Penguin Classics Bicentenary Edition of Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen – A Review

Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Edition, by Jane Austen (Penguin Deluxe Classics 2011)For two hundred and one years readers have had the pleasure of reading Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility. For the bicentenary celebration last year, Penguin Classics issued this new edition with an introduction by Cathleen Schine (The Three Weissmanns of Westport) and cover illustration by Audrey Niffenegger (yes the author of The Time Travelers Wife is also an artist).

The cover shows us a tempest in a teacup. While I love the design, I’m not sure that it exactly mirrors the action in Sense and Sensibility. The phrase tempest in a teacup, or teapot, has a slightly derogatory implication, like making a mountain out of a molehill. I personally think that Austen’s drama is not puffed up and only her heroine Marianne Dashwood is exaggerated (on purpose) to show her overly romantic personality. But, that’s just me.

Elinor could not be surprised at their attachment. She only wished that it were less openly shewn; and once or twice did venture to suggest the propriety of some self-command to Marianne. But Marianne abhorred all concealment where no real disgrace could attend unreserve; and to aim at the restraint of sentiments which were not in themselves illaudable appeared to her not merely an unnecessary effort, but a disgraceful subjection of reason to common-place and mistaken notions. – Sense and Sensibility, Ch 11

For those who have not had the pleasure yet of reading Austen’s tale of two divergent sisters and their financial and romantic challenges, what are you waiting for? If you need further inducement or would like a refresher on the plot, characters and style, you can read my reviews of the print book, Naxos audio recording and four movie adaptations from 1971, 1981, 1995 and 2008 Episode One, Episode Two.

Make haste and purchase this lovely Penguin Classics Bicentenary Edition of Sense and Sensibility directly at the Penguin website.

5 out of 5 Stars

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

7 thoughts on “Penguin Classics Bicentenary Edition of Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen – A Review

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  1. Am I unfairly carry if I think maybe Niffenegger stick with writing as I don’t see how her tempest in a teacup has anything to do with S&S. Meow.


  2. I confess to being a fan of most film adaptations of Austen’s books, largely due to her plots, vivid characters and insight into society and family. But it’s her prose that trips me up incessantly. The same is true of my feelings for E.M. Forster. Still, I’ve slogged through one of my favorites, “Sense & Sensibility”, mainly to see if I missed anything. I practically ripped the book in half trying to decipher Austen’s occult and maddening description of the problematic inheritance that causes all the problems! I think I’ll stick to my favorite adaptation by Ang Lee and Emma Thompson, with the brilliant Kate Winslet and crew! But if anyone knows of a trimmed-down version of this novel, please let me know. I read “War and Peace” in one night, then compared it to Stendahl’s “The Red and the Black”, but “S&S” just made my head spin!


    1. Hi Vercetti2, have you tried an annotated edition of S&S? There are several out there that I buy them just to read the notes and annotation.

      Early nineteenth century prose can be challenging. The first time I read Pride and Prejudice I was baffled by some of the terms and phrasing. You are not alone. You do become accustomed to it after a a few chapters, and it does help tremendously if it is annotated.

      Here are three annotated editions I have found very helpful and enlightening:

      The Annotated Sense and Sensibility, by David M. Shapard

      Sense and Sensibility (The Jane Austen Bicentenary Library), by Jane Austen, annotated by Margaret C. Sullivan

      Sense and Sensibility–Annotated, with Commentary (Literature in Its Context), by Jane Austen, edited by Richard Fadem

      I hope this is helpful.


  3. I kind of like this cover…not because it’s particularly relevant to the plot or tone of the novel, but because I always like it when the covers of classics move away from the “serious painting, serious font” model. At least it’s different, you know?

    (It’s going to be dated in about half a second, though.)


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