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Welcome to The Once Lost Wanderer. The name is derived from two poems: Amazing Grace by reformed slave trader John Newton, and All That is Gold Does Not Glitter by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (68 down, 32 to go)

Pride and Prejudice by 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. ~ Opening line

This is the first time I’ve read Pride and Prejudice and the second work I’ve read by Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice is a third person narrative, Romantic era novel. It tells the story of the Bennet family, early 19th century England, and particularly of the two eldest daughters, Jane and Elizabeth. It is considered part of the Western Canon of literature.

This novel satisfies category one: A 19th Century Classic, from the Back to the Classics Challenge 2016.

My rating: 4 1/2 stars




In short, I loved it.

Mr. Bennet, is an English gentleman whose estate is irrevocably entailed to his nearest surviving male relative. As Mr. Bennet has only daughters, five in all, the estate is to be settled on his nephew, Mr. Collins. But as I said, the story is mostly about Jane and Elizabeth (Lizzy). More precisely, Lizzy is the main character, while Jane, her dearest friend and confidante is only slightly less significant. Lizzy is the favorite of her father, and the least favorite of her mother. Both are fond of Jane. Mr. Bennet believes his three youngest, Catherine (Kitty), Mary and Lydia are simple and silly, much like his wife.

Although I liked Emma, my previous experience with Austen, Pride and Prejudice was far superior. Having read two Austen novels, I am now an expert. They go something like this.

Among a crowd of laughable and likeable characters, emerge two people perfectly suited for each other, but maddeningly blind to it themselves. Fate or circumstance, gradually bring the two slowly together, but when they finally overcome their own prejudices, they are prevented from obstacles of rank, duty, convention, or familial responsibility.

Don’t mistake my glib description as criticism. It is not. It is a time honored motif, employed in many eras, by many great writers, producing many superb tales. It works well, but it requires a writer of some craft. In this instance, Austen approached genius.

None of the Bennet girls have much hope in society other than to marry well. This is not at all hopeless as Jane and Elizabeth at least, are considered great beauties. When Mr. Collins comes to call, already heir to the estate, he clearly intends to improve his position by winning the hand of one of his cousins. He first sets his sights on Jane, but learns that she has an admirer and quickly adjusts his interest to Lizzy. If ever there was a terrible match, it would be Mr. Collins and Lizzy. He is pompous and officious, whereas Lizzy is intelligent, witty, discerning and sincere. Mr. Collins cannot conceive that any woman would refuse him, and Lizzy cannot imagine any would have him.

Bit more on Mr. Collins: he never reads novels. Who could like such a man?

Enter Mr. Darcy: extremely wealthy, tall and handsome, but aloof and proud. And the time honored motif is set, but as I’ve implied, Austen does an extraordinary job of confounding what the reader so desperately believes must happen.

Bravo!

His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes. It was an union that must have been to the advantage of both; by her ease and liveliness his mind might have been softened, his manners improved, and from his judgment, information, and knowledge of the world, she must have received benefit of greater importance.

Film Rendition: I’ve only seen the 1995 A&E mini-series, starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. I thought it was an excellent portrayal and superbly cast. In the novel, Lizzy is often described as having fine or beautiful eyes and I’m not certain there’s an actress in Hollywood with such beautiful eyes as Jennifer Ehle.

16 comments:

  1. Ahh, I do want to read this again, but I have other Austen's I must read first.

    Do you think you'll ever see the 2005 film edition w/ Keira Knightly. I do like that one, too.

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    1. I might on your rec...but I'm pretty well biased in favor of Jennifer Ehle now. It'd be like watching Tom Cruise as Atticus Finch.

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  2. Yay! So glad you liked it! I agree with you on the motif and Austen with her sense of irony and humor makes ever the most cliche patterns, unique and FUN!! I love the 1995 BBC production! Completely agree with you on Jennifer Ehle!

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    1. Thanks...yeah, some reads are good, but not necessarily fun, but this was delightful.

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  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Her wit is endless and I'm impressed you tried another after reading Emma which is by far my least favorite.

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    1. Well I liked Emma, so it was not problem to try another...and then there's my whole Quest, and it's a title I have to read anyway. Unfortunately MP isn't in my top 100, so I won't be getting to that for a while.

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  4. Because the majority of people who've read P&P enjoyed it, I feel like an odd potato for not liking book. I reread it a couple weeks ago and was unable to complete it. I didn't like the dialogue. For some reason, I was unable to grasp it and that also makes me feel weird because I think it's the dialogue and characters that readers love. I also didn't like Elizabeth (it seems almost blasphemous to state that because everyone loves Lizzy). I prefer the film adaptations.
    And as annoying as Mrs. Bennet is, I liked her and sympathized with her efforts to marry off her daughters since that's the only way, it seems, they could have a good life.
    Yea, lol, I guess it's only Lady Catherine who can Mr. Collins for long.

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    1. Yep, nothing appeals to everyone. There are a few that I don't like that everyone seems to love.

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  5. I've read this book so many times! Though I have a personal fondness for Sense and Sensibility - that one's not generally considered her best, of course! I just finished re-reading Persuasion. Nice review!

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  6. Nice review. Glad you enjoyed the book it's one of my favorites

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  7. Loved your review! Such a sparklingly beautiful book, isn't it? It makes me laugh aloud with delight. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. to quote Ducky from Land Before Time...Yep, yep, yep.

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  8. YAY! I'm glad you liked this. :)

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    1. to quote Eeyore, thanks for noticing me.

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