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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 alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B086XGX9JW
- Publisher : Delhi Open Books; 1st edition (April 8, 2020)
- Publication date : April 8, 2020
- Language : English
- File size : 1535 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 448 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : B09HG6KTGF
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #36,154 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on May 29, 2020
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Mr. Bennet has made a bad investment and so he has to let go most of the servants while he now labors to care for the estate and sewing is taken in by his wife and daughters. Elizabeth, after having met and enjoyed interacting with the triplets while staying at Netherfield and turning down an offer from Darcy to help care for them, now finds herself going back and accepting that offer due to the necessity to earn an income. Darcy's need will last until after Christmas when his governess will return to her position. Elizabeth becomes more like a member of the family in that she stays in a room near the triplets and eats with the family.
Little is explained about Darcy's wife until late in the tale. We learn she was a childhood friend, who like Elizabeth, found herself in financial need and whose father, on his deathbed, elicited a promise from Darcy that he would take care of Isabella. So, two friends married, and triplets filled the need for an heir.
I don't want to go into what else is discovered about that marriage and the triplets and how it now affects the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth. Colonel Fitzwilliam becomes involved as the matter takes on legal consequences and threatens the future of more than just one person.
This is one of those stories that draws you in. I highly recommend it although there is a need for some editing.
Like a sitcom of modern television, the delivery of romantic drama depends entirely upon our connection to the characters: no one remembers the plot lines of individual “Friends” episodes so much as the attachments developed with the characters over time. The whole of Elizabeth, from whose viewpoint we experience the plot of “Pride and Prejudice”, is dull in comparison to the depth of characters created by Austen’s peers. Examples of superior characterization include those in early Gothic literature like Ann Radcliffe’s “The Mysteries of Udolpho” (1793) or in American literature like Hannah Webster Foster’s “The Coquette” (1797). Elizabeth’s disposition bores against those of Shakespeare's female characters - I don’t need Elizabeth to kill herself to prove her love, but Austen leaves us with nothing but a walk in a park to the same end. Uncomplex, unchanging in nature, and poorly portrayed, her character creates no real emotional attachment to the reader, leaving the reader just distant enough to never emotionally invest themselves into the novel. By extension, the plot can be labeled with an equal degree of removal and distance, leaving the critical reader with a shallow and wholly unsatisfactory sense of experience. The plot - and by extension theme - are straightforward: politics and tradition must be navigated as young people discover romance. The depth of the complexity of that romance can certainly be argued, but I do not think a girl changing her “first impression” (the original title of the work) of a man to be much to get excited about. The mistaken first impression never really presents itself as a character flaw to be overcome, but rather ends up being justified as a wholly honest, logical, and (therefore) unflawed judgement.
Upon this end, Elizabeth is completely flat: she (as a character) possesses no “philosophical” complexities that imply any remarkable degree of enlightened thought outside of ideology in regards to marriage and other romantic topics. She certainly has a nature to imply that she could extend her logical personality to the world outside of romance, but Austen “condescends” only to represent Elizabeth’s logical nature in romantic situations. Elizabeth, then, becomes not a symbol of female intellectual empowerment but a symbol of the delusioned and inconsequential nature of intelligence possessed by women. A high regard for logic gives Elizabeth no real power, neither over her station in life nor over Darcy, and certainly not in the ability to attain anything more than the honour of being wife to a man whose own logical sensibilities grant him much in both real and subjective terms.
Darcy persuades Elizabeth, and as a consequence attempts to persuade the reader, that Elizabeth’s initial refusal of him causes him to change his character. But in reality, it does not, though Austen does everything she can to argue the contrary. Elizabeth’s frank refusal of him only convinces him that he can have power over Elizabeth by being less hidden about the character he already possesses. He too, then, has no innate flaws he must overcome to win her and undergoes no real character shifts besides being less hidden. Don’t get me wrong, I love Darcy - an introspective character who certainly had the possibility to be complex - but instead Austen shovels this “lifting of the mask” into our mouths with no real sense of plot to explain it. He may acknowledge the fact that he has flaws, but instead of being provided with the subtleties of these flaws, we are only left with little more than an archetypical character; if a man who comes to terms with his pride and station was new to literature, throw this response away, but otherwise Darcy is about as uncreatively represented as he could be.
“Pride and Prejudice” is only entertaining for its shallow drama and the resultant comedic episodes in reference to its setting in the “era of enlightenment”; the novel relates the basic ideology of enlightened thinkers questioning the arbitrary nature of social institutions. Austen never delves into these ideologies beyond the most basic and shallow interpretations of the principles of Voltaire and Kant (it would be worth pursuing how much of these men’s work she would have been familiar with). Austen does prove that she can poke fun at the illogical nature of the periods social structures, but she does it so subtly and rarely that the novel only reaches any real depth when presented with the witticisms of Mr. Bennet. Mr. Bennett, and no other character, made me laugh, made me think, or made me care. He, above all others, presents the readers with politics, familial duty, depth of philosophical discussion, witty observation, and real character complexity. He has flaws we can laugh at and identify with, attributes we can respect, and subtleties to get attached to; too bad we only get a mere glimpse, then, of his character! It’s as if intelligence pokes its way into the novel and goes back into hiding lest it offend anyone.
Jane and Bingley are base archetypes with so little interesting about them that they could be omitted and nothing significant about the novel would change. They may stand to contrast Elizabeth and Darcy, but its like contrasting grey with white: an empty canvas does not so much contrast a dull painting as make us appreciate that at least the painting isn’t nothing at all. I don’t think Mrs. Bennett can be omitted, though Austen certainly didn’t have to characterize her as so obviously the opposite to her husband, losing all subtly in place of absurd stupidity. Elizabeth’s three other sisters are so well ignored, it leads the reader to believe these characters not ‘worth the time.’ My guess is that Austen herself identified with Elizabeth and therefore is entirely self absorbed and absent in her depiction of Mary, who I thought was the only other character besides Darcy with potential. Kitty and Lydia represent the idiocracy that deserves no place in annals of literary history. They are the prime time television idiots who we love to laugh at for their drama and shallowness; the reader never has to think in regard to these characters. One dimensional, ‘silly’ in the most uncreative fashions, they are the cheap candy at the gas station; Austen never raises them to the true characters of passion these sisters ought to be, never to be decadent desserts of a master confectioner. Mr. Collins is perhaps the only character who is actually funny, in the outright sense of comedy (compared to the more subtle wit of Mr. Bennett), but where Austen had potential to make him controversial, he is clearly everyone’s enemy, an impossible character who could never really be seen as a criticism of the English church.
I must, then, ask myself why I rank Ang Lee’s “Sense and Sensibility” so high in terms of English film. I can only conclude, not having actually read the novel, that it is the complexities that Ang Lee and the cast bring to the characters that elevate it above the mediocrity of the novel. From this, one might conclude that the only kind of readers who could attribute any significance to “Pride and Prejudice” are those who possess the depth of romantic spirit and imagination to make Austen’s characters and plot have more complexity than the author writes into them. For instance, I love the English film “Love Actually” which requires a certain amount of life experience to truly appreciate the diverse frustrations of love expressed in a multitude of different forms; I can connect and enjoy some subplots of the film more than others, particularly the younger characters rather than older. The kind of readers who would find entertainment value (or historical value) of “Pride and Prejudice” are those who have experienced or have desired to experience that “thrill of being chased” and therefore have a connection with Elizabeth, placing upon the character their own complexities which the character herself lacks. As a man who has never experienced such emotion as to want be “chased,” “in waiting,” or (as Austen puts it) “out”, I have very little imagination to add to Elizabeth’s character. I could most definitely relate with Darcy if only Austen had taken the time to develop his character (how utterly disappointing!).
All in all, I cannot say I enjoyed this novel beyond the witticisms of Mr. Bennet. I found myself bored, distant, and unsympathetic, waiting for the next punch of subtle wit with such pretension that the novel was painful to finish. There was more plot and characterization in the denouement than the whole of the novel. I can only be glad that the device of the novel advanced itself beyond Austen’s limited and childish writing, although certainly my mother (being, like many older women, always searching for the lost romance of her youth) reads these kind of novels like she eats M&Ms. I for one do not care to waste my time on such shallow, “girlish” (in the most sexist interpretation of the term) literature but prefer instead for my characters to show me something new, to give me greater insight into the complexity of the mind and world. Instead, Austen has simplified the mind and dulled the world to the point of being accessible to even the most basic level of reader. Perhaps a fourteen year old girl will enjoy it, or a person who wishes to recapture (or has never ventured beyond) that period of life, but I, for one, did not.
By Havanna on September 8, 2022
Historical fiction written during contemporary times is one thing, but actual fiction from more than hundred years ago is quite another. Austen writes for an audience that would take conventions in clothing and the environment for granted, focusing instead of dialogue and mannerisms. So we're left with a kind of shallow, limited third person that doesn't feed readers who're used to a deeper point of view. So it helps immensely for folks like me, who honestly don't have a clue, to have watched that film. It gave me useful context. Don't be ashamed to watch the film before reading the novel.
I believe it does the book a disservice to evaluate it using contemporary standards. Authors these days have a deep well of literary conventions to draw from, so applying those to Austen will rob the book of much of its character. For me, P&P exists as a time capsule, offering a glimpse into particular cultural and social mores prevalent within English society at the time. We step into a world where characters are trapped by their status within society, and while it can be argued that many of Austen's characters are shallow (um, hello, Mr Collins much), I feel that Austen is taking stabs at society. And it makes me also realise how much society has changed, and what we, as women, take for granted in terms of our liberties and empowerment in contemporary times.
While I didn't gain the same sort of enjoyment from Pride and Prejudice as I would from the usual titles I'll slide onto my Kindle, I nonetheless walked away from this novel feeling as if I'd gained a better understanding as to why Regency-era stories have carved themselves such a beloved niche among readers. It's easy to loathe some of the characters, and at a glance, people like Mrs Bennett seem facile and annoying, but if you dig a little deeper, the social commentary becomes crystal clear. Sure, Mrs Bennett's obsession with marrying off her daughters seems exhausting, but if you understand her very real fears that she would not be able to care for them if they never got married – for there were no prospects for a woman in those days to have a career – then it's possible to be more sympathetic towards her. Despite each character having perceived privileges, they themselves are trapped by their social standing. And don't get me started on Mr Collins, and especially his appalling commentary when one of Elizabeth's sisters elopes.
It took me some time to get used to Austen's style, and now that I'm done with the novel, I also realise it's a story that begs being reread at some point. The beauty of the telling lies in what the characters have to say to each other, and how they respond to circumstances, and I feel on the first read through there were many subtleties that I may have missed.
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Pride and Prejudice is a masterpiece I first read when I was 15 , It was a battered copy I had picked up from a second hand shop. "Love at first line" is how I would describe it, and so began my love for classics. Now years later, I bought this beautiful vintage classics edition and read it for the upteenth time.
Mr. Bennet is the father of five daughters living on a modest income, he is married to Mrs. Bennet whose only goal in life is to get her daughters married . She finds her prayers answered when a young bachelor, a Mr. Bingley comes in their neighbourhood with his sisters and a friend Mr. Darcy and so the story begins.
This book made a big impact on me when I first read it, it deals with marriage for love vs money, class differences, self evolution of both the male and female protagonist.
The characters are written in a very realistic manner , Our heroine is flawed, prejudiced but strong. Elizabeth Bennet is no doormat, she will not marry for comfort and monetary gains but for love. Mr. Darcy had to be my first fictional crush, an epitome of the strong and silent men. Jane Austen immortalized both of them.
The book being published in 1813 is a bit difficult to read for anyone starting on classics but I would urge the reader to give the book some time and it would be worth it.
If you looking for a leather bound edition this is perfect and if it's not in stock, contact the seller and they'll surely help you out and they are very good!!
Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on October 29, 2018
If you looking for a leather bound edition this is perfect and if it's not in stock, contact the seller and they'll surely help you out and they are very good!!
I had a hard time reading this at first. So many new words entered my limited vocabulary after the first few chapters that it was impossible to not notice how frequently I needed the dictionary. The author clearly has a word for everything and is very poetic at times when describing emotions of the characters. The language and dialogues among the characters are so dramatic and eloquent. Plenty of uncommon synonyms were used in writing this story. There were parts in the book when I thought the author sat writing with a thesaurus, picking alternate synonyms, one after the other.
As anyone who has read about Jane Austen would know, she explored the lives of families in England during the times of gentry, the class of wealthy landlords and barons. She gives a detailed picture of what was expected of a fiancé at the time; how family, social connections and wealth was so important for a marriage alliance to be considered propriety in this book. Some of the expectations bore a striking resemblance to the customs that are associated with arranged marriages that prevail in India. I realize now that Indians probably got this from the British who colonized the place for nearly 200 years.
The story revolves around a girl in a family of 5 sisters, who belonged to what can be termed probably middle class of today. It takes us through how her feelings for a wealthy young man transforms from hate to admiration. The story also illustrates how prejudice can affect one's opinion and how pride can blind one.
I never imagined that I could enjoy reading anything but detective or science fiction but this one was really a pleasure to read. Thanks to the holiday season, I had plenty of time to read too. Looking forward to reading more of her works.
That said, the Kindle version that I purchased contains several mistakes which can only be atributed to it being an OCR scan. Some letters are wrong, letters are added or detracted. For example I just read "and" where instead it should be an "an". I am all but through with the book now and have encountered maybe 5 such scenarios. A pity as it detracts from the presentation.
But you cannot but love Jane Austen and the story of the characters she puts forth. The style and manners of the time period are almost inconceivable to be used in the present and the well formulated communications are all but foreign. The story makes for a lovely read.
For the Bennet family, with five daughters, and the family estate entailed so it is imperative that at least one or more of the girls makes a good match in the marriage market, so as to support the rest of the family when Mr Bennet dies, and Mrs Bennet is certainly set on doing all that she can to assist in this. Thus, when Mr Bingley rents a house so all the women with eligible daughters in the area make a bee-line straight for him, even more so when he is accompanied by Mr Darcy, who is even wealthier, and also single.
Of course, as we all know Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are the main stars of the book, but there are a number of memorable characters here such as Mrs Bennet, the nefarious George Wickham, and William Collins, who would marry any woman who says yes, to name but a few. Always a pleasure to read (as are all of Jane Austen’s novels) so this is a book that most of us have read numerous times in the past, and always come back to as it is such a good read.
It is rather ironic though that these days such a book as this is considered women’s fiction and for the ladies, because as those who know their social history will know, in the period Miss Austen wrote men were the biggest buyer and readers of books. The reason for this being that it was believed that women couldn’t cope with fiction that well, as their poor little brains were not usually able to differentiate between fact and fiction. With this in mind, and if like me you are male but have so far avoided this book, then please read it, there is so much to enjoy and think about here.