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|More on sensibility
Written by Line
(8/14/2003 8:46 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, GR: Very Good..., penned by Lynn Maureen
] ] I wonder whether the concept of sensibility -- quite a literary/philosophic issue back then -- at all connotes what we think of as "sensitivity." Having powerful feelings powerfully expressed (think Romantic poetry and music) is, I think, what is meant, not necessarily having tender or caring feelings for others. If this is the case (someone correct me if I'm off on this), then what JA is doing is not an ironical twist on the idea of 'feelings' but just pointing out by contrast the fallacy of sensibility in relation to other kinds of feelings. (We've probably all known people whose emotional reactions were intense and dramatic and yet tuned mainly to their own psyche.)
Yes, I do think that sensibility is a synonym for what we now call sensitivity, but with artistic appreciation thrown in. My edition of S&S contains an introduction by Margaret Drabble, and she says this about the "Sentimental Novel".
"It drew on Rousseau's immensely influential "Julie", and Goethe's much-imitated "Sorrows of Young Werther", and tended to elevate "feeling" over "reason". Its heroes and heroines were *virtuous* and *unselfish* (my emphasis) and much given to sudden passions, fits of weeping and fainting, and acts of wild generosity."
So,it seems that devotees of the cult of Sensibility certainly *valued* goodness and unselfishness, and I'm sure that Marianne does too. From what I can gather, the reason for these strong passions was supposed to be that you were *more* sensitive than most to beauty, to other people's feelings, etc., therefore your reactions would naturally be stronger. However, as we can tell from S&S, it doesn't necessarily always work that way in real life!
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