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Next to the exhortation at the beginning of Moby-Dick, "Call me Ishmael," the first sentence of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice must be among the most quoted in literature. And certainly what Melville did for whaling Austen does for marriage--tracing the intricacies (not to mention the economics) of 19th-century British mating rituals with a sure hand and an unblinking eye. As usual, Austen trains her sights on a country village and a few families--in this case, the Bennets, the Philips, and the Lucases. Into their midst comes Mr. Bingley, a single man of good fortune, and his friend, Mr. Darcy, who is even richer. Mrs. Bennet, who married above her station, sees their arrival as an opportunity to marry off at least one of her five daughters. Bingley is complaisant and easily charmed by the eldest Bennet girl, Jane; Darcy, however, is harder to please. Put off by Mrs. Bennet's vulgarity and the untoward behavior of the three younger daughters, he is unable to see the true worth of the older girls, Jane and Elizabeth. His excessive pride offends Lizzy, who is more than willing to believe the worst that other people have to say of him; when George Wickham, a soldier stationed in the village, does indeed have a discreditable tale to tell, his words fall on fertile ground.
Having set up the central misunderstanding of the novel, Austen then brings in her cast of fascinating secondary characters: Mr. Collins, the sycophantic clergyman who aspires to Lizzy's hand but settles for her best friend, Charlotte, instead; Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Darcy's insufferably snobbish aunt; and the Gardiners, Jane and Elizabeth's low-born but noble-hearted aunt and uncle. Some of Austen's best comedy comes from mixing and matching these representatives of different classes and economic strata, demonstrating the hypocrisy at the heart of so many social interactions. And though the novel is rife with romantic misunderstandings, rejected proposals, disastrous elopements, and a requisite happy ending for those who deserve one, Austen never gets so carried away with the romance that she loses sight of the hard economic realities of 19th-century matrimonial maneuvering. Good marriages for penniless girls such as the Bennets are hard to come by, and even Lizzy, who comes to sincerely value Mr. Darcy, remarks when asked when she first began to love him: "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." She may be joking, but there's more than a little truth to her sentiment, as well. Jane Austen considered Elizabeth Bennet "as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print". Readers of Pride and Prejudice would be hard-pressed to disagree. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I would certainly recommend the book to any fan of Jane Austen especially someone interested in a better understanding the true English language.
Many years ago as a young girl I tried to read Jane Austen 's novels. I was too young to wade through them. Now as an old lady, I can't get enough. Just live them.Published 3 hours ago by Amazon Customer
I, thoroughly, enjoyed reading this English novel. I liked the way each character was woven in the story's plot. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Charlie R. Owens
I love Jane Austen's work and this is the familiar story we all love. I don't care for the format of the book with all the comments at the side of the text.Published 1 day ago by Roger W. Hawk
I very much liked the side notes! Some of them had me laughing out loud. This was not my first reading of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, but it was certainly my most... Read morePublished 2 days ago by PacaNun!
Yes, just okay. Fun to read, but I'm not exactly clamoring to read more Austen. I read some philosophy book (before reading Austen) that referred to Austen. I prefer Dickens.Published 2 days ago by Justin Wollenberg
This is one of the great classics of all time. Yes, it is old and the writing style is different than today's, but it is still a wonderful story! Read morePublished 2 days ago by Curtis Steward
Pride and Prejudice is a great book. Regretfully, this edition is a complete waste of time. The footnotes are either snarky or pointless, plus they have the effect on the text of... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Noneya