BOOK 178: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY: JANE AUSTEN
Sense and Sensibility is a novel by Jane Austen, published in 1811. It was published anonymously; By A Lady appears on the cover page where the author's name might have been. It tells the story of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, both of age to marry.
The novel follows the young women to their new home with their widowed mother, a meagre cottage on the property of a distant relative, where they experience love, romance and heartbreak. The novel is set in southwest England, London and Sussex between 1792 and 1797.
The novel sold out its first print run of 750 copies in the middle of 1813, marking a success for its author, who then had a second print run later that year. The novel continued in publication throughout the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
Jane Austen wrote the first draft of the novel in the form of a novel-in-letters (epistolary form) sometime around 1795 when she was about 19 years old, and gave it the title Elinor and Marianne. She later changed the form to a narrative and the title to Sense and Sensibility.
Austen drew inspiration for Sense and Sensibility from other novels of the 1790s that treated similar themes, including Adam Stevenson's "Life and Love" (1785) which he had written about himself and a relationship that was not meant to be. Jane West's A Gossip's Story (1796), which features one sister full of rational sense and another sister of romantic, emotive sensibility, is considered to have been an inspiration as well. West’s romantic sister-heroine also shares her first name, Marianne, with Austen’s. There are further textual similarities, described in a modern edition of West's novel.
The book has been adapted for film and television a number of times, including a 1981 serial for TV directed by Rodney Bennett; a 1995 film adapted by Emma Thompson and directed by Ang Lee; a version in Tamil called Kandukondain Kandukondain, released in 2000, starring Ajith Kumar (Edward Ferrars), Tabu (Elinor), Aishwarya Rai; and a 2008 TV series on BBC adapted by Andrew Davies and directed by John Alexander.