Sunday, 15 May 2011

Sense and Sensibility 200th Anniversary Post (2)

Willoughby, who for two-thirds of the book arouses the readers' detestation as a brutal scoundrel, is shown by a wonderful transition whose suddenness is equalled only by its complete convincingness to be actually an object of sympathy. Elizabeth Jenkins, Jane Austen, 1948

The wild and stormy night of Willoughby's return is one of my favourite chapters in Sense and Sensibility. Elinor is keeping vigil over her dangerously ill sister and the wind is howling around the house when she hears a coach and horses draw up. Thinking it is her mother she rises to greet a grief-stricken and remorseful Willoughby. Such is Austen's genius - what Eudora Welty calls 'fairy gifts' - the heartless and mercenary Willoughby actually arouses our pity and even the cool-headed Elinor is overwhelmed by his charisma and physical attractiveness. I suspect Austen quite likes Willoughby too, as she slyly says:

His wife was not always out of humour, nor his home always uncomfortable; and in his breed of horses and dogs, and in sporting of every kind, he found no inconsiderable degree of domestic felicity. Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, 1811

The new annotated edition of Pride and Prejudice is printed on thick creamy paper with beautiful photos and detailed notes by Patricia Meyer Spacks. Some of the annotations seem to state the obvious. Anyone familiar with Austen will know that 'vulgar' means of a low social class and 'dirt' is mud. It is a lovely book, but at £25 I think this is probably one for Austen addicts only!


Sunday Taylor said...

As I am an Austen addict, I think I may have to buy it. And it is a beauty! Thanks for letting us know about this beautiful new annotated edition of one of my favorite Jane Austen books.

Steph said...

Oh, it's been ages since I read S&S and all I can think of is of what a scoundrel Willoughby is and how wonderful Colonel Brandon is. Perhaps because I cannot get rid of poor suffering Alan Rickman from my mind due to the film version? I like to read one Austen per year, and I think given the momentous 200 year anniversary, this shall be the one I choose.

Oh, and while I was tempted by the annotated P&P, I did some browsing and realized many of the notes were more like definitions of words rather than providing any other real insight so decided it was not a must have edition.

Jillian said...

I'm currently reading that copy of Pride and Prejudice! It is GORGEOUS.

For a moment, I thought the book you'd pictured was a new version of Sense and Sensibility. I've not yet read that one, but I'm certain it will be my favorite.

Until then, there's always this version (just released) -


Anonymous said...

"Anyone familiar with Austen will know that 'vulgar' means of a low social class and 'dirt' is mud."

That seem to be quite useless notes, yes. And yet, this just looks so beautiful.

Bellezza said...

I'm having such a hard time with Northanger Abbey which I chose for The Classics Circuit read this month. Argh! Catherine is so annoying to me right now! Just thought I'd vent a bit here, as you'd probably have some insight to change my mind. :)

Anbolyn said...

It's never been a mystery to me of why Marianne would be crazy about Willoughby and cold toward Brandon. Willoughby is that charming, sexy, player who many of us are drawn to when we're young(and even when we're not ;)

Anonymous said...

I don't think I'd enjoy an annotated edition as much. It would be like studying the book instead of just experiencing it. I love that S&S scene you mention, or, I love everything about S&S, in other words. :D

potterjotter said...

Hmmm. I knew Willoughby was a wrong 'un from the start. Way too full of himself for my liking. Sounds like an interesting book - will put on my Christmas list (can't believe I mentioned the C word in May!!)

Anonymous said...

What a tempting edition this appears to be. Hmmm, how can I justify breaking my book diet?

I am just catching up on posts and will be interested in your review of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, one of my all time favorite reads, having first read it in high school, then as a college student, then an adult.

lyn said...

I was lucky enough to have been given the annotated P&P. I wouldn't have bought it otherwise as I have several copies of P&P already. I really must reread S&S for the 200th anniversary. You've inspired me with the memory of that wonderful chapter where Willoughby & Elinor talk so intimately.

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading this as well. I'm not sure that I'd have the stamina for the annotated version though.
I'm not a gushing Austen fan - but she is growing on me.

GirlsWannaRead said...

Ah, S&S! My first read of the summer just had to be Austen. I doubt it would be wise for me to buy this edition, as I have several copies already!

Penny said...

I'm re-reading S&S on my Kindle and loving it all over again. I liked Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon, but now I'm picturing David Morrissey, from the serial...

I swithered about splashing out on the Annotated P&P for my daughter's birthday (anothe JA addict!), but when I read the reviews and saw what you said, I decided against it. When you're used to readig the classsics, you don't really need to be given such basic information. Pity! It looks lovely... But it saved me £25!

Vintage Reading said...

Sunday, I often wish an undiscovered Austen novel would re-surface. 6 complete novels is just not enought!

Steph, I have to say I find the annotations in P&P a bit distracting - I know what trimming a bonnet means! I await your take on re-reading S&S!

Jillian, I'm enjoying the beauty of the book and it has a good introduction but the annotations are distracting me from the text. Didn't know there was an annotated S&S, thanks for the link will check it out.

Iris, I feel the notes would be useful for students new to Austen, but for those of us who know a little of her life a lot of them are redundant - I feel I'm being a little unfair, but as yet I've not learned a lot!

Bellezza, aw I'm sorry you are not getting on with NA. I find Isabella annoying but not so much Catherine. I have to say NA is probably my least-loved Austen - I like the defence of the novel which you will come to if you stick with it - please let me know how you get on!

Anbolyn, ah yes we've all had a Willoughby in our lives! (blush) I don't think Marianne deserves Colonel B!!

kissacloud, yes, I'm not enjoying it as much as I hoped. Oh, I love S&S too - a perfect novel!

potterjotter, there are too many Willoughby's in this world!

lifeonthecuff, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn seems to have touched so many people's lives and Francie is a wonderful creation yet Betty Smith seems almost forgotten as a writer.

Lyn, re-reading S&S this year was like returning to an old friend. I'd forgotten how good it is. I hope you enjoy your re-read and post on it.

everybookandcranny - it all starts with her growing on you - a slippery slope!!

girlswannaread - an excellent choice for summer reading - I will look out for your review.

Penny, I think that's it - if you know a little of Austen's life and times you really don't need too many notes. That, said it is a beautiful book. S&S is fabulous isn't it?

Elaine said...

Much as I love S&S most of the time I really want to give Marianne a good slap! Of course in the film, Alan Rickman as Brandon means she ends up with a prize, but in the book she ends up with a middle aged man who wears flannel waistcoats which is what Jane thinks she deserves. And I agree!