07 February 2010

Review: Pride and Prejudice

Take another "Why have I not read this?" book off of my list, and mark it as a resounding success. I finally got around to reading Jane Austen's seminal classic Pride and Prejudice. It was absolutely phenomenal, and I'm glad that Victoria prevailed upon me to read it.

I'm not really sure how much can be said about this book, though. I certainly have nothing profound to offer to the discourse of one of the most popular and written-about books of all time. But I do have a few minor observations from my read.
  • Charlotte, Elizabeth's best friend, has a rather amusing observation about the amount of affection ladies should show to men in order to get the point across:
    "In nine cases out of ten a woman had better show MORE affection than she feels. Bingley likes your sister undoubtedly; but he may never do more than like her, if she does not help him on."
    We men have the stunning ability to be quite dense about these things. When it can be painfully obvious to the word that someone likes us, we'll hem and haw until the opportunity has passed. Austen (through Charlotte) has absolutely nailed it here.
  • Austen has an absolutely superb wit, and a really graceful way with words. For instance, we might say "Because Bingley's sister was insincere to Jane, Elizabeth disliked her." Austen gives us:
    "their indifference towards Jane when not immediately before them restored Elizabeth to the enjoyment of all her former dislike."
    Elizabeth relishes disliking these people, and as a reader, I certainly did too. I'm glad that Austen didn't try to make contempt seem bad, because in many cases it's warranted.
  • Another word for the ladies, from Mr. Darcy:
    "All this she must possess," added Mr. Darcy, "and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading."
    Spot on Mr. Darcy.
  • Mr. Bennet is one of the best characters I've read in a while.
  • Wickham really struck me as being quite similar to Alfred Jingle in The Pickwick Papers. I wonder if Dickens was reading much of Austen's work?
  • Finally, Elizabeth gives Mr. Darcy some of the best advice I've read in ages:
    "You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure."
If you haven't read Pride and Prejudice, go out and get a copy post haste. It's really fantastic, and quite shameful that it took me 24 years to get to it.

1 comment: