Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. 

That's probably one of the most famous opening sentences of a novel, along with Moby DickPride and Prejudice is also probably one of Jane Austen's most famous novels. certainly liked it much more than Northanger Abbey. It is the story of Elizabeth Bennet, who lives with five sisters, and an odd pair of parents at Longbourn. Her mother is constantly scheming about marrying off her daughters to wealthy young men, so when Netherfield Park is let to the rich Mr. Bingley, she is very excited indeed. (Mr. Bennet's estate will be entailed away from the immediate family upon his death, so at least one of the sisters has to marry well to provide for them.) And Mr. Bingley brings his very proud friend, Mr. Darcy. The book is about the courtships, and, of course, has many twists and turns. Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley, Mr. Wickham, and I suppose, the detestable Mr. Collins (who the estate will be entailed to) are the main men of the story.

I really loved this one; it had humor and wit in it, and great characters. I enjoyed Mr. Bennet and his sarcasm very much, though Mrs. Bennet and Lydia are really too silly sometimes. So stupid. And of course, Elizabeth. She is really a very smart and spirited young woman, who will not be ordered around. I also watched the 1995 TV series from BBC, and I must confess, Mr. Darcy...never mind.

Anyway, all the characters were well portrayed, and while the TV series is wonderful, it doesn't quite have the subtlety of the conversations in Pride and Prejudice itself. The TV series did have excellent casting though; all the Bennets, Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Collins were portrayed very well. (Yes, I suppose this is sort of a double review.) I would say though, that Caroline Bingley should have been a little prettier; she was just hideous, and Mr. Bingley was kind of silly-looking. But everywhere else, they did very well.

Back to the book. As I said, there were many twists and turns which made this one a thoroughly enjoyable read. And really great characters. Though she is certainly less descriptive and florid than Dickens, Austen still manages in this one, to portray everyone extremely well. Mr. Collins really is detestable, Bingley overly-cheerful and positive, and Darcy stiff and stern (though he has his reasons, of course.) Mrs. Bennet is an extremely foolish woman, as is Lydia, the youngest Bennet. The pride and prejudice of the story refer, I believe, to Mr. Darcy's pride and Elizabeth's prejudice (though it is certainly debatable.) Mr. Darcy is very proud indeed at the beginning of the story, and Elizabeth's prejudice prevents her from seeing his true character for a while.

I will just add that I read the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition from 2009, and while it has a very nice design, it does not have any analysis or introduction, so if you want that you'd be better off reading the Penguin Classics regular edition or Oxford World Classics.

Read Pride and Prejudice:
  • if you like Jane Austen
  • if you like British fiction
  • if you like romance 
339 pages (in my edition.)
Outstanding Book That Will Stay On My Bookshelf For Rereading (jf I own it)!

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