The Classics Book Club(4 Posts)
Since my initial choice of book was rather scary, since it turns out reading of ghosts and ghouls puts all sorts of ideas in your mind. I thought I'd turn my attention to the classics.
I wondered if any fancied joining me in reading the classics out there. We can vote together on which book to read.
The first book I've chosen is Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austin.
Thus far it is rather amusing as the opening chapters after the death of the uncle, then Mr Norwood. The house, with 3 sisters and a step mother remaining, I believe the property to have been left to Mr. & Mrs. John Norwood. He promised his father he would look after his half sisters upon his Fathers death. Mrs. Norwood appears perturbed that their sons inheritance be spent (only in part) on John's half sisters and Step Mother.
What starts as a generous donation eventually becomes next to nothing, then removing them entirely from the house. His wife still not happy that the best china be left to her Step MIL, schemes a way so she acquires a more modest set, more in keeping of the dwelling they will inhabit.
You see it on AIBU, persons dying and the remaining parent remarrying or pursuing cohabitation, allowing the children to be concerned about their inheritance, of what was once a family home, wholly to be split between the children. Or spouses who have a husband or wife, left more than a sibling, the husband or wife feel compelled to make it more equal. The spouse feeling that they are more deserving of the larger sum, the money should definitely not be split. Think of our children the spouse chimes.
It shows that issues never change in the hundreds of years that pass.
Truly giving credence to the assertion that money is the root of all evil. With personalities changing when it comes to acquiring monies, or knowing persons who have acquired considerable sums.
Would be interesting to talk to others who have read this book or others who may be interested in reading classics. Seeing if they have any place in modern society.
Glad you posted this MissE!
Interesting that you say that issues of inheritance are still relevant today. I first read this book about 15 years ago, and I'd say it's a more relevant issue now than it was then, with so many people relying on an inheritance or parental support to buy a house and find security.
The flip-side is that there were so few options available to women at the time S&S is set. The idea of struggling genteelly on a tiny income being more respectable than finding work is quite alien today. I think that's one of the biggest shifts in mindset needed to feel comfortable with the novel for me - much more so than differences in language or manners - and it underpins all the events that follow.
I think that part of the success of Sense and Sensibility is the drawing of two flawed characters in the two sisters, but still leaving the reader able to empathise with both. There are times when I share Marianne's frustration at Eleanor's reserve and times when I feel that Marianne is horribly heedless of her sister's feelings. To answer MissE's las comment - I think books that deal with how people react to and relate to each other will always have a place in society.
When I was a teenager I fell in love with Pride and Prejudice because a big part of me wanted to BE Elizabeth Bennet. Sense and Sensibility is a book I've come to appreciate later for its characterisation. There's no nearly perfect heroine in it - though maybe MissE would disagree with me ;).
I love that scene in S&S, you get to know Mr and Mrs Norwood so well in just a few sentences, and I like how it echoes the scene in King Lear where Goneril and Regan discuss their father's retainers.
I'm reading Jane Austen and Food by Maggie Lane at the moment, and she has some interesting ideas about S&S.
I love JA and Food, Ada. I think I have a copy somewhere, though I haven't read it in years. It made me briefly obsessed with white soup and the mealtimes in various different JA households!
I can't remember much about what she says about S and S, though, apart from Colonel Brandon's mulberries, on which Mrs Jennings and Charlotte stuffed themselves, suggesting sexual fulfilment for Marianne.
Emma Thompson's adaptation must shock people who saw the (very good) film before reading the novel. Because she pretty much flips the novel into stoical Elinor needing to learn to release her iron self-control as well as the over-sensible and romantic Marianne having to learn sense, whereas in the novel, it's clear that Elinor is regarded as entirely correct in all she does, and has nothing to learn at all.
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