Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility

Everyman's Library
by Jane Austen, Peter Conrad (Introduction)
Library Binding, 367 pages
Price: $22.00

In its marvelously perceptive portrayal of two young women in love, Sense and Sensibility is the answer to those critics and readers who believe that Jane Austen's novels, despite their perfection of form and tone, lack strong feeling. Its two heroines—so utterly unlike each other—both undergo the most violent passions when they are separated from the men they love.

What differentiates them, and gives this extraordinary book its complexity and brilliance, is the way each expresses her suffering: Marianne—young, impetuous, ardent—falls into paroxysms of grief when she is rejected by the dashing John Willoughby; while her sister, Elinor—wiser, more sensible, more self-controlled—masks her despair when it appears that Edward Ferrars is to marry the mean-spirited and cunning Lucy Steele.

All, of course, ends happily—but not until Elinor's "sense" and Marianne's "sensibility" have equally worked to reveal the profound emotional life that runs beneath the surface of Jane Austen's immaculate and irresistible art.

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