Sense and Sensibility
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Jane Austen's first published novel, Sense and Sensibility is the classic coming of age story of two sisters-Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, who have contrasting temperaments. On the surface Elinor, the older sister represents sense, while Marianne represents sensibility; however upon closer examination we find that they both exhibit varying aspects of each characteristic. Set in southwest England, in the towns of London and Kent, the novel follows the lives of the two sisters as they struggle to find love, romance, and ultimately deal with the heartbreaks along the way. The novel ponders the question of which is the best characteristic-sense or sensibility. It is unclear ultimately what Austen intended as the answer to this question, whether or not she left the novel purposefully ambiguous or if her suggestion is that a proper temperament requires some measure of both qualities. Sense and Sensibility is a compelling study of character and one of the great achievements of the romantic genre.
About the Author:
Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics.
Austen lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry. She was educated primarily by her father and older brothers as well as through her own reading. The steadfast support of her family was critical to her development as a professional writer. Her artistic apprenticeship lasted from her teenage years until she was about 35 years old. During this period, she experimented with various literary forms, including the epistolary novel which she tried then abandoned, and wrote and extensively revised three major novels and began a fourth. From 1811 until 1816, with the release of 'Sense and Sensibility' (1811), 'Pride and Prejudice' (1813), 'Mansfield Park' (1814) and 'Emma' (1815), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, 'Northanger Abbey' and 'Persuasion', both published posthumously in 1818, and began a third, which was eventually titled 'Sanditon', but died before completing it.
Austen's works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century realism. Her plots, though fundamentally comic, highlight the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security. Her work brought her little personal fame and only a few positive reviews during her lifetime, but the publication in 1869 of her nephew's 'A Memoir of Jane Austen' introduced her to a wider public, and by the 1940s she had become widely accepted in academia as a great English writer. The second half of the 20th century saw a proliferation of Austen scholarship and the emergence of a Janeite fan culture.
Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, in Steventon, Hampshire, England. While not widely known in her own time, Austen's comic novels of love among the landed gentry gained popularity after 1869, and her reputation skyrocketed in the 20th century. Her novels, including Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, are considered literary classics, bridging the gap between romance and realism.
The seventh child and second daughter of Cassandra and George Austen, Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, in Steventon, Hampshire, England. Jane's parents were well-respected community members. Her father served as the Oxford-educated rector for a nearby Anglican parish. The family was close and the children grew up in an environment that stressed learning and creative thinking. When Jane was young, she and her siblings were encouraged to read from their father's extensive library. The children also authored and put on plays and charades.
Over the span of her life, Jane would become especially close to her father and older sister, Cassandra. Indeed, she and Cassandra would one day collaborate on a published work.