Saturday, May 14, 2011

Review: The Annotated Sense and Sensibility

The Annotated Sense and SensibilityThe Annotated Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is always delightful to me to read (and re-read) Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility. This annotated version just added to and expanded on that delight. The extensive notes, illustrations, and maps explain much -- in language, in social behavior, in culture and in period of time -- that either no longer exists in the 21st century or has altered greatly over 200 years. Here, at last, I understand the ideas behind the "Cult of Sensibility". I know now the significance of the word "picturesque" so often invoked in the novel, and why it means much more in context and in that era than it means now -- which made many a bit of irony and comedy suddenly funny to me. Like the other edition in this series, it included a detailed chronology of the novel and an extensive bibliography of source material, making this a perfect edition for anyone taking a scholarly approach to Austen (or late 18th/early 19th century literature in general). As always, the format of text on the left side and notes on the right made for easy reading.

In short, this edition did exactly what good annotation does -- expand, illuminate, explain, and reveal. While I probably won't read this version exclusively when I reread the novel, I expect to revisit it periodically.

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