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.
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 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.
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’s 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.
[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.
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.
The illustrations, literary commentary and definitions should be useful and interesting to any student of Jane Austen’s novels.
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.
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.
- 448 pages
- 9 x 9-1/2 inches
- Belknap Press
From this author
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