This article presents the case that the perspective on taste set forth in Hugh Blair’s Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres significantly influenced Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility. Austen’s version of the Scots’s concepts—sense, sensibility, understanding, feeling, delicacy, correctness, and so forth—features the tendency in individuals of taste to favor either sense or sensibility, as well as the novelist’s decided tilt toward the former. Despite her inclination toward sense, however, Austen ultimately follows Blair in characterizing these faculties as complementary and cooperative, rather than competitive or oppositional. Just as Lectures provides potential insight into Sense and Sensibility, so, correspondingly, study of Austen’s novel provides a better understanding of Blair and his influence.

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