***THIS IS A REVIEW FOR THE BELKNAP HARVARD EDITION OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY: AN ANNOTATED EDITION, EDITED BY PATRICIA MEYER SPACKS*** For some excellent reviews on the novels itself, head over here: Sense and Sensibility (Dover Thrift Editions)
Sense and Sensibility is the fourth in what will hopefully be a continuing series released by Belknap Press of Harvard University. Missing are Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park and assorted incomplete works. The first three in the series have proven to be beautiful additions to the Austen library and this latest release is no exception.
For the more tactile reader (and I am assuming anyone who purchases must be, at least in part, a lover of physical books, since the internet is lousy with free digital editions of the novel), this book is a treat. Bound in the same delicious, waxy dust jacket that feels almost like cloth to the touch and finished with a cloth-like lining on the hardcover as the three previous editions, the book itself is a lovely thing to hold and look at. Once inside the book, the pages are heavy, print is crisp, dark and the illustrations are vibrant and crisp. The book itself is quite large, measuring a little over 9 x 9 inches, so the text and images are easy to see.
The editor, Patricia Meyer Spacks, was responsible for editing the Harvard Pride and Prejudice, which is perhaps the finest in the collection so far, in large part because of Spacks work. The annotations point out historical context, clarify meanings and word changes and provide insight into the author's intended meaning. Having read other annotated editions and a seriously ridiculous amount of Austen-related information (though I am an amateur, make no mistake), I have found the editor's annotations to be relevant, accurate and incredibly insightful, both in Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Though Sense and Sensibility is often considered Pride and Prejudice's ugly step-sister, Spacks treats the novel as the intelligent, witty effort that it is. Spacks provides perfect direction into a novel that is sometimes under-appreciated, giving new life to the book that will delight Austen virgins and experts alike.
The text adheres to the second edition of the novel, released in October 1813. It includes the original spelling and punctuation, which is a treat for the Austenite, since punctuation can make all the difference in the meaning of a sentence. If you, like I, wait for each fall when the new Harvard Austen novel is released, you won't be disappointed with this. If you are new to the series, this release is an excellent place to start. Top notch and wonderfully done.