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Sense and Sensibility: Illustrated Edition (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Jane Austen

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Though not the first novel she wrote, Sense and Sensibility was the first Jane Austen published. Though she initially called it Elinor and Marianne, Austen jettisoned both the title and the epistolary mode in which it was originally written, but kept the essential theme: the necessity of finding a workable middle ground between passion and reason. The story revolves around the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne. Whereas the former is a sensible, rational creature, her younger sister is wildly romantic--a characteristic that offers Austen plenty of scope for both satire and compassion. Commenting on Edward Ferrars, a potential suitor for Elinor's hand, Marianne admits that while she "loves him tenderly," she finds him disappointing as a possible lover for her sister:
Oh! Mama, how spiritless, how tame was Edward's manner in reading to us last night! I felt for my sister most severely. Yet she bore it with so much composure, she seemed scarcely to notice it. I could hardly keep my seat. To hear those beautiful lines which have frequently almost driven me wild, pronounced with such impenetrable calmness, such dreadful indifference!
Soon however, Marianne meets a man who measures up to her ideal: Mr. Willoughby, a new neighbor. So swept away by passion is Marianne that her behavior begins to border on the scandalous. Then Willoughby abandons her; meanwhile, Elinor's growing affection for Edward suffers a check when he admits he is secretly engaged to a childhood sweetheart. How each of the sisters reacts to their romantic misfortunes, and the lessons they draw before coming finally to the requisite happy ending forms the heart of the novel. Though Marianne's disregard for social conventions and willingness to consider the world well-lost for love may appeal to modern readers, it is Elinor whom Austen herself most evidently admired; a truly happy marriage, she shows us, exists only where sense and sensibility meet and mix in proper measure. --Alix Wilber

Extrait

Chapter One

The family of Dashwood had been long settled in Sussex (1). Their estate was large (2), and their residence was at Norland Park, in the centre of their property, where, for many generations, they had lived in so respectable a manner, as to engage (3) the general good opinion of their surrounding acquaintance. The late owner of this estate was a single man, who lived to a very advanced age, and who for many years of his life, had a constant companion and housekeeper (4) in his sister. But her death, which happened ten years before his own, produced a great alteration in his home; for to supply her loss, he invited and received into his house the family of his nephew Mr. Henry Dashwood, the legal inheritor of the Norland estate (5), and the person to whom he intended to bequeath it. In the society of his nephew and niece, and their children, the old Gentleman's days were comfortably spent. His attachment to them all increased. The constant attention of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dashwood to his wishes, which proceeded not merely from interest, but from goodness of heart, gave him every degree of solid comfort which his age could receive; and the cheerfulness of the children added a relish to his existence.

By a former marriage, Mr. Henry Dashwood had one son: by his present lady, three daughters. The son, a steady respectable young man, was amply provided for by the fortune of his mother, which had been large, and half of which devolved on him on his coming of age (6). By his own marriage, likewise, which happened soon afterwards, he added to his wealth (7). To him therefore the succession to the Norland estate was not so really important as to his sisters; for their fortune, independent of what might arise to them from their father's inheriting that property, could be but small. Their mother had nothing, and their father only seven thousand pounds in his own disposal; for the remaining moiety of his first wife's fortune was also secured to her child, and he had only a life interest in it (8).

The old Gentleman died; his will was read, and like almost every other will, gave as much disappointment as pleasure (9). He was neither so unjust, nor so ungrateful, as to leave his estate from his nephew;—but he left it to him on such terms as destroyed half the value of the bequest. Mr. Dashwood had wished for it more for the sake of his wife and daughters than for himself or his son:—but to his son, and his son's son, a child of four years old, it was secured, in such a way, as to leave to himself no power of providing for those who were most dear to him, and who most needed a provision, by any charge on the estate (10), or by any sale of its valuable woods (11). The whole was tied up for the benefit of this child (12), who, in occasional visits with his father and mother at Norland (13), had so far gained on the affections of his uncle, by such attractions as are by no means unusual in children of two or three years old; an imperfect articulation, an earnest desire of having his own way, many cunning tricks, and a great deal of noise, as to outweigh all the value of all the attention which, for years, he had received from his niece and her daughters (14). He meant not to be unkind however, and, as a mark of his affection for the three girls, he left them a thousand pounds a-piece.

Mr. Dashwood's disappointment was, at first, severe; but his temper was cheerful and sanguine, and he might reasonably hope to live many years, and by living economically, lay by a considerable sum from the produce of an estate already large, and capable of almost immediate improvement (15). But the fortune, which had been so tardy in coming, was his only one twelvemonth. He survived his uncle no longer; and ten thousand pounds, including the late legacies, was all that remained for his widow and daughters (16).

His son was sent for, as soon as his danger was known (17), and to him Mr. Dashwood recommended, with all the strength and urgency which illness could command, the interest of his mother-in-law (18) and sisters.

Mr. John Dashwood had not the strong feelings of the rest of the family; but he was affected by a recommendation of such a nature at such a time, and he promised to do every thing in his power to make them comfortable. His father was rendered easy by such an assurance, and Mr. John Dashwood had then leisure to consider how much there might prudently be in his power to do for them.

He was not an ill-disposed young man, unless to be rather cold hearted, and rather selfish, is to be ill-disposed: but he was, in general, well respected; for he conducted himself with propriety in the discharge of his ordinary duties. Had he married a more amiable woman, he might have been made still more respectable (19) than he was:—he might even have been made amiable (20) himself; for he was very young when he married, and very fond of his wife. But Mrs. John Dashwood was a strong caricature of himself;—more narrow-minded (21) and selfish.

When he gave his promise to his father, he meditated within himself to increase the fortunes of his sisters by the present of a thousand pounds a-piece. He then really thought himself equal to it. The prospect of four thousand a-year, in addition to his present income, besides the remaining half of his own mother's fortune (22), warmed his heart and made him feel capable of generosity (23).—"Yes, he would give them three thousand pounds: it would be liberal and handsome! It would be enough to make them completely easy. Three thousand pounds! he could spare so considerable a sum with little inconvenience."—He thought of it all day long, and for many days successively, and he did not repent (26).

No sooner was his father's funeral over, than Mrs. John Dashwood, without sending any notice of her intention to her mother-in-law, arrived with her child and their attendants. No one could dispute her right to come; the house was her husband's from the moment of his father's decease; but the indelicacy of her conduct was so much the greater, and to a woman in Mrs. Dashwood's situation, with only common feelings, must have been highly unpleasing (27),—but in her mind there was a sense of honour so keen, a generosity so romantic, that any offence of the kind, by whomsoever given or received, was to her a source of immoveable disgust (28). Mrs. John Dashwood had never been a favourite with any of her husband's family; but she had had no opportunity, till the present, of shewing them with how little attention to the comfort of other people she could act when occasion required it.

So acutely did Mrs. Dashwood feel this ungracious behaviour, and so earnestly did she despise her daughter-in-law for it, that, on the arrival of the latter, she would have quitted the house for ever (29), had not the entreaty of her eldest girl induced her first to reflect on the propriety of going, and her own tender love for all her three children determined her afterwards to stay, and for their sakes avoid a breach with their brother.

Elinor, this eldest daughter whose advice was so effectual, possessed a strength of understanding, and coolness of judgment, which qualified her, though only nineteen (30), to be the counsellor of her mother, and enabled her frequently to counteract, to the advantage of them all, that eagerness of mind in Mrs. Dashwood which must generally have led to imprudence. She had an excellent heart;—her disposition was affectionate, and her feelings were strong; but she knew how to govern them (31): it was a knowledge which her mother had yet to learn, and which one of her sisters had resolved never to be taught.

Marianne's abilities were, in many respects, quite equal to Elinor's (32). She was sensible and clever; but eager in every thing; her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting (33): she was every thing but prudent. The resemblance between her and her mother was strikingly great.

Elinor saw, with concern, the excess of her sister's sensibility (34); but by Mrs. Dashwood it was valued and cherished. They encouraged each other now in the violence of their affliction. The agony of grief which overpowered them at first, was voluntarily renewed, was sought for, was created again and again (35). They gave themselves up wholly to their sorrow, seeking increase of wretchedness in every reflection that could afford it (36), and resolved against ever admitting (37) consolation in future. Elinor, too, was deeply afflicted; but still she could struggle, she could exert herself. She could consult with her brother, could receive her sister-in-law on her arrival, and treat her with proper attention; and could strive to rouse her mother to similar exertion, and encourage her to similar forbearance.

Margaret, the other sister, was a good-humoured well-disposed girl; but as she had already imbibed a good deal of Marianne's romance (38), without having much of her sense, she did not, at thirteen, bid fair to equal her sisters at a more advanced period of life.


Annotations
1. Sussex: A county south of London.

2. The gentry that dominates this and other Jane Austen novels were based in rural estates, whose agricultural profits formed the principal source of their income.

3. engage: gain.

4. “Housekeeper” was often used to refer to a high-ranking female servant. Here it means that his sister supervised the household, which would include directing and managing the servants, deciding on meals, ordering supplies for the house, and attending to the needs of residents and guests. These tasks were normally performed by women, so a man without a wife would usually have a sister or other unmarried female relative live with him for this purpose. Since unmarried women rarely had homes of their own, she would benefit by gaining a secure home in which she exercised a position of importance and influence.

5. When a landowner lacked sons, a paternal nephew, as Henry Dashwood’s name indicates he is, would normally be the sole heir. The idea was to preserve the family estate intact, and in the male line— if a woman inherited and then married, the estate would become her husband’s property, thereby transferring it to a different family. Thus even landowners who had daughters would usually leave the property to a nephew or other male relative.

6. The mother’s fortune would have come under the control of her husband upon her marriage, but the marriage settlement would have dictated that the son receive it upon turning  twenty-one, the legal age of adulthood. Elaborate financial settlements, concerning the husband and wife and any children they might have, were standard for marriages among the gentry.

7.A woman almost always brought a dowry to a marriage: its size would significantly determine her marital desirability, as will be seen at various pointsin this novel. In return for the dowry, which would fall under the control of the husband, he, or his family in the event of his death, would be obligated to provide for her. Pin money, a certain annual sum for her personal use, would usually be part of the marriage settlement.

The dowry here, as revealed later, is ten thousand pounds. Thus it is more than what Mr. Henry Dashwood is shown below to have at his disposal. One mark of Jane Austen’s novels is precision about monetary sums, along with an appreciation of the important role money plays in life.

8. This means Henry Dashwood is able to use the income from the remaining moiety, or half, of his wife’s fortune but cannot touch the principal,which will go to his son after he dies. The family of the bride would often secure such an arrangement in the marriage settlement. It ensured that her fortune would ultimately go to her children, even if the husband turned out to befinancially irresponsible, or if he, after she died, married again and was persuaded by his second wife to leave all his money to his second set of children.

9. Jane Austen herself, along with the rest of her immediate family, experienced disappointments on learning of the wills of some relatives.

10. He could not give them money from the estate, or money he borrowed using the estate as collateral.

11. Timber was often a leading product of estates. Wood was central to the economy of the time, used to make a variety of items that are currently made of metal or plastic.

12. It was standard practice for estates to be bound by such a settlement. By allowing the current holder of the property only to draw income from it, it ensured the estate would pass intact to the succeeding heir. At the same time, most settlements did not restrict the current holders quite this severely, and while they almost all gave the bulk of the estate to the eldest male of the next generation, they usually made more generous provision for other children than this one.

13. That they paid only “occasional visits” to the man’s father and grandfather hints at the lack of family feeling that will shortly be on full display.

14. Jane Austen, while described by nieces and nephews as a kind, attentive aunt, often criticizes in her novels excessive or blind fondness for children.

15. For more than a century many landowners had undertaken improvements to their estates, through clearing unproductive land for cultivation or increasing yields by agricultural innovations. The resulting increases in the food supply and population were important factors in the industrial revolution that began in  England in the late eighteenth century. Greater income over the years, along with economical living, would allow Mr. Dashwood to accumulate a substantial sum that he then could pass on to his wife and daughters.

16. This would come from their three thousand pounds and the seven thousand pounds already mentioned as under the father’s control.

17. Meaning the danger of his dying soon.

18. mother-in-law: stepmother.

19. respectable: worthy, decent. The term, like the  just-used “propriety,” was thoroughly complimentary, with none of the negative connotations sometimes found today.

20. amiable: kind, friendly, good-natured. The word then suggested general goodness and not just outward agreeableness.

21. narrow-minded: mercenary, parsimonious. In a letter Jane Austen expresses doubt of someone’s ability to “persuade a perverse and narrow-minded woman to oblige those whom she does not love” (Jan. 25, 1801).

22. The four thousand would be the income from the estate. His wife’s dowry of ten thousand would, at the standard 5% rate of return on investments then, yield five hundred a year. Since his mother’s fortune was described as large, his annual income would now be at least five thousand pounds a year, perhaps even six or seven. This is far more than Mrs. Dashwood, who would get only five hundred pounds a year from her ten thousand.

It is hard to translate these amounts into current terms, for relative costs of things were very different then. Goods tended to cost a great deal, while services, including  full-time live-in servants, were relatively cheap. But, allowing for that, a pound then is worth approximately 55 pounds today, which at 2010 rates is the equivalent of 80 to 85 U.S. dollars. This would make John Dashwood’s income somewhere around half a million dollars a year. For the time, this would probably put him in the top .1 or .2% of the population.

23. That John Dashwood feels capable of generosity only after inheriting such a considerable fortune signals that he is far from naturally generous.

24. liberal: generous.

25. easy: comfortable financially.

26. That he thinks of it so continually suggests that he may be finding it difficult to reconcile himself to it.

27. Once the house became her husband’s Mrs. John Dashwood would takeover the position of mistress and housekeeper from Mrs. Dashwood (see above, note 4). This is why nobody disputes her right, but a more delicate, or sensitive, person would have refrained from displacing so quickly a woman who had just lost her husband from a position she had long held.

28. disgust: distaste. The word did not have as strong a connotation then.

29. Mrs. Dashwood will often display the same impulsiveness shown here, along with the same tender affection for her children. The impropriety of hastily leaving probably refers to the insult it would be to John Dashwood.

30. In calling Elinor “only nineteen” the author raises a possible point of criticism, namely whether someone of Elinor’s youth could display the extraordinary wisdom and self-command that she does throughout the novel.

31.This sentence provides an excellent summation of Elinor’s character. She represents the “Sense” of the title, but this does not mean she is a creature of pure reason. She shows at various points the strong feelings mentioned here. What distinguishes her is her willingness and ability to control them and act rationally and sensibly, even in the most trying circumstances.

32. The generally equal abilities of Marianne to Elinor, referring particularly to her intellectual abilities, are an important point, as is Marianne’s generally equal goodness. Their acute differences stem from their different outlooks on life and opinions on how to act and feel.

33. interesting: engaging; inclined to arouse curiosity or emotion.

34. “Sensibility,” a word used often then, had a variety of meanings, with the most important revolving around the capacity for sensation or feeling. It was a term often used positively, by Jane Austen as well, for she never regards an incapacity to feel, something displayed by various characters in her works, as laudable. This is why Elinor regrets only the “excess of her sister’s sensibility.”

“Sensibility” in the eighteenth century had also come to refer to a broad cultural movement that extolled acute feeling and sensitivity (for more on this background, see introduction). Many literary works expounded and celebrated this idea, even as others criticized it. The cult of sensibility exercised an important influence on, and shared much with, Romanticism, which by Jane Austen’s time had become a powerful cultural force in Europe. Thus this novel is responding quite explicitly to contemporary matters of great concern and debate.

35. This indulgence in grief and deliberate cultivation of it would be appropriate for a devotee of sensibility. Its advocates believed in fostering and intensifying a variety of emotions, and saw a capacity for grieving and weeping copiously as a mark of tenderness and virtue.

36. They turned to every reflection that would make them more wretched.

37. admitting: allowing; permitting themselves.

38. romance: imaginative or romantic qualities.

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  • Format : Format Kindle
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  • Editeur : Maplewood Books (6 août 2014)
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Amazon.com: 4.4 étoiles sur 5  100 commentaires
6 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Pre-Victorian Theater of the Absurd 25 janvier 2015
Par larry p - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
This is the fourth Jane Austin novel that I've read in the past few years (although GoodReads doesn't appear to have credited me with <cite>Pride and Prejudice</cite>), and I think I might have enjoyed it the most. Perhaps it's because I've always been in love with Emma Thompson who plays Elinore Dashwood in the video version we watch from time to time (although not nearly so frequently as we watch <cite>Pride and Prejudice</cite> or <cite>Persuasion</cite>—also note that Emma T. is really a bit old to be playing a 19 year-old. None the less, when you're in love with someone, you let such things pass...).

Or perhaps it's just that I was feeling in need of something I could view as comically absurd. Because, that's how I viewed the novel: theater of the absurd. Here we have idle, useless people—every single one of them—conniving, talking at cross purposes, having fits of vapors at the drop of a hat, switching love objects, changing opinions without ever knowing their past opinions existed (Orwellian re-writing of history?), you name it. Yet, of course, much of the social commentary is still apt two hundred years later. The real "takers" in society are those who inherited their wealth and think, thereby, that they are better than everyone else. This is just as true for the Bushes, Waltons, and Romneys of today as it was for the Dashwoods and Ferrars of yesteryear. Basically useless people, some of whom are quite nice and charming, but who think themselves somehow better than those of us who weren't born to wealth, and so who have to make our own ways.

It's the classic Jane Austen story. Young women basically have no role in life except to find themselves a husband, preferably one who is well heeled. Some work out the problem by developing intellect and talent and others by guile and conniving. But of course, they also have to find themselves in the presence of marriageable young men in order to snag one. That's not such a problem if one's parents are rich, because then you're available for all the balls and outings of the social season. But, if, as the young Dashwood girls, you've come upon more "pinched" times, then a season in London is more difficult to effect, and you may have to rely on the offices of someone you would otherwise avoid at all costs.

Then too, some of the young men are looking for young women with some pecuniary resources of their own so as to shore up the young men's expensive diversions. That also creates "issues" for the Dashwood girls. It doesn't help them that one of them is overly endowed with good "sense", i.e. rational to a fault (at least from the standpoint of a pre-Victorian woman), so doesn't trust her feelings, while the other is overly endowed with "sensiblity" (in the pre-Victorian meaning), i.e. too much a slave to her feelings and not much taken to acting rationally.

Anyway, it's all good fun. Lots of chatter about potential mates, beaux, balls, outings, and so forth. Austen accompanies much of this with wry commentary on people's actual versus their stated desires and plans.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Great debut novel 25 mai 2015
Par PuroShaggy - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
"Sense and Sensibility" has everything you would expect from a Jane Austen novel. If you have never read a Jane Austen novel, then this one will prepare you for what lies ahead in other Jane Austen novels. Romance, both requited and unrequited; two young single women using whatever gifts they were born with, intellect and wit in one case, beauty and social graces in the other, to secure themselves a husband; all manner of single men, ranging from rakes to dandies to complete bores; lots and lots of dialogue about money and allowances and inheritances, yet very little actual work to earn that money; social gatherings galore in which rumors are spread, whispers are hushed, misunderstandings are further misunderstood, and hearts are broken, mislead, confused, amused and abused.
Of the 6 major Jane Austen novels, "Sense and Sensibility" was the first one published and seems the driest. All the elements are here that would later define Austen as one of the great English novelists, but there does not seem to be as much zest and quirkiness as some of the latter novels possess. When, early on in the book hearts are broken when misunderstandings are revealed, it is somewhat obvious that further misunderstandings will mend these same hearts, and sure enough, that is what happens. "Sense and Sensibility" runs the most predictable course of the half dozen Austen classics and also lacks some of the comic undertones that defined the other novels.
Regardless, this is a great book, especially if you like the nineteenth century upper middle class English lifestyle. If you are new to Austen, read this one first and if her hooks get in you, then know that Austen's books get better from here on out.
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Money and class and family and money... 15 novembre 2015
Par Sylvia McIvers - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Here's a fact: mother in law used to mean a step-mother, as well as one's spouses mother. In this post, spoilers ahoy.

If I hadn't known that this was written before the invention of television, I'd have thought it was a soap opera. Our Heroes, Elinor and Marianne, fall in love with eligible young gentlemen... or so it seems!

We open with the death of old man Dashwood, who tells his son John Dashwood to take care of his younger half sisters. John inherits the house and property and money, his half-sisters inherit nothing, and the mother who raised John gets nothing but her widow's pittance. John plans to settle 1000 a year on his sisters, which is a really nice amount, but his wife Fanny assures him that they will be poverty stricken if they throw away so much money, isn't it enough that they let the women stay in the big house instead of throwing them out? Six months later, the women leave. Fanny is happy, John is kind of embarrassed. Not enough to give them any money, though.

Nineteen year old Elinor Dashwood's beau, Mr. Edward Ferrars, is the brother of Fanny "show me the money" Dashwood. (need a map? I'll wait while you draw one). He can't marry her because Mrs. Ferrars is holding out for a wealthy heiress. And, secretly, Edward has been engaged to the utterly unsuitable Lucy Steele for the last four years. Oops. Why is he mooning around Elinor? Because he fell out of love with Lucy, but he won't break his engagement, which has to be secret from his mama, so it seems that he's available to Elinor, but he doesn't even tell her... Total soap opera material.

Eighteen year old Marianne, on the other hand, has two beaux. (boyfriends sounds better in the french, right?) Marrianne is entirely certain that Colonel Brandon is a joke, because a) he's old, like thirty or something! And b) had his heart broken in his youth, so he certainly can't fall in love, because people only ever fall in love once. For sure. Says the 18 year old wise-woman.

On the other hand, John Willoughby is a manly hunter who rescues her when she slips in the rain and twists her ankle. So romantic! and he loves going on walks with her, and loves all her favorite books, and loves all of her music, and can practically finish her sentences. He has an elderly aunt living nearby on her huge estate, and shows Marianne around. They talk about where they'll have their parties someday... not that they're engaged or anything. Incidentally, Willoughby has a mountain of debt, aunty threatened to disinherit him if he doesn't show some moral character by marrying someone rich enough to pay off his debt, and by the way he has a daughter by a fifteen year old girl.

The way this was all settled out was fun to follow.
The book is amazing.
They all live happily ever after, except for domestic quarrels
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Just great! 11 janvier 2016
Par dimian - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
I’ve just finished reading Pride and Prejudice. So why am I reviewing Sense and Sensibility instead? Because I read it first, and if I hadn’t read it first I wouldn’t have read it at all. Reading Sense and Sensibility as like finding hidden treasure. I hadn’t read Jane Austen before. The trailers for the films and TV adaptations had put me off. It was easy to allow them to confirm my preconceptions. I can’t even remember how I came to ever start it. But once I started it I couldn’t put it down. I loved it! It’s fully of irony and poignant humor, and it reads like a dream. Impetuously I would have rated Pride and Prejudice with only three stars. By comparison I found it slow and repetitive, lacking the edge that I found so endearing in Sense and Sensibility. But that would have been unfair, so I decided instead to write this short review for Sense and Sensibility, and give it the five stars that it more than deserves.

I read somewhere that Jane Austen is a great writer about small subjects. Less pretentiously I’d rather just say that she’s great..
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 perfect 5 novembre 2013
Par Lydia - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
great book. a classic. I want to see the movie. It is romance incarnate. I will purchase the movie next.
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