Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility

4.1 742
by Jane Austen, Julie Christie

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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
"As nearly flawless as any fiction could be."
—Eudora Welty
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."

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Classic, Audio Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.32(w) x 5.44(h) x 1.36(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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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 over marriages, 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.

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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 (Collins Classics) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 742 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Jane Austen¿s Sense and Sensibility, the classic tale of love and its consequences is told through the lives of the young and beautiful Dashwood sisters. Marianne, an imprudent and impulsive young lady, immediately falls in love with the handsome, yet unpredictable Mr. Willoughby, scandalously displaying her affection for him. Elinor, although always reserved and collected, also falls in love, but unlike her sister, keeps her affection for her admirer concealed even from those she dearly loves. Through the opposite characterization of the two main characters, Austen criticizes the folly of not leading a balanced lifestyle, whether it is cold and distant or spontaneous and brash. The novel also depicts the troubles caused by love in a society where wealth and social standing are top priorities. Through a variety of characters ranging from a frantic, gluttonous sister, to a humble and kind colonel, Austen condemns the social institutions of her time that encouraged the priority of wealth and status when forming an opinion of a person. Throughout the novel, readers are hooked, held in suspense as they eagerly await to discover the results of the Dashwoods¿ adventures with love. Humorous, heartbreaking, and humbling, Austen combines lessons of life, love, and society defining Sense and Sensibility as a classic.
Paige2017 More than 1 year ago
I really love all of Jane Austen's books but Sense and Sensibility is one of my favorites! It is an endearing story of two sisters who finally get their true happiness! If only this happened in real life! If you love the book you will also love the DVD made by BBC Video and shown on Masterpiece Theatre.
Guest More than 1 year ago
You can't go wrong with Austen but Sense and Sensibility is not nearly as romantic as Pride and Prejudice.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Bookjunkie40 More than 1 year ago
This is the 2nd book that I have read from the B&N Classic list, but the first Jane Austin book. Some people have told me that her writing style is difficult to read, but I found that I had no problems. It is a classic tale of love and pain. I find it surreal that people fall in love so quickely! Or maybe the book doesn't give an accurate interpretation of the timeline. It is neither hear nor there, I actually enjoyed the first Austin novel and looking forward to the next one on the B&N list. I am curious to find out if all of her novels are about the trials of love or is there a surprise in store for me?!?!? I am a firm believer in the classics always being a perk in any book club, but reality is that I believe this is a wonderful book for a raining day, curl up with a warm blanket and a cup of hot cocoa:) Stay tuned for my next book review from the classic list: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I first started this book, I was a bit confused, but as I read on I fell in love with the time and setting of the novel. You really fall in love with the characters and get a sense of what marriage and especially money meant in that time and how they where related to one another.
AAR More than 1 year ago
SENSE AND SENSIBILITY by Jane Austin is a Historical classic. It is a true classic love story. The Insight Edition has relevant information about England, their customs and Jane Austin's life during the Regency era. It has likable characters, romance, and family. If you enjoy Jane Austin this is a must read. It is one of the all classic books.
JesusButterfly More than 1 year ago
A charming edition to anyone's Austen library, this story contains wit and stimulating plot that leaves you fascinated with the misshaps and joys of Austen's characters. A must-read!
Shannon Visente More than 1 year ago
With so many grammatical errors, it almost seems purposeful in an effort to force readers to buy it! But .99 for her entire works is worth the price. Save yourself the headache and pass this mess by.
rba More than 1 year ago
The text is very badly scanned. There are plenty of typos and errors. Impossible to read. :(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. It illustrates two types of women that are still very prominent in society today. I like the fact that it showed more than one side to everyone's personality. Great rainy day read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was not one of Jane Austen's best works. It was fairly enjoyable, but the other novels were so much better. The story was very slow. The best parts were the last few chapters. I did like how Elinor became more passionate, and Marianne became more sensible. The love story was very good, but hardly worth the tedious pages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so good i cant put it down
SilentMute2 More than 1 year ago
Sense and Sensibility was the first book I was forced to read as a young person. At the time, I hated it. I could not understand what people saw in Jane Austen. I read twenty-two chapters before I quit, and to my mind at the time, NOTHING happened. There were no murders, no life-altering circumstances, nothing dramatic. Jane Austen pretty much depicted the petty squabbles, jealousies, and annoyances of backward people. It wasn't really a romance, and yet the whole story seemed to be supported on the disappointments and triumphs in love of the two major characters. Many years later, I have read it--and managed to finish it. I can't believe that I was able to pick up and appreciate the social commentary that I failed to appreciate as a teenager. Though I think Pride and Prejudice is better, Sense and Sensibility has its merits. The characters are well-developed, and some are sympathetic--like Colonel Brandon. However, I do think this is a book that requires a person to reach a certain stage in their life where they can appreciate "people watching." It probably helps if the characters remind you of people that you know or situations you have experienced. Having been disappointed in love myself, I was able to relate to Marianne more than I could as an inexperienced teenager. Of course, sometimes knowing people who remind you of the characters can be a drawback if you really hate the people. However, I would say it is a definite MUST, to appreciate Jane Austen, that you be content with a book that deals with social commentary and doesn't require action or dramatic events. If you need a helicopter crash, an explosion, or someone being brutally murdered to get you through a book...then Jane Austen is definitely not for you.
Aaron Cox More than 1 year ago
This book was very poorly transfered into a text format. It makes teading extremely dificult.
iloverochester More than 1 year ago
Sense and Sensibility was written superbly well. The story is rich in details and surprises. Its dramatic, exciting, and most of all hopeful. The characters have real meaning and integrity. This book is for the hopeless romantic. My favorite of the Jane Austen novels. I would highly recommend this read for book clubs because there are many conflicts and twists that make great discussions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel was fantastic. Jane Austen is an amazing author, and this is a great book! Everyone should read it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great story, great audiobook. Kate Winselt did a tremendous reading. Gets better everytime I listen to it.
Anonymous 8 months ago
|S•he walked in with a creepy grin.
Anonymous 8 months ago
The ghost hides within a painting. The paintings eyes follow anyone who passes it.
Anonymous 8 months ago
I walk in, looking around.
Anonymous 8 months ago
The stone cat sat there staring at nothing.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Walks in
Anonymous 8 months ago
Its going to be here