Friday, 10 February 2012

Pride and Prejudice

There's a lot of walking in Pride and Prejudice, (published 1813)
Left -  a couple in morning walking dress 1818 and on the right, 1817

I promised myself at the beginning of the year that I would read all Jane Austen's six completed novels in 2012.  I have just finished Pride and Prejudice which I first read about forty years ago.  I had always believed my favourite Jane Austen novel to be Persuasion, but I am now completely taken with Pride and Prejudice.  I recently watched the adaptation with Colin Firth.  ( I usually avoid any film or TV adaptation before reading a book), and I'm impressed at the interpretation.  It didn't spoil the book for me at all, rather added to the excitment.

I can only think that many years ago in my early teens I couldn't appreciate some of the subtleties of the novel and I think that you do have to focus and on occasion re-read paragraphs, particularly the passages of narration to understand what is being conveyed in language that is beautiful, but more elaborate than we are now used to. 

There is real humour and frankness.  It tells a lot about the English and a lot about the class system and the place of women at the time.  Class and the role of women form the setting for the proud behaviour and
prejudicial beliefs which are gradually unravelled as feeling and good sense take over.

I rather love Mrs. Bennett, silly woman, and am rather cross with Mr. Bennett who brought it all on himself, then gave up, retired to his study and let his younger daughters run wild.

I've heard people complain that Jane Austen didn't write about the great national events taking place at the time and I know that Charlotte Bronte wrote disparagingly of the confinement of Jane Austen's characters in their elegant homes.  Fine, but not everyone lives on the moors and experiences wild, raging and deadly passions.  There are truths in Pride and Prejudice about the way us normal folk live and think.  And I defy anyone to read of the proud Mr Darcy and his slow realisation of love without knowing that however formal his expressions right to the end, something very dramatic has taken hold of him to make him defy his original prejudice.

Take a look at this link to see what the man about town (and country) would have been wearing.
Regency costume for gentlemen


lyndagrace said...

I have never read any of Austen's novels and have only seen the various adaptations of some of the stories on the big or little screen.
I have just finished reading "Death Comes to Pemberley" by P.D.James. Here is an excerpt of a synopsis of that book:

A rare meeting of literary genius: P. D. James, long among the most admired mystery writers of our time, draws the characters of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice into a tale of murder and emotional mayhem.

It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy’s magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Elizabeth’s sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; her father visits often; there is optimistic talk about the prospects of marriage for Darcy’s sister Georgiana. And preparations are under way for their much-anticipated annual autumn ball.

Then, on the eve of the ball, the patrician idyll is shattered. A coach careens up the drive carrying Lydia, Elizabeth’s disgraced sister, who with her husband, the very dubious Wickham, has been banned from Pemberley. She stumbles out of the carriage, hysterical, shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. With shocking suddenness, Pemberley is plunged into a frightening mystery.

Inspired by a lifelong passion for Austen, P. D. James masterfully re-creates the world of Pride and Prejudice, electrifying it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly crafted crime story, as only she can write it.

I think you would thoroughly enjoy the P.D. James novel, especially since you just finished reading Pride and Predjudice.

Your thoughtful review of Pride and Predjudice and the new novel "Death Comes to Pemberley" have both made me want to now read Pride and Predjudice.
Thank you.