Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, is a witty satire of the sentimental novel, a popular genre in Britain throughout the 1790s and the Regency. When it first appeared in 1811, the words in its title carried significant cultural weight beyond the confines of the novel, and into both popular and learned discourse. Through her dual heroines, Austen addresses, and satirizes, notions of sense and sensibility, and engages with the issues of inheritance, marriage, and love.
The story concerns two sisters: the level-headed Elinor and the passionate and impulsive Marianne. When their father dies, his son by a previous marriage assumes possession of the family home. Marianne and Elinor, left to the care of their mercenary brother John and his wife Fanny, must remove to a cottage with their mother. Each sister meets a man in whom she is interested, and as with other Austen novels, requited love does not come easily.
This newly annotated edition offers a thorough and perceptive introduction and a wide range of carefully selected contextual materials that further explore the term “sensibility.”
“The complexity and courage of Sense and Sensibility get their due in this wonderful new edition, which features an illuminating and sometimes surprising selection of contextual materials. Kathleen James-Cavan’s introduction provides a readable, trenchant account of the characteristically bold ways in which Austen went public as a woman novelist and negotiated the power of literary precedent.” — Deidre Lynch, University at Buffalo, State University of New York