Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Reviews From an HBN (Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen)

No more procrastinating! It's time to prove those guys at the BBC wrong! The first book on their no-more-than-six list is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and as it happens that one is one of my favorites.

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

So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners--one of the most popular novels of all time--that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the "most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author's works," and Eudora Welty in the twntieth century described it as "irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be."


I picked this up years ago and haven't really put it down since then. My first taste of dear Aunt Jane was enough to get me hooked! I'm a huge fan of satire/irony/sarcasm (surprise, surprise), and this is packed to bursting with it. The banter between all the characters is witty, entertaining, and really engaging.

What surprised me the most was how accessible the story was. It was first published in the early nineteenth century, and it reads out like anything you'd find on a new release shelf today (minus the slang and with a lot more class). Perhaps it's its accessibility and continued relevance, in my opinion at least, that keeps people coming back to it over two hundred years later. Score for Miss Austen on her timelessness!

The characters have the same feel of timelessness as the rest of the book. You get the sense that you've known them for years, and I attribute that to how true-to-life they seem. Well, maybe not true-to-life per se, but they're not cookie-cutter characters either. They have personality and a universal quality to them: Who among us doesn't know someone with a little Lizzy or Darcy in them? That's my favorite part about rereading this; it's always like meeting up with old friends again.

I can't imagine that Miss Austen was too popular in social settings. She defied the typeset for women of her era and *gasp* she was intelligent! Every one of her novels is filled with her observations on society and mankind as a whole. She really grasped what makes us tick and what drives us to do the stupid things we do. She showed us exactly how ridiculous we are and made it fun to make fun of ourselves...by extension of a fictional character, of course.

Now if I could only see the BBC miniseries with Colin Firth...

Your humble book nerd,

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