Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Sense & Sensibility”

Gently Persuaded

Raise your hand if you prefer Pride and Prejudice.

All right, now raise your hand for Emma.

How about Sense and Sensibility?

Mansfield Park? Okay.

Northhanger Abbey? Just asking.

And the rest of you? It’s got to be for Persuasion–right?

Well, Jane only wrote six novels; it’s got to be for one of them.

Hmm, I shall gently try to persuade you to cast your Austen vote for Persuasion.

Reason 1:

  • Pride and Prejudice gets much too much attention.  Jane has six literary children and P&P will become unbearably too spoiled with so much fuss. Look at all the celebratory brouhaha over the publishing of the novel! Goodness…

Reason 2:

  • Anne and Frederick don’t have to go through that messy “love me, love me not” business found in JA’s other plots; they already love each other.  Getting to the point where they re-realize it makes it so much more satisfying than the on/off dilemma.

Reason 3:

  • Persuasion has THE best love letter.  Here is a partial:

“I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.” 

Who could not met upon receiving this as an encouragement?

Reason 4:

  • Anne and Frederick are older and have been knocked around a bit in life and more truly represent the reality that love’s course is not perfect. In other words: their love is more relatable than the fairy-talish idea of sitting around and waiting for Mr or Ms Right to pop along when least expected (okay–Emma had a bit of that going on).

Reason 5:

  • the 1995 version with Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root captures well the complicated tango of emotions these two separated lovers endure as they find their way back into each other’s hearts and arms.  Amanda Root’s transformation from wilted and worn down spinister-in-the-making to resolute refreshed woman is transfixing.

True love lingers and is not forgotten

So, five amazing reasons why Persuasion should become THE Jane Austen first mentioned in her stable of renowned novels.

Have I persuaded you?

English: Persuasion(ch. 9) Jane Austen: In ano...

English: Persuasion(ch. 9) Jane Austen: In another moment … someone was taking him from her. Français : Persuasion(ch. 9) Frederick libère Anne de son jeune neveu, qui l’étouffe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013

Egads, Those Cads of Literature

You know who they are.  Those bad boys who jilt the girl, cheat the honest friend, and play havoc with the plot.  They are the cads of literature.  Having finished Jane Austen’s Persuasion I have added Mr. Elliot to the list.  His subterfuge was most deplorable.  Then again, I do adore how she swiftly cast him aside for someone much more worthy of her devotion.  My favorite heroines have done just that–put those cads in their place.  Since I am on a Jane Austen revisiting read here are some cads that live in her books:

Henry Crawford (Mansfield Park)–I detected cad from the very start

Frank Churchill (Emma)–what a naughty game you played with so many hearts

Oh, Willoughby (Sense and Sensibility)–we wanted so much to like you

Elliot (Persuasion)–did you really think you could turn Anne’s head or her heart away from Wentworth?

Tsk tsk, Wickham (Pride and Prejudice)–your charm could not cover your secret faults


As to Northhanger Abbey, I haven’t decided who the cad truly is.  It’s up on my list to review.  As to other literary cads–any nominees?  Rhett Butler comes to mind, but then was he a cad or simply a foil for Scarlett?

Happy reading!

English: Engraving of Steventon rectory, home ...

English: Engraving of Steventon rectory, home of the Austen family during much of Jane Austen’s lifetime (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jane’s First Novel Makes Much Sense

Mention Jane Austen and people go “Pride and Prejudice.“Why don’t they go, “Sense and Sensibility?”  It was, after all, her first novel, and it has much going for it.  Okay, okay, Edward isn’t exactly Darcy, but all the other elements are there:

  • close sisters (Marianne and Elinor meet Elizabeth and Jane)
  • an annoying mother (not Mrs Dashwood–Mrs Jennings)
  • an insufferable matriarch (boo Mrs Ferrars)
  • mixed up romances (just hang in there, Marianne/Elinor/Lizzie/Jane)
  • a charming cad (yo whazzup, Willoughby–yah, itz good, Wickham)
  • wealth (30,000 a year!)
  • poverty (250 a year!)
  • sex without marriage (tsk tsk Kitty, poor Eliza)
  • catty women (meow Fanny)
  • happy endings after waiting and waiting for things to get sorted out
English: "I saw him cut it off" - Ma...

English: “I saw him cut it off” – Margaret tells Elinor that she saw Willoughby cut a lock of Marianne’s hair off. Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. London: George Allen, 1899. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, why doesn’t Sense and Sensibility make the connection with JA word association?  It might be because we relate to “pride” and “prejudice” more than we do “sense” and “sensibility.”  What the snuffbox is “sensibility” anyhow?

According to the old Wikipedster it relates to sentimentality or the emotional response, which JA wasn’t too keen on, and hoped her novel would point out the need to have rationalism rather than emotionalism. I think we moderns can respond and relate to the emotional response idea but we don’t necessarily live there.  Instead I think we counter react by not not reacting and create characters known for not having emotions, like House or  siccing out zombies as a means of coping with sensory overload.  Hysterics are in vogue right now it seems; on the other hand we do recognize everybody or every creature isn’t all bad. Maybe that’s why monsters these days have feelings.  Unlike the original Barnabas Collins modern vampires twinkle or is that sparkle? Perhaps that explains the odd coupling of monsters with Regency mavens such as Elizabeth and Elinor. Could it be Regency meets Modernism?  An odd ying yang match? Give me the old-fashioned classic sans monsters, please.

Another theory about the second novel surpassing the first is Jane’s choice of title. I’ve been trying them out:

1. Practical and Passion–still has that alliteration and ideology
2. Sedate and Sensitive–nope, sounds like a Saturday Night Live skit
3. Reason and Raison d’être–or is that the same thing?
4. Sensible and Silly–that’s being rather harsh on Marianne, I suppose
5. No-nonsense and Neurotic–maybe too modern

Pride and Prejudice is definitely a great read, after all it’s a classic; personally I believe it makes for better films than a novel.  Of all the JA novels I’ve been revisiting, Sense and Sensibility is the only one I’ve snuck to school in hopes of reading on my lunch break (two pages before students found me).  Maybe it’s because I “watched” while I read since I had just come off a three film S&S film fest (1981, 1995, 2008) and had each major scene indelibly imprinted in my mind as I scoured the chapters comparing and assessing the plot.

So far in my rediscovering reading of JA Sense and Sensibility leads.  I’m off to reread Persuasion. I’ll let you know the score after I turn the last page.

REad ThiS                                                                                                   NOT ThiS


  • Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

    image: Barnes and Noble


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