"Talk to women, talk to women as much as you can. This is the best school. This is the way to gain fluency, because you need not care what you say, and had better not be sensible. They, too, will rally you on many points, and as they are women you will not be offended. Nothing is of so much importance and of so much use to a young man entering life as to be well criticised by women."

Sensible means to be reasonable, thoughtful, cautious, practical. Or of a statement or course of action) chosen in accordance with wisdom or prudence; likely to be of benefit.

Would it mean that if acting foolish and idiotic in a thoughtful way (on purpose), you'll be able to understand the boundaries and gain the fluency required in speaking to women. In a sense, what you learn and the experiences gained from acting foolish will prove invaluable long-term.

Am I correct? Can someone pass their thoughts?

  • I don't think that he's recommending outright foolishness, but just advising against trying to win arguments with women (even if you ever could). (parenthetical thought added using my own experience) – Papa Poule Dec 10 '14 at 16:56
  • Not real sure, but if you click "edit" yourself you'll see "Edited to add 1 character," which means not much was done. There's also probably a way to see a side by side comparison of all the edits made so far, but I don't know how. It's a bad answer, I know, but maybe just read the new version and see if it still says what you want. sorry not much help – Papa Poule Dec 10 '14 at 17:04
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The meaning of sensible has changed over time. Here's an analysis of the title of Jane Austen's novel Sense and Sensibility from schmoop.com

... the traits included in the title describe these two main characters to a tee. Elinor embodies "sense" completely; she's practical, intellectual, and logical in all things. Her younger sister Marianne, however, is "sensibility" all the way.

Here, we have to remember that "sensible" didn't always mean what it means to us today. We generally think of "sensibility" as basically being practicality, but back in the day, it actually meant kind of the opposite. In Austen's time, "sensibility" was closer to what we'd call "sensitivity." Marianne is totally emotional, sensitive, and wrapped up in her feelings (especially when they're romantic ones), and thus is the incarnation of Austenian "sensibility." The challenge at the heart of the novel is for "sense" and "sensibility" to cooperate, and for the sisters to find a meeting point between reason and emotion.

So Disraeli is saying that a young man need not be sensitive to what women say, ie not offended or embarrassed or feel belittled.

  • Just to add to that, sensible is a French word, and in French it retains its meaning of sensitive. – dangph May 29 '17 at 2:05

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