San Francisco: The Arion Press, 2017. Augusta Talbot. The book is designed on the scale and in the spirit of novels from Jane Austen’s lifetime. The book is small octavo in format, 8 inches by 5 and 1/2 inches, 376 numbered pages. The type, printed by letterpress, is Bell, composed and cast in Monotype, with larger sizes handset, and Union Pearl handset for display. The paper is Mohawk Letterpress Text. The binding is Smyth-sewn with a full cloth cover and a leather label stamped with genuine gold. The book is presented in a slipcase. The ten prints are tipped onto the pages by hand. Edition for sale is three hundred numbered copies, signed by the artist. The price is $700. New. Item #CNAP111
This edition of "Sense and Sensibility" marks the 200th anniversary of the death of the revered English novelist Jane Austen. The first of her novels to be published, it was originally written in 1797, when the author was only 19, as a series of letters between the sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. It was retold as straight narrative for publication, anonymously and at her own expense, in 1811.
Its plot finds the young heroines turned out of their family estate by greedy relatives after their father dies. Suddenly without the securities of home, wealth, and position, the sisters struggle to rebuild their lives in a society ruled by money and class distinctions. The worldwide celebration of Jane Austen in 2017 is evidence of her relevance today and the astonishing range of her admirers, from academics who rank her with Shakespeare, to devotees of the endless output of theater, film, and TV adaptations. Austen’s audience swells with every decade.
In "Sense and Sensibility", we find the qualities that make this so: her delicious send-up of social climbers, her loveable comic characters, and the heroines who win us over with their developing wisdom and infectious love of life. Then there is what novelist and critic Diane Johnson calls "the special tool of her art," Jane Austen's style. "The witty precision of Austen's style," Johnson observes, "has entertained readers for nearly two hundred years without losing its freshness and power to delight, a testimony to her unparalleled genius and the capacities of the English language."
To illustrate the novel, we commissioned ten collages from the American painter and collage artist Augusta Talbot. Her pieces combine familiar representational depictions of Austen's characters with new imagery from sources both expected and unexpected. Fragments of the black and white Hugh Thomson line drawings from the 1896 Sense and Sensibility provide recognizable faces and torsos for Marianne, Elinor, Willoughby, Edward, Lucy Steele and other characters, while their postures and placement express a modern insight into how pressures, often of a financial nature, distort their behavior. The world around the characters - clothes, furniture, rooms, gardens, and landscapes - is composed from cut-out color images from botany, painting, and landscape architecture. In her manipulation of color and scale, Talbot writes, she wanted to create "spaces in which the characters are never quite comfortable".
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