant–Emma Thompson film version of the novel. Jane Austen lovers worldwide will cherish these books.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune - Laurie Hertzel
This series of annotated, illustrated classics from Harvard Press has become a lovely annual tradition. Over the years, the press has published annotated editions of The Wind in the Willows [and] The Picture of Dorian Gray (both annotated and uncensored!), and many others. Each one has been carefully and beautifully edited. The editors know what we like, though, and they have done more Jane Austen than they have anyone else; Sense and Sensibility: An Annotated Edition is the press’ fifth Austen book and is a worthy addition. It’s gorgeous to look at, with moire endpapers, illustrations from various editions of the book (as well as photographs of objects of the time, and paintings of contemporary well‐known people), and, of course, the intelligent and abundant annotations, by scholar Patricia Meyer Spacks.
Sydney Morning Herald - Anna Creer
This annotated edition of Sense and Sensibility is a beautiful book, printed on acid-free, cream vellum paper with generous margins and woven bindings. It is an intelligent and enlightening literary companion, and an essential addition to any serious collection of Jane Austen’s works.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674724556
  • Publisher: Harvard
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Edition description: Annotated
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 161,153
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Meyer Spacks is Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English, Emerita, at the University of Virginia.

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

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