Daniel's Reviews > Sense & Sensibility

Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
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Dec 03, 09

bookshelves: 2009
Read in December, 2009

It was poor timing on my part to read "Sense and Sensibility" soon after finishing "Middlemarch," a book I felt was, while not without flaws, a masterpiece. The two books, though written decades apart, invite comparisons: both have somewhat large casts of characters whose relations the reader is required to keep straight, both lean toward the satirical in their views of society, and both focus at least in part on young English women falling in love and arranging their marriages.

The problem is that "Sense and Sensibility" is quite a bit lighter and less ambitious than "Middlemarch." That's not meant as a dig at Jane Austen, whose book is a success within its own parameters; still, it feels somewhat fluffy right after "Middlemarch." Austen's book is more a young woman's novel -- both having been written by one, and likely aimed at such a readership as well -- while George Eliot's book carries the wisdom that comes with closely observing life for many years, and is perhaps best appreciated by readers who also have experienced the world for a while.

While I am not now nor have I ever been a young woman, I nevertheless may have gotten more enjoyment out of "Sense and Sensibility" had I waited a while to read it after finishing "Middlemarch." Or perhaps Austen's just not for me. I plan to try "Pride and Prejudice" as well before I write her off, but I think I'll hold off a bit this time. I can say this much about my first experience reading Austen: it didn't make me gay.
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11/22/2009 page 1
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11/23/2009 page 35
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message 2: by Jennifer (last edited Dec 03, 2009 08:43AM) (new) - added it

Jennifer Oh, give into some fluff, Daniel!

I think you're right that it's hard to jump into Jane Austen right after "Middlemarch." "Middlemarch" is so heavy. It makes Jane Austen seem very light and almost ditzy. And given that they're both set in generally the same time frame, with the same segment of English society, it's hard not to compare them.

Of course, it's partly my fault that you read it so soon after, since I suggested we read "Sense and Sensibility." And there, my friend, I have failed you! I started on Sense but couldn't go back to 1800s England so soon after Middlemarch and have abandoned it for now in favor of New Yorker articles I've missed over the last few months. Don't hate me!





Daniel I don't hate you, Jennifer. How could I? I wouldn't have had many really intelligent things to say about "Sense and Sensibility" while reading it anyhow, so little was lost by us not experiencing it concurrently.

Elizabeth, I won't give up on Austen without reading "Persuasion" then. But, again, if it makes me gay, there will be hell to pay.


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