Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility: A novel by Jane Austen (1775-1817), published in 1811. As in Pride and Prejudice, the title refers to two of the main characters: the sensible, quiet and dignified Elinor Dashwood, and her highly emotional and demonstrative sister, Marianne. ‘Sensibility’ is an 18th-century usage for ‘feeling’ or ‘sentiment.’

Miss Austen being, as you say, ‘without sentiment,’ without poetry, maybe is sensible (more real than true) but she cannot be great. Charlotte Bronte: letter to George Henry Lewes, 18 January 1848.

The film version (1995), directed by Ang Lee and with a screenplay by Emma Thompson (who also plays Elinor), was a surprise commercial hit.

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

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