Monday, October 8, 2012
Book Review of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Author: Jane Austen
Type of book: 1800s, Regency, England, marriage, wealth, love, classical
Year it was published: 1813 (version I have 1961)
The romantic clash of two opinionated young people provides the sustaining theme of Pride and Prejudice. Vivacious Elizabeth Bennet is fascinated and repelled by the arrogant Mr. Darcy, whose condescending airs and acrid tongue have alienated her entire family. Their spirited courtship is conducted against a background of assembly-ball flirtations and drawing-room intrigues. Jane Austen's famous novel captures the affections of class-conscious 18th century English families with matrimonial aims and rivalries. Her people are universal; they live a truth beyond time, change, or caricature. George Eliot called Jane Austen "the greatest artist that has ever written," and Sir Walter Scott wrote of her work, "There is a truth of painting in her writings which always delights me."
Although the characters should have been lively, for me they were flat and not that interesting. Mr. Darcy had potential to be an interesting character but I didn't spend enough time with him. Elizabeth and others seemed to be tied by traditions thus their personalities didn't shine as much as I wanted them to. Probably now I am having a difficult time remembering why I liked that book so much in 2009 when I took the Jane Austen class. I think its because the book was meant to be read out loud to the group rather than on my own to myself. There are some books that are meant for solitary life, while there are others that are meant for others, and this is meant for others rather than solitary. Unfortunately the writing is overwhelming thus I'm barely aware of the personalities or the characters.
Love happens unexpectedly.
This is written in third person narrative primarily from Elizabeth's point of view, although a few times it did switch over to Mr. Darcy and perhaps few other characters. As mentioned earlier, the writing was overwhelming and it was obvious that the book had no editor or anything like that to make it understandable. I'm not insulting or trying to insult those who love Jane Austen but am simply attempting to convey my opinion to the multitude that loves the author as well as those who read my blog. It is also obvious that Ms. Austen didn't seem to possess the means of making the characters stand out. There is also dialogue there, but its barely there, and often I can't understand or grasp what is going on. The plot idea is novel however and interesting. I do wonder if Jane Austen is creator of it or if she took it from someone else.
Jane Austen was born on December 16th, 1775, in the village of Steventon, Hampshire, where her father was rector. She was the seventh child in a boisterous family of six boys and two girls. Reading and playacting were favorite family pastimes, and Austen began writing as a young girl. Her Juvenilia, writen between 1787 and 1795, survive in three notebooks and include Lady Susan, a short novel-in-letters. In 1796 she completed another epistolary novel called Elinor and Marianne, later revised to become Sense and Senbility. In 1797 she finished the first version of Pride and Prejudice, called "First Impressions". Northanger Abbey, the last of the early novels, was written in 1798 or 1799 as "Susan."
Until 1801, when her father retired and the family moved to Bath, Austen enjoyed a comfortable life, mixing in the best society in the neighborhood, keeping a carriage and a pair of horses, and attending dances at the stately homes of the local gentry. Neither she nor her sister Cassandra married, but the reasons for this remain conjectural, as Cassandra burned or censored Austen's surviving letters after her death. The eight years following the move from Steventon were evidently unsettled and unhappy ones. The Watsons, her only writing from this period, was never completed. But from 1809, when settled again in her beloved Hampshire, until her final illness in 1817, she lived a productive life in a pleasant cottage in Chawton provided by her wealthy brother Edward.
In 1811 Sense and Sensibility was published anonymously: the title page stated only that it was "by a lady." Immediately successful, this first novel was followed by Pride and Prejudice in 1813 and Mansfield Park in 1814. Emma, written between 1814 and 1815, was "respectfully dedicated" at royal command to George IV. In 1816, already in declining health, Austen wrote Persuasion and revised "Susan" into Northanger Abbey. Her last work, Sandition, was left unfinished at her death on July 18th, 1817. Austen's identity as an author was announced to the world posthumously by her favorite brother, Henry, who supervised the publication of Northanger Abbery and Persuasion in 1818.
When I took a Jane Austen class I enjoyed this book a great deal. But then I think it was after reading Evelina and back then I found Evelina boring. Now that I re-read it, I'm sorry to say that it's not special for me and isn't as sparkling or lively as I remember. The writing is very clunky and overshadowed the plot and characters. In the version I had there weren't explanatory notes or anything like that. Without the class I had a difficult time enjoying it as well as understanding what I found likable in the first place.
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)