Sunday, 2 December 2012
I blame Anbolyn and this lovely post for my inability to resist the new clothbound Penguin Classics editions of Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park . I do like the embossed covers and best of all Sense and Sensibility has the original Penguin introduction by that most perceptive of Austen critics Tony Tanner.
Talking of Austen critics The Sky Arts Book Show which seems to have been renamed Mariella's Book Show featured a highly enjoyable interview with John Mullan talking about his excellent book What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved. Much as I like Mariella (and I always like to check out what she is wearing!) she seemed a bit lukewarm about Austen. No accounting for taste I suppose.
I like the fact that Jane Austen is down-to-earth about money. In a letter to her brother she wrote of her pride in receiving royalties for Sense and Sensibility "I have now written myself into £250 and it only makes me long for more." She knew that women - particularly single women - needed money to survive and thrive.
The novel is dominated by money. Mrs Dashwood and her daughters are forced to live in reduced circumstances because of the selfishness of their brother and his appalling wife. Willoughby marries an heiress rather than Marianne to clear the debts caused by his extravagance. Mrs Dashwood continually imagines she can live beyond her income and her optimistic speech about her financial outlook is one of the most amusing in the novel.
"I could wish that the stairs were handsome. But one must not expect everything; though I suppose it would be no difficult matter to widen them. I shall see how much I am beforehand with the world in the spring, and we will plan our improvements accordingly." In the mean time, till all these alterations could be made from the savings of an income of five hundred a year by a woman who never saved in her life, they were wise enough to be contented with the house as it was ...
Jane Austen Sense and Sensibility,1811