Kamis, 09 Februari 2012

Review Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen

I can't say anything fascinating about Pride and Prejudice that hasn't already been said a thousand times. It is one of the best books I've ever read, if not the best. It is like a textbook on how to pace a story, which is a hard thing to do, for me at least. It is a perfect social comedy. The dialogue is both believable, natural-seeming, and yet ten million times more interesting, witty and articulate than anything real people say. The characters are so well-drawn, interesting, and deep that you get drawn into the story from the first page. Elizabeth Bennet is such a charming, funny, wonderful character - Jane Austen wrote, in a letter, about Elizabeth: "I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least I do not know..".

The first sentence is a masterpiece of tongue-in-cheek social commentary: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in posession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

One thing I love about Jane Austen is that she never takes herself seriously, yet she clearly loves her characters, even when they are behaving idiotically. She seems to have had a great eye for the ridiculous in people and society, but not a bitter, hateful one.

I've read many essays about the feminism of Jane Austen's writing; she clearly saw the desperation and despair of the social position of women: Unable to work, or even to inherit, they had to marry, and marry well, or live in poverty. And Jane Austen clearly saw women as intellectually equal to men. It must have been a frustrating, demeaning experience. Women probably were very lucky if they even liked the men they had to marry - Elizabeth came very close to being married off to the dorky, unbearably pompous Mr. Collilns - yet she ends up married very well, to Mr. Darcy, who she not only deeply loves, but appreciates very much for his fortune: She says, to her sister Jane, when Jane asks her how long Elizabeth has loved Mr. Darcy: "It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley."

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