Title: The Annotated sense and Sensibility
Authors: Jane Austen; David Shapard (Ed.)
Genre: fiction (classic, with annotations)
Length: 709 pages
Published: 1811 (2011 for this specific edition)
Source: personal collection
Reason for Reading: Firstly, this year marks the 200th anniversary of the original publication of Sense and Sensibility, Austen’s first published work. Secondly, it just so happened that the annotated edition of this book was also released this year. Therefore, I had multiple reasons to read it!
Summary (from Goodreads):
Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.
My Thoughts: This is either my third or fourth reading of this book, but it was my first experience with the annotated edition. (I have read The Annotated P & P though.) Annotations aside, it never ceases to amaze me how much of my favorite books go forgotten by me between readings. I have this problem with Harry Potter, too. I know that the reason is because of the movies. Sense and Sensibility is a movie I watched many times before I read the book, but the rest of Austen’s books have movie versions I rarely watch, so the story stays truer in my mind.
As with The Annotated P & P, I really appreciated the notes. It cannot be easy deciding what deserves further explanation in some parts and what doesn’t. I think the biggest difference the notes made to me were in the area of Elinor and Lucy’s relationship. I had not really thought Lucy told Elinor of her engagement to Edward because she was marking her territory–it was a sort of, “Step off, bitch!” situation, according to Shapard. I, perhaps naively, simply thought that Lucy wanted to brag and boast, and picked Elinor to confide in because she was the more friendly sister of the two. I never contemplated why she chose that moment in time to tell of her secret. She easily could have been feeling him slipping away, not necessarily to anyone in particular, and therefore wanted to tell someone beside her sister so that she could further hold him to the engagement if he tried to squirm away.
Also, I was a little surprise as to how much time the ending took. Elinor and Edward get engaged with a couple chapters left, and then they’re married for almost a whole year before Marianne marries Colonel Brandon. I would not have realized that there was a whole year between those events if it hadn’t been for Shapard’s notes and timeline for the whole book.
I still have misgivings towards Willoughby. I feel much like Elinor in regards to him. I feel sorry for him, but he was quite in the wrong at the same time. The notations made me see a little clearer how much of his explanation to Elinor was to make himself look better than he was before revealing the whole story. So that makes me lean a little towards the “he’s just plain bad” side.
But I still love Mr. Palmer
“I did not know I contradicted anyone in calling your mother ill-bred.” (p310)
He’s very comical. (I love Hugh Laurie as Mr. Palmer in the 1995 movie.)