Friday, May 15, 2009

Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen. Novel.

New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1813.

Why read it? My favorite novel. I’ve read it five times and am in the process of reading it again, this time in an edition with detailed footnotes about everything in the novel and its times. The battle between Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet is classic, perhaps the story of all our loves. It’s Austen’s masterpiece. I think. Emma is a close second. However, I wouldn’t read Emma as often as I have read Pride and Prejudice. And the movie with Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier is an enjoyable adaptation of the novel. It is so good because it uses Jane Austen’s language from the book.

Sample quotes:

“It is a truth universally acknowledge, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” p. 3. ………. “The business of her [Mrs. Bennet’s ] life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.” p. 5. ………. “Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien; and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year.” p. 10.

Elizabeth: “I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.” p. 20. ………. “Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.” p. 20. ………. “When she is secure of him, there will be leisure for falling in love as much as she chooses.” p. 22.

Darcy: “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.” p. 27. ………. “[An accomplished woman] must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions…. Yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.” p. 39. ………. Elizabeth: “I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women; I rather wonder now at your knowing any.” p. 39.

“I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love.” p. 44. ………. Elizabeth: “…for you are really proud of your defects in writing, because you consider them as proceeding from a rapidity of thought and carelessness of execution, which if not estimable, you think at least highly interesting.” p. 49 .......... . Elizabeth: “…because he [Darcy] does not write with ease. He studies too much for words of four syllables.” p. 49. ………. Elizabeth: “The power of doing anything with quickness is always much prized by the possessor….” p. 49. ………. Elizabeth: “I am perfectly convinced…that Mr. Darcy has no defect. He owns it himself without disguise.” o. 57.

Comment: Well, you get the idea. A delightful novel. Jane Austen is a gem. Right up there with Shakespeare, except, as Virginia Woolf says, without his experience—because he is a man. What would Jane Austen have been like if she had had the experiences afforded to men? We’ll never know. RayS.

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