I had not intended to ever write about Jane Austen on my blog. I want to read her novels, not think about what to write about them. But a recent event has thrown my reading progress and plans out of the window. My beloved grandmother has died. She was the best Oma one could have; she knitted all the socks and sent all the chocolate. When she called me “Liebchen,” I was forever 10 years old. How I will miss her!
With my slightly broken heart, I suddenly didn’t feel like reading the two books on my nightstand anymore. (The Book of Happiness is achingly beautiful, but despite its title rather sad.) I wanted to read something comforting, so I turned to Sense & Sensibility, which I haven’t read in several years. (Plus, it’s still Austen in August.) I am reading it slowly, to savor it. It is not my favorite Austen novel—Edward Ferrars cannot compare to Captain Wentworth and Elinor is sooo practical (and so like me). But they are old friends of mine, and they make me smile.
The book I’ve read previously, The Real Jane Austen, spoke a lot about Austen’s wit and her desire to set herself apart from the sentimental novels that were popular while she was writing. In Sense & Sensibility, we have two sisters who embody this difference. Elinor is a realist, and Marianne is sentimental to the extreme. Their exchanges are often quite funny, and I am enjoying the humor. I am not finished yet and don’t plan to speed up my reading. So here are a few quotes from the novel that have made me smile so far—samples of Austen’s wit.
“As a house, Barton Cottage, though small, was comfortable and compact, but as a cottage it was defective, for the building was regular, the roof was tiled, the window shutters were not painted green, nor were the walls covered with honeysuckles.”
“‘My protégé, as you call him, is a sensible man; and sense will always have attractions for me. Yes, Marianne, even in a man between thirty and forty. He has seen a great deal of the world; has been abroad; has read, and has a thinking mind. I have found him capable of giving me much information on various subjects, and he has always answered my inquiries with the readiness of good breeding and good nature.’ ‘That is to say,’ cried Marianne contemptuously, ‘he has told you that in the East Indies the climate is hot, and the mosquitos are troublesome.'”
‘I was at Norland about a month ago.’
‘And how does dear, dear Norland look?’ cried Marianne.
‘Dear, dear Norland,’ said Elinor, ‘probably looks much as it always does at this time of the year. The woods and walks thickly covered with dead leaves.’