Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors, and Pride and Prejudice is her most famous work.

The Annotated Pride and Prejudice

Therefore, it is natural that I would have some heavy expectations from this book. This was coupled by the fact that I read this book some 5-6 years ago, when I was in class 5 or 6, and obviously did not understand most of it (and even though I later read many Austen novels like Mansfield Park and Persuasion which convinced me of her genius, I somehow never read Pride and Prejudice again) and my view of the book was that it had become quite dated. Nevertheless, as part of my great classics read (and re-read) this book also came under the 'classics' section, so I picked it up.

I'm glad.

You see, if I look at this book on a superficial level I have nothing in common with Elizabeth (though she is, for her times, a remarkably forward and independent character) and I might not have been able to sympathize with her at all. On the outward level, the very values in this novel seem outdated and prudish. However, when we consider the underlying themes of this book - such as the theme of education (also a very strong theme in Mansfield Park), the theme of parenting, the theme of social barriers and the theme of trust and betrayal (among many others) we see that these issues haven't really changed. (In fact, these are things that I think will never change. Humans, as long as they live, are always going to wonder and have contrasting opinions about how children should be raised and educated, and jealousy and betrayal are always going to happen when there are three humans together.)

I think it is this which separates a 'classic' from an ordinary book.

Why is Austen's book remembered after so many years? It might indeed be the storyline - the instant dislike of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, his subsequent growing love for her, and her subsequent growing hatred of him (aided by Wickham), his winning her over by helping her sister, and their eventual love, but I think its more than that. It is that Austen describes some basic human emotions in a raw and beautiful way, and we are so taken in by that we are never going to stop liking this book (I have no doubt that all classics might be read less in the future, nonetheless, they will still remain classics and people like me will still read them).

The characters, of course, have a mighty part to play - proud, haughty Darcy (who has it in him to run half way across the country and do something he finds very humiliating for the woman he loves, and not even want to tell her), lively, laughing Elizabeth (who has it in her to diss a duchess) and even Jane and Bingley (who are, admittedly, both a little too good to be true - after all, Jane's primary fault is to not think anyone capable of bad, and Bingley's is to trust his best friend) steal away this story and take it to the level it has reached. Even Mary (Elizabeth's 'intellectual' sister, who made me smile several times) and Lydia (another of Elizabeth's sisters, and perhaps the most irritating character I have ever seen) Miss Bingley (who is in love with Mr. Darcy and who I found very, very interesting), Mr. Collins (who is so bad he's good), Mrs. Bennet (who is loud and without a particle of sense) and Georgina Darcy (sweet, shy, and quite well-characterized for the minimal page-space she gets) all have it in them to steal your heart.

The archaic language and odd structure may put you off, but if you have it in you to look a little deeper, I think you'll find a gem of a book.

Final thoughts: Some books you read from a library and then want to buy so you can keep them in your house. This is one of them. Exactly what you'd expect from Austen's most famous book. Read it for Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, read it for love, and read it because you must read this book once before you die. Of course, there are also the movies:
Pride and Prejudice (Restored Edition) Pride & Prejudice Bride and Prejudice

Other things: The Great Classics Read (and Re-Read) continues. Next I've picked up Sherlock Holmes(which I've never read before, surprisingly) and I'm enjoying it so far. Also on my list are, 'A Secret Garden', 'Frankenstein' and 'Wuthering Heights'. Of course, if you have a classic to add to this list, feel free to drop me a comment. :)

10 comments:

  1. Nice review. Very well done. All reviews are to be like this, which make one to take up the book. Very impressive. I will keep following your reviews

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  2. Wow Sakhi! I am glad you wrote a review for this book. I really want to go get it now. Thanks alot!

    Keep reading!

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  3. "Yay!" for Sherlock Holmes, my first ever novel :D Ya quite surprising you haven't read it before.

    Also,I'll wait for a review of 'Wuthering Heights' :)

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  4. interesting blog, i will visit ur blog very often, hope u go for this website to increase visitor.Happy Blogging!!!

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  5. Muddasir: Thanks so much for reading the blog, and I'm very glad you liked my review. Keep reading for more such reviews! :)

    Upasana: Thank you, and do read the book. Its really worth reading.

    Chaosisforever: Sherlock Holmes is quite interesting so far...I think I haven't read it because (like Agatha Christie) I always stayed away from mystery novels. Wuthering Heights is a book I'm looking forward to reading...

    Maria: Thanks a lot for reading, glad you liked it. :)

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  6. Come on, u can use my real name. Chaosisforever doesn't sound good somehow :D

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  7. Haha Pavan, I guess you're right. :)

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  8. I can't believe you had never read Pride and Prejudice before this. It has been one of my all time favorites (the one that can be re-read many times, and you identify with it differently each time). Wuthering Heights is also another classic that I really like, primarily because of its dark shades (I like the protagonists to actually have dark shades, I can't deal with all sweetness and pie)- I hope you like that one too.

    If you haven't read any Charles Dickens, I suggest you remedy that immediately (A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities). Other books that I have collected over the years include Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina and War and Peace, D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, the other Bronte sister (Charlotte's) Jane Eyre. I guess these should work to start off.

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  9. I did read Pride and Prejudice before, very long ago, but I discovered that I didn't remember a large part of the book. And I love dark shades in books - I loved wuthering heights, I loved Jane Eyre, and I've read some Charles Dickens (not all) and I want to read Tolstoy and D.H Lawrence.

    :)

    Thank you for the list, I'm definitely going to add it to my 'to-read' list.

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  10. I'm in love with that book.
    The most awesome chick-lit of its own time. :)
    It'll always hold a special place in my heart as it was the first Jane Austen book I had read.
    And you've also reviewed it so well, I feel like reading it all over again. :)
    hugs.. :)

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