Just for a change – and because I couldn’t resist it – I’m sharing an ad from ABE Books for a first edition 3-volume set of Jane Austen’s Sense and sensibility, which was first published in 1811. In case you are interested, the inventory number for the book is #ABE-11685473745.
I’m going to quote the ad in full on the assumption that this doesn’t break copyright. Surely one ad does not represent a significant portion of ABE Books’ intellectual content, and anyhow, as sellers, they presumably want their message to be out and about.
As the person who brought the ad to my attention said, this is a seller with attitude. Here goes:
3 vols. 1st edition, whispering in a voice quieter than decency, that the days that make us happy are the days that set us free. 19th century 3/4 morocco. A fine set, cleaner than fresh air, and it’s a complete one too with all 3 genuine half-titles, and though this 1st edition is regularly stalked by all collectors, it has a history of amplified appeal to those who are women, so heed this ladies: Buying a 1st edition of Sense and Sensibility without authentic half-titles is more dangerous than open-knife night at the blow fish bar, and more naïve than sexting your face and your kitty in the same picture. Ex-3 significant women collectors (bookplates) of élan who deserve snaps, Dorothy Stewart, Pamela Kingzett, and Sarah Peter, the last named of the 3, a modern goddess who gathered her 1st editions of fiction in English by women, 1 book at a time, and now stands tall with the greatest collection of them ever assembled. By anyone. Anywhere.
Austen invented modern romantic comedy beginning with Sense and Sensibility, and started schooling 7 generations of readers about the intricate convolutions of affection. What they learned from it right away is that all tests of love end badly, that excitement and familiarity are hard to find in one person, that the first duty of love is to listen, and that when the heart speaks, the mind should know it’s tacky to object. In the 20th century they came to understand that the only real proof of love is trust, that sometimes there are more differences within the genders than between them, that love must be transformed from the flame at first into the light that lasts, and that all men fall somewhere between apes and gods, and the best a wise woman can hope to do, is pick one that’s traveling in the right direction. Now we’re in the 21st century and a new generation of readers just balance Austen’s charm against the realities of daily life, appreciating that “desperate” is not a sexual preference, that the fastest way to improve a relationship is to see love as a verb rather than a feeling, and that a woman can find a blunt equality with men by going to therapy, where she can talk about herself for an hour, just like a guy on a date
Don’t you love this – particularly the ad writer’s understanding of what Austen was (is) about? I reckon Jane Austen would have.