Jane Austin is an author I have only met once or twice before. She bored me the first time around, and it has taken me awhile to find the right footing on this latest meeting. The omnibus collection I’ve gotten myself into begins with Sense and Sensibility.
At first I was not impressed. I was against the author for dealing solely in world of the affluent, and for ignoring completely the world at large. It is true that the Dashwoods are not the most affluent in their world, but they are comfortably secure in their income, and their prime concern is whether or not the unmarried and eligible among them will soon be married, and of course to whom.
When I first dove into the pages I thought, If I were to name this novel back in the day I would call it ‘First World Problems: The Movie,” thankfully I didn’t name the novel, and thankfully I didn’t let my bias ruin the novel outright. It took some commitment on my part to let the story unfold before me.
Austin’s style is difficult for me because her narrator reduces complex actions to dull and ambiguous description, like for example when she writes, “The morning was rather favourable, though it had rained all night, as the cloud were then dispersing across the sky, and the sun frequently appeared” when describing a day at the park. You see I’m use to deeper descriptions, and a little more active too, but once you get use to it you can allow your imagination to take up the slack.
My objections were considerable, and then I met her characters in dialogue!
Here you catch a glimpse of Marianne, the youngest of the Dashwood women, and you can see that Austin loves her characters. Here Marianne is doing what she always does, caring a great deal about a thing that no one else would, and she’s quite a hipster about it too in a more modern sense as she’s pretty much saying, “Oh, that’s so unoriginal!”
This is where I start to not just appreciate, but enjoy the book. There are modern themes in here, there is so much comedy in here also. Austin doesn’t agree with any of her characters wholly, instead she’s fitted a quality to them and set them against each other. Every character in here has a foil, and every foil runs into her or his other half frequently, and often their interactions are fucking hilarious.
The last thing I will share with you is this. Sometimes my brain works fast, and it can see things quickly and clearly… other times it works more slowly. This is a case where my brain was lagging. I have only now begun to understand the title Sense and Sensibility. Marianne and Willoughby are Sensibility, because they are driven by their sensibilities or personal tastes, aesthetics, and moods. Conversely, Elinor and Brandon are Sense. They are more mature in the way the perceive and process the world, they move slower than the other two, but more steadily and less erratic. Together these foils are Sense and Sensibility. If I were a smarter man I would have seen that instantly, but I wasn’t even looking. Turns out I have a lot to learn from Austin.