Not the Usual Monday Musings

Sense and sensibility book covers

Printed and eBooks for Jane Austen’s Sense and sensibility

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.

9 thoughts on “Not the Usual Monday Musings

  1. You’re right, WG, this is a fabulous ad, making me, among other things, long for those beautiful editions first or not with their sensuous leather covers and gold trim on the paper-thin pages! And the size, just right for resting on a palm. I remember first reading Austen in a book like that. Pity I didn’t treasure it more at the time, never dreaming that such objects would be replaced by hulking big trade paperbacks that are only produced that way for the purposes of marketing. I was thinking of writing a Charlotte blog about book sizes because of this. Maybe you could do it better. As for your latest comment on mine I haven’t dared respond directly because every time I’ve tried I’ve lost my deathless prose with each attempt. Have obviously yet to master the technology. Looks to me that WordPress and Blogger are incompatible in the way that Windows and Mac OS once were. But would like to express my appreciation to you for expanding the concept further. But also to posit that we may be both saying the same thing but coming from different angles. War has often the element of scarcity of resources in it, and as a consequence the struggle for control of them. But as long as we are part of the natural world we may be (unconsciously as you say) solving the problem by reducing the pressure on the environment and thereby eliminating the scarcity. As said in my post, there is of course a better way.

    • Thanks Sara. I love your comment about those lovely old editions, though I don’t mind the trade paperbacks – particularly those that have nice large clear print and that flop open easily on the table. They are a little awkward to hold in the hand, I have to agree. I reckon you should write a post on the Charlotte blog and then I could comment!

      Thanks for responding to my comment on your blog. I’m sorry that you had trouble getting your prose to stick. As you are a “blogger” blogger commenting on your own blog, that shouldn’t happen! I’m glad you didn’t mind my contribution. And, of course, I agree with your better way. Education – paying particular care to educate women – is such a “simple” solution to many of the world’s ills. (And this makes me think of Malala Yousafzai and her campaign. What a brave, passionate and articulate young woman she is.)

      Oh, and I’ll fix the “gold”.

  2. This is so lyrically written! Than you for sharing this WG. You are extraordinary in the beautiful writing you find and the beautiful way in which you introduce/analyse it!

    • Why thank you Jim … as I’m sure you can tell, I get a kick out of these little things that I find or that come my way and love the fact that there are people like you who enjoy them too.

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