Monday, June 13, 2011

Pride and Prejudice

So I recently read my first ever Jane Austen. I'm not sure I've ever had a terrible resistence to reading miss Austen, other than my general reluctance to read the classics, which is that they can be harder to work to read thanks to the language. Still, I had been told I would enjoy some Austen, so I gave it a try.

All in all? Pretty good, but it does suffer (for me) from the time it was written in. Its a very arch writing style, and its pretty clear that Austen likes some of her characters, and frankly despises some of the others. The style of writing is different to what I'm used to, and takes some getting used to: Austen will frequently describe dialogues which have occured ("Miss Bennet described her feelings on the subject as briefly as possible" for instance) rather than explicitly detailing them, which gives a detached feeling to the book initially. Indeed, while the book is generally amusing from the get go, I didn't really feel an emotional attachment for a while, until its quite clear that Elizabeth Bennet is very fond of her sister Jane, and walks (3 miles!) to visit her when she is ill. Once theres emotional hooks the story, unsurprisingly, becomes more effective, and while you are fairly aware of whats coming, its still satisfying to see it realised.

Theres some things I didn't like. I think for the most part we are meant to agree with Elizabeth, other than her mistaken impressions on certain characters, but I found myself generally disagreeing. The book details a genuinely unpleasent form of society, filled with the idle rich who have nothing to do but to romance each other and worry about their status in life. Frustratingly, while it was impossible for women to earn a fortune at such time, even men are obsessed with finding money via marriage rather than through actually going out and earning it.

(some spoilers now!)

Worse yet for me was the section with Lydia and Mr Wickham. This dates the novel, because frankly if a man in his twenties ran off with a 16 year old girl these days the family wouldn't be happy to see them married, they'd be happy to see the man put in jail, regardless of what the silly young girl might think on it. While I appreciate that that was how the world was in those days, its a rather depressing end, where part of me was hoping that someone was just going to stab Wickham in the face. Theres even a slight notion of Lydia getting what she deserves towards the end.

Still, all in all I had a lot of fun with Pride and Prejudice, and imagine I will take some time to read Austen's other novels.

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