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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.
This classic of the first rank is expertly performed in the audio book by Sharon Williams. Her voice characterizations are distinctive and she covers the text at a lively pace. Read morePublished 12 hours ago by Vincent
The print is so tiny in this edition that you need binoculars to read it.Published 13 hours ago by Laurie Shaw
Top of the line literature. It must be read by all who can read. There are two movies also. The old movie adheres to the book more. The new one is also very good. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Theodore Neros
I read it every few years for fun. Great writing and good historical information about old English society and classes.Published 2 days ago by cjh
My favorite book ever, obviously! I have read it so many times that now I just turn to favorite passages and reread them. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Lizzie Bennet
I tried this cd on 3 different units, including our Bose players. This cd wouldn't play on any of them. Too late to return (boo hiss). Read morePublished 2 days ago by Bostonian
Even after 200 hundreds, this book is very relevant. I had expected the language to be difficult; however, it was a very easy read. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Handy Man SD
I adore Pride and Prejudice, but this edition is totally non-readable on my Kindle. I can't even see the type except when it is actually in the process of loading the page. Read morePublished 3 days ago by E. Ensley
Reader for P&P made most characters sound like idiots. One cd in Emma has some sort of bubble in it, skipped several chapters. Persuasion was just fine.Published 3 days ago by KitKat