Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sense and Sensibility (Novel). Jane Austen.

Oxford, new York: Oxford University Press. 1811.

Why read it? Because Jane Austen writes excellent character sketches, conveys a vivid sense of the life in her social circle and has a wry sense of humor that will keep you chuckling—not laughing, but chuckling. In this contrast of personalities, Elinor represents sense. Marianne represents an intense emotional enthusiasm for everything she encounters.

Marianne can’t help criticizing everything. In the following quotes, she is especially hard on poor, old, decrepit Col. Brandon. Guess whom she ends up marrying?

Sample quotes:

“She [Elinor] had an excellent heart; Her disposition was affectionate, and her feelings were strong; but she knew how to govern them; it was a knowledge which her mother had yet to learn, and which one of her sisters had resolved never to be taught.” p. 6. ………. “Marianne…was sensible and clever; but eager in everything; her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation….” p. 6. ………. Marianne on Edward’s reading: “…how spiritless, how tame was Edward’s manner in reading to us last night. To hear those beautiful lines which have frequently almost driven me wild, pronounced with such impenetrable calmness, such dreadful indifference…. If he is not to be animated by Cowper…. To hear him read with so little sensibility.” p. 17. [Without TV, people in Jane Austen’s day read aloud to provide entertainment to the family. Marianne, obviously, does not like Edward’s manner of reading. RayS.]

“She [Elinor] knew that what Marianne and her mother conjectured one moment, they believed the next—that with them, to wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect.” p. 21. ……….

“…Lady Middleton had taken the wise precaution of bringing with her their eldest child, a fine little boy about six years old, by which means there was one subject always to be recurred to by the ladies in case of extremity, for they had to inquire his name and age, admire his beauty, and ask questions which his mother answered for him, while he hung about her and held down his head, to the great surprise of her ladyship, who wondered at his being so shy before company as he could make noise enough at home…took up to ten minutes to determine whether the boy were most like his father or mother, and in what particular he resembled either.” p. 31.

“Mrs. Jennings was a widow…had only two daughters, both of whom she had lived to see respectably marred, and she had now therefore nothing to do but to marry all the rest of the world. Promotion of this object she was zealously active. Missed no opportunity of projecting weddings among all the young people of her acquaintance. Was remarkably quick in the discovery of attachments…always anxious to get a good husband for every pretty girl.” p. 36.

Marianne on thirty-five-year-old Col. Brandon: “Colonel Brandon is certainly younger than Mrs. Jennings, but he is old enough to be my father; and if he were ever animated enough to be in love, must have long outlived every sensation of the kind. Did you not hear him complain of the rheumatism? And is not that the commonest infirmity of declining life?” p. 37. ………. Marianne: “But he [Col. Brandon] talked of flannel waistcoats and with me a flannel waistcoat is invariably connected with aches, cramps, rheumatisms and every species of ailment that can afflict the old and the feeble.” p. 38. ………. Marianne: “I abhor every common-place phrase by which wit is intended; and ‘setting one’s cap at a man,’ or ‘making a conquest,’ are the most odious of all. Tendency is gross…and if their construction ever be deemed clever, time has long ago destroyed all its ingenuity.” p. 45.

Comment: The scene is set. Read the story. You will enjoy it. I enjoy everything that Jane Austen writes. It’s kind of fun to try to characterize the people I know and socialize with in the manner of Jane Austen. An interesting exercise in writing. RayS.

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