Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners—one of the most popular novels of all time—that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited cour...

Title:Pride and Prejudice
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Pride and Prejudice Reviews

  • Rolls

    "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen started off annoying me and ended up enchanting me. Up until about page one hundred I found this book vexing, frivolous and down right tedious. I now count myself as a convert to the Austen cult.

    I must confess I have been known to express an antipathy for anything written or set before 1900. I just cannot get down with corsets, outdoor plumbing and buggy rides. Whenever someone dips a quill into an inkwell my eyes glaze over. This is a shortcoming I readily

    "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen started off annoying me and ended up enchanting me. Up until about page one hundred I found this book vexing, frivolous and down right tedious. I now count myself as a convert to the Austen cult.

    I must confess I have been known to express an antipathy for anything written or set before 1900. I just cannot get down with corsets, outdoor plumbing and buggy rides. Whenever someone dips a quill into an inkwell my eyes glaze over. This is a shortcoming I readily own up to but have no desire to correct. So I admit to not starting this book with the highest of hopes. I did really enjoy Ang Lee's "Sense and Sensibility" however and so when my friend threw the gauntlet down I dutifully picked it up.

    Boy did I hate him at first. To get anywhere with this book one has to immerse oneself in the realities of life and marriage in the nineteenth century. At first all this talk of entailment and manners just left me cold. I liked the language to be sure. Austen's dialogue is delightful through out but dialogue alone (no matter how delicious) does not a great novel make.

    A hundred pages or so in though I started to see what a shrewd eye for character this Austen woman had. Mr. Collins was the first person I marvelled at. His character springs forth fully formed as a total but somehow loveable ass. From that point on I found much to love about this book. I was so into it by the end that I was laughing at some characters, sympathizing with others and clucking my tongue at an unhappy few. In short I was completely absorbed.

    In conclusion I must now count myself a fan of Miss Austen's novels (and not just their fim adaptations) and do so look forward to acqauinting myself with more of her work in the future. "Emma" anyone?

  • MacK

    Where my massive crush on Jane Austen began: alone, on a hot day in Montana, cursing her name.

    I had to read it for AP English and I could not see the point. Girls need to marry. Girls can't get married. Girls are sad. Girls get married. Girls are happy.

    I went to school to half heartedly discuss it and waffled and wavered in an effort to please my teacher. Finally she said: "was it good or not, Ben?"

    "No it wasn't."

    "Thank you...now read this twenty pages of literary criticism for homework."

    Twenty

    Where my massive crush on Jane Austen began: alone, on a hot day in Montana, cursing her name.

    I had to read it for AP English and I could not see the point. Girls need to marry. Girls can't get married. Girls are sad. Girls get married. Girls are happy.

    I went to school to half heartedly discuss it and waffled and wavered in an effort to please my teacher. Finally she said: "was it good or not, Ben?"

    "No it wasn't."

    "Thank you...now read this twenty pages of literary criticism for homework."

    Twenty pages of literary criticism later, I was hooked. Once you know what to look for, it's hilarious. Once you're keyed into the contextual life of women, you have to feel for the plight of the Bennet sisters, and laugh at the crudity of their mother and Mr. Collins.

    So yes: I'm a guy and I love Jane Austen. You got a problem with that? Huh? Huh? Do you? Huh??? Well if you do, I'll be over here nursing my dorkiness just waiting for a fight for the honor of my beloved Jane.

  • Anne

    Critics who consider Austen's works trivial because of their rigid, upper-class setting, wealthy characters, domestic, mannered plots and happy endings are almost totally disconnected from reality, as far as I can tell. What can they possibly expect an upper-middle class English woman to write about in 1813 but what she knows or can imagine? Sci-fi? A history of the American Revolution? A real-life exposé of underage exploitation in the garment district of London? Come on. What other setting can

    Critics who consider Austen's works trivial because of their rigid, upper-class setting, wealthy characters, domestic, mannered plots and happy endings are almost totally disconnected from reality, as far as I can tell. What can they possibly expect an upper-middle class English woman to write about in 1813 but what she knows or can imagine? Sci-fi? A history of the American Revolution? A real-life exposé of underage exploitation in the garment district of London? Come on. What other setting can she be expected to tackle with authority? Austen's value lies in her portraiture: her characters are believably human in their concerns, vanities, failings and quirks. The plots serve largely to showcase their interaction and thus, her observations of human nature, which are pointed, accurate, and hysterical.

    Here, in her best work (my opinion), her technical skill as a writer also shows in

    's tight plotting and economical casting; there are no superfluous characters or wasted chapters here. My college lit professor used to go on and on about this novel as a revolution of literary form in that dialogue drives the plot as much as exposition; I'll buy that but it doesn't thrill me for its own sake as much as it did her. It does mean, though, that

    is a relatively smooth and lively read, that we learn about events and characters as much from what they say to each other as from what Austen narrates to us. The banter between Darcy and Elizabeth isn't empty flirting, it's a progression, a chart of their ongoing understanding/misunderstanding and a way to take stock of plot developments as well as an enjoyable display of wit.

    Austen's heroines are famously caught between love and money are famously criticized for always getting both in the end. I've got no problem with this wish fulfillment. Keep in mind that being married is basically the only possible 'job' available to a woman of her position--marrying a rich dude is the only viable escape from the life of poor-relation dependency Austen herself lived, there's nothing reactionary or anti-feminist about it. The other option--becoming a governess--is barely respectable, putting a woman into an ambiguous class limbo of social invisibility that translates directly into a loss of safety and self-governance. Expecting Elizabeth to, what, become a doctor? is silly and anachronistic, and perhaps if that's your preference you'd be better off reading

    , with Ayla and her bearskin bra, or what have you.

    is simply a joy to read, a dance of manners and affection between the leads and a parade of human silliness in the supporting cast.

    It’s quite remarkably handsome, and sturdy, and useful for whacking spiders if you are that sort of person. Generously illustrated with color and black-and-white sketches, engravings, and reproductions of earlier editions, household objects, relevant artwork, contemporary cartoons, diagrams and fashion plates.

    My attention wandered during the editor’s introduction in what turned out to be a horribly familiar way. While I appreciated Spacks’s discussion of historical background, her warnings about the subtlety of language and characterization, and the dangers of identifying too much with our favorite characters because Austen stacks the deck for that purpose, etc etc, it was a sort of technical appreciation--dry, and a little bit soulless. I was, perhaps, impatient. At some point as I yanked my eyes back to the pages I kept trying to read, I realized: Spacks is a Professor Emerita at the University of Virginia--my former stomping grounds (wahoo-wa!) (...sorry, that happens)--it’s more than possible she was MY professor back in 19. I don’t remember her name or face, but certainly her style, the steel trap of her mind, and the mildly pushy feeling of her obsession with language all felt very very familiar. So, grain of salt: I may have some kind of baggage here.

    That said, this is a must-own for the serious P&P fan. As with any annotated edition, I wouldn’t recommend it for a first or even third reading of the book--these notes take up half-to-full pages, sometimes continuing to the next, and only if you’re already familiar with the text of the book itself can you spare attention to wander off down these other roads. Keep another straight copy of P&P around for when you just want to read the thing. Some footnotes are simple definitions, or style notes: some are mini-essays that include their own cited references. Spacks includes centuries of Austen scholarship in her notes, not just contemporaries, so points of view vary widely. There’s quite a smorgasbord of textual commentary to pick through, and you’re sure to find little tidbits that strike you as especially resonant or horrendously wrong and weird.

    Two tidbits I liked: first, a primary source. One note, in discussing the complicated British class system of the day, refers to a table constructed by one Patrick Colquhoun in his

    (2nd ed., London, 1815, pp 106-107)--a table which lays out exactly where, for instance, Darcy stands in relation to the Bennett family. He’s in the “second class,” they’re in the fourth. Clearly people put a lot of time and effort into codifying and arguing about societal structure, status and behavior, and I think that would be a fascinating thing to read.

    Another note I lingered over involves Mr. Collins, a character we love to hate. Here's the upside of an annotated edition: I’d never bothered to give Mr Collins much of my attention, since he’s icky--but Spacks points out the oddity of a snippet that I'd always ignored before. In bidding Elizabeth farewell from Hunsford, Mr Collins apologizes profusely for the humbleness of his style of living, as if he considered her socially above him--and this is a complete 180 from his incredibly condescending proposal of marriage earlier in the book, where he deigns to presume he’s taking a burden from her parents by opting to support her. Also, Spacks has a lot to say about Elizabeth's inconsistency and lack of generosity towards Charlotte Lucas--traits I'd noticed in past readings without following through to some of their logical conclusions and their connections with Elizabeth's later behavior.

    Definitely worth the purchase price! Add it to your collection, but don't make it your only copy, since it's hard to tuck under your pillow.

  • Elizabeth

    This book is quite possibly the most insipid novel I have ever read in my life. Why this book

    This book is quite possibly the most insipid novel I have ever read in my life. Why this book is so highly treasured by society is beyond me. It is 345 pages of nothing. The characters are like wispy shadows of something that could be interesting, the language that could be beautiful ends up becoming difficult to decipher and lead me more than once to skip over entire paragraphs because I became tired of having to stumble through them only to emerge unsatisfied, and the plot is non-existent, as though Austen one day decided she wanted to write a novel and began without having any idea what would happen except that there would be a boy and a girl who seemingly didn’t like each other but in the end got married. The story really probably could have been told in about 8 pages, but Austen makes us slog through 345 pages of mind-numbing balls and dinner-parties. I don’t care what anyone says, this is not great literature. This is a snore.

  • Troy

    I was forced to read this by my future wife.

    I was not, however, forced to give it 5 stars.

  • Hira
  • Stephen

    6.0 stars. Confession...this book gave me an

    and I am feeling a bit spent and vulnerable at the moment, so please bear with me. You see, I decided I wanted to get more literated by reading the "classicals" in between my steady flow of science fiction, mystery and horror. The question was where to begin.

    After sherlocking through my Easton Press collection, I started by pulling out my Dickens and reading

    which I thought was jaw-dropping AMAZO and

    6.0 stars. Confession...this book gave me an

    and I am feeling a bit spent and vulnerable at the moment, so please bear with me. You see, I decided I wanted to get more literated by reading the "classicals" in between my steady flow of science fiction, mystery and horror. The question was where to begin.

    After sherlocking through my Easton Press collection, I started by pulling out my Dickens and reading

    which I thought was jaw-dropping AMAZO and left me feeling warm, satisfied and content. It also made me made retrospectively pleased that I named my youngest daughter

    .

    After Two City “Tale”ing, I decided to give this book a whirl as I kept seeing it on GR lists of "goodest books ever." However, I must admit I was hesitant going in to this for two big reasons. One, I thought it might be a bit too romantical for me. The second, and much more distressing, reason was that

    was on many of the same lists as this book. Austen fans should pull a nutty over that one.

    So needless to say I went into this thinking I might hate it. Well, for the 999,987th time in my life (at least according to my wife’s records)...I was wrong!!! I absolutely loved this book and had a mammoth, raging heart-on for it from the opening scene at the breakfast table when Father Witty (Mr. Bennet) is giving sly sarcasm to Mrs. Mommie Put Upon. I literaphorically could not get enough of this story. I was instantly captivated by the characters and Elizabeth Bennet, the main protagonist, immediately became one of my all time favorite characters. Mr. Darcy joined that party as soon as he showed up in the narrative as I thought he was terrific as well.

    Overall, the writing could not have been better. It was descriptive, lush and brilliant. The story could not have been more engaging or intelligent and the characters could not have been more magnificentastic. Elizabeth and Fitz are both smart, witty, self-confident and good. Austen could not have written them better. Oh, and I am sorry if this is a bit of a minor spoiler but I need to add that George Wickham is a cock-blocking braggadouche of startling proportions. I needed to say that and now I feel better.

    This one has made it onto my list of

    novels and is truly one of the classics that lives up to its billing.

    ...Guys, do not fear the Austen...embrace the Austen...HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!

  • Richard Derus

    Well-loathed books I've re-read

    Rating: 4 very annoyed, crow-feathered stars out of five

    : No. Seriously. If your first language isn't English, or if you're like nine years old, you might not know the story. Note use of conditional.

    : All right. All right, dammit! I re-read the bloody thing. I gave it two stars before. I was wrong-headed and obtuse and testosterone poisoned. I refuse to give it five stars, though. Look, I've admitted I was wrong about how beautiful the writ

    Well-loathed books I've re-read

    Rating: 4 very annoyed, crow-feathered stars out of five

    : No. Seriously. If your first language isn't English, or if you're like nine years old, you might not know the story. Note use of conditional.

    : All right. All right, dammit! I re-read the bloody thing. I gave it two stars before. I was wrong-headed and obtuse and testosterone poisoned. I refuse to give it five stars, though. Look, I've admitted I was wrong about how beautiful the writing is, and how amusing the story is. Don't push.

    Stephen Sullivan, who rated this with six stars of five, is now on a summer travel break from Goodreads, so I can publish this admission: He was right. It is a wonderful book. I had to grow into it, much as I had to grow into my love for

    . But now that I'm here, I am a full-on fan.

    Deft is a word that seems to have been created for Austen. She writes deftly, she creates scenes deftly. She isn't, despite being prolix to a fault, at all heavy-handed or nineteenth-century-ish in her long, long, long descriptions. She is the anti-Dickens: Nothing slapdash or gimcrack or brummagem about her prose, oh nay nay nay. Words are deployed, not flung or splodged or simply wasted. The long, long, long sentences and paragraphs aren't meant to be speed-read, which is what most of us do now. They are meant to be savored, to be treated like Louis XIII cognac served in a cut-crystal snifter after a simple sole meunière served with

    and a perfect ripe peach for dessert.

    The romantic elements seem, at first blush, a wee tidge trite. And they are. Now. Why are they? Because, when Miss Jane first used them in

    , they worked brilliantly and they continue so to do unto this good day. Why? Because these are real feelings expressed in a real, genuine, heartfelt way, as constrained by the customs of the country and times. And isn't that, in the end, what makes reading books so delicious? I, a fat mean old man with no redeeming graces, a true ignorant lower-class lout of the twenty-first century, am in full contact with the mind, the heart, the emotional core of a lady of slender means born during the reign of George III.

    You tell me what, on the surface of this earth, is more astonishing, more astounding, more miraculous than that. Jane Austen and I Had A Moment. She's Had A Moment with literally millions of English-speakers for over 200 years. She's had moments with non-English speakers for more than a century. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are cultural furniture for a large percentage of the seven billion people on the planet. (Large here is a relative term. Less than one? Still amazing for a book 200 years old.)

    Reading is traveling in time, in space, but most importantly inside. Inside yourself, inside the characters' emotions, inside the author's head and heart. It is a voyage of discovery, whether you're reading some bizarro mess, Dan Brown's mess, religious tracts,

    , whatever. You-the-reader are going somewhere in a more intimate contact than you-the-reader have with any other being on the planet. Movies, TV, sex, none of them take you as deep into the essence of feeling and emotion as reading does. And no, snobs, it does NOT matter if it's well written, it matters that the book speaks to the reader. (Sometimes, of course, what one learns is how very shallow and vapid some people are...I'm lookin' at you, Ms. Fifty Shades.)

    So I thank that rotten, stinkin' Stephen-the-absent Sullivan, safe in the knowledge he won't see me admitting this, for reminding me to live up to my own goal of remaining open to change. I heard him yodeling his rapture, and I revisited the book, and I learned something valuable:

    Only admit you're wrong when the person you don't want to embarrass yourself in front of isn't around to see.

    This work is licensed under a

    .

  • Zoë

    THIS BOOK IS MY JAM. JANE AUSTEN IS MY JAM. I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT HER AND THIS BOOK. READ THIS BOOK. THAT IS ALL.

  • Hailey (HaileyinBookland)

    I finally did it!!!! And I loved it!!!!


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