Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sense and Sensibility [Worth Press]

It's interesting how movies based on books change your perceptions of those books.  When I read Harry Potter now, I picture Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, etc.  I've read Sense and Sensibility before and never had any particular affection for the characters of Edward and Colonel Brandon.  But now that I picture Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman, respectively, the choices of Elinor and Marianne make a little more sense.  Anyway, I continue to find Austen's writing quite charming and affable.  It's a great picture into a particular period in English history's obsession with wealth when it comes to marriage among the idle gentry.  Although I've now read each of Austen's books a couple of times over my life, I have to confess that they tend to blur together in my mind: young female leads of the lower gentry (often sisters) entangled in romantic dramas that turn out for the best in the end.  But that's okay: Batman stops the villains and Buffy slays the monsters in issue after issue and episode after episode, and I don't complain.

The Worth Press edition of Sense and Sensibility comes with four essays.  "Modern Interpretations" by John Wiltshire contains a very interesting discussion of how literary critics have offered different views on whether Austen favours Elinor's "sense" (wisdom) or Marianne's "sensibility" (passion).  The distinction between the two characters is, of course, the theme of the book and so this essay is well worth reading.  "Regency Life" by Maggie Lane discusses the landed gentry and issues of class during Austen's time period, and then turns to the aesthetic appreciation for the "picturesque", a term which had a particular relation to the works of William Gilpin.  Caroline Sanderson's "Geographical Settings" takes the reader through the various fictional and real-world locations the book is set.  Finally, "A Modern Perspective" by Josephine Ross, offers a somewhat rambling defence of the book.

So that's the last Worth Press edition in the black faux-leather binding that I know of.  The fifteen volumes make a nice collection on my shelves, and blogging about them was a good way to get me to read something more than genre fiction.  My next project along the same vein is to start collecting Norton Critical Editions, and I already have a few to read in 2014.

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