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05 March 2016 @ 08:18 pm
thoughts on S&S  
Hmm… A recent Atlantic piece on the Emma Thompson and Ang Lee Sense and Sensibility, by literary critic Devoney Looser:

Sense and Sensibility and Jane Austen's Accidental Feminists

The changes Lee and Thompson made to Austen’s original story meant the title Sense and Sensibility no longer alluded to just the characteristics of its heroines. It now applied to the heroes as well, with Rickman and Grant’s characters proving men could combine a heightened emotional sensitivity (“sensibility”) with the traditionally masculine bedrock of clear-eyed rationality (“sense”).

What's maybe ironic about this quotation is that (as I'm sure you know) sensibility was absolutely a male characteristic as well as a female one in Austen's day; if Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon don't display it in the novel (snug farmhouses, etc. - although I think Brandon, with all his running off in the middle of parties and fighting duels, actually does display a fair amount; it's just that everyone forgets it because Marianne says that thing about his wearing a flannel waistcoat), it's because they serve as foils for Willoughby, who uses the idea of sensibility very much to his advantage to beguile Marianne. Austen always seems slightly skeptical of sensibility, from "Love and Freindship" ("run mad as often as you choose, but do not faint") all the way through Persuasion (where the most important question about Byron's poetry is how to pronounce the title of one of them, and Anne worries about letting the mournful Captain Benwick read too much poetry). It's worth thinking about the ways in which "masculinity" changed in order to make sensibility something that needed to be given to male characters in the film as something signaling the "new man," rather than argued against because it was commonplace.