Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sense and Sensibility: via Stanza

I am the proud owner of a two-month old iPhone. We are getting along just fine, and she is enabling me to experiment with ebooks. I had toyed with getting a Kindle but put it off yet again when I got the iPhone and learned about an app called Stanza. Stanza enables you to read ebooks that are downloaded from here. Prices for books vary considerably, but the classics that I tend to read are very inexpensive. I had no qualms at paying $1.99 for Austen's Sense and Sensibility, though I already have at least two copies of the novel in my Austen bookcase.

I'm up to chapter four and I'm feeling okay but not thrilled with the experience. The novel itself is as good as ever, my eyes don't fatigue with reading the screen and the type is a fine size for me. Though I haven't tried to read more than a chapter at a time, so I'm not sure I've really put the fatigue issue to the test.

It's certainly nice having S&S with me at all times so that I can read it easily while waiting--I'm travelling this week, so I have opportunities to pass the time while waiting and Sudoku and Wordle were getting a bit tiresome. I haven't yet figured out how to earmark a page or a passage that I want to return to for whatever reason. Perhaps Stanza doesn't provide this capability--it certainly doesn't appear to. I'm not quite sure how I feel about not having the tactile feel for where I am in a chapter and book--midway through, almost through, barely started.

Now on to S&S, what strikes me most on this reading is how much of the early action takes place off-screen, so to speak. Edward arrives and he and Elinor take to each other before we barely have time to get to know Elinor at all. Mrs. Dashwood has them in love and practically engaged by the middle of chapter 3.

Austen really never gives her readers the chance to figure out that Edward is not available as we don't get to hear him directly before Mrs. D. has told us that he's in love with Elinor. I remember, the first time I read S&S, being as surprised as Elinor when Lucy told her that she and Edward were engaged. Reading it again, you can find clues, just as you can see the clues in Emma regarding Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax, but Mrs. Dashwood's matching Edward to Elinor so early in the book when our opinions of the characters are just forming gives us no chance at all. And Mrs. D. was right, of course, Edward did love Elinor, he just wasn't free to do so, honorably anyway.


  1. I was also shocked by Lucy and Edward's proposal the first time I read S&S. Since then, I've re-read it a few times, but I'm not sure I picked up any clues.
    I certainly see them in Emma, but .. Maybe it's just been too long since I last read it, and I can't remember clearly. What are the clues that you speak of?

  2. Tuesday - I'll try to post them as I go. I'm reading it slowly, though :)