Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In Praise of "Pride and Prejudice"

I just finished reading the final page of "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen and sadly closed my beloved copy of her book. As always after enjoying the company provided by an excellently written book, I know I will miss the entertainment it has provided me. In lieu of applauding the book in my own words, I offer you the first paragraph of its preface written by Frank Swinnerton:

"It is probable that no English novel written in the last hundred and fifty years has been as well loved, and so often re-read with delight, as 'Pride and Prejudice.' Other books surpass it in stormy grandeur; other novels by Jane Austen herself, richer in detail or more gracious in beauty, are sometimes preferred by her ardent admirers; but 'Pride and Prejudice' has a bloom, a laughing causiticity, and a quite specially familiar charm, which make it universally a favourite. It is like a merry sister in a family of attractive girls; and one never thinks of it without a smile."

"Pride and Prejudice" was written in 1796-1797. I can't say that the manner in which it is written is easy reading but any difficulty overcome is greatly rewarded. Since I do my reading in the evening when I'm definitely not in full possession of my mental faculties, I often had to go back and reread sentences in order to comprehend the intended message. Occasionally, I'd give up and simply go on without total comprehension. I understood enough to ensure that I cherished every page and couldn't wait for the certain delight of the next.

I highly recommend "Pride and Prejudice" and am certain that I will be taking it off the shelf again within a few years and spending splendid evenings with it open on my lap.

(If my attitude of writing seems more formal than usual, I attribute that to the hours I've spent reading this novel that is based on an entirely different place and time. I can't help but attempt to emulate Jane Austen's manner of writing. Fear not; the real me will undoubtedly soon return).


Anonymous said...

It's true that the style and content of our current reading material influences the way we in turn write and speak.

I'm so glad I'm not the only one that becomes a word chamelion.

So, what will you be reading next???

Lia said...

I'm not sure how many times I have read this now, a great book and one of my favorite reads. My daughter has read this, in fact I think it was one of her best friends when she was a teenager.

Wuthering Heights, that should be your next book.
The Importance of Being Earnst, I know not strictly a book as it is in fact a play, but it's a fine piece and makes you laugh.

Both are full of old fashioned English. I have never had a problem with the language that some writers use, but then look where i live lol.
No that's not the reason, it's because of my Granddad and his love of reading and as Nana couldn't read English, he would read out loud to her and I would be there at times. He gave me a love of Shakespeare as well, how lucky was I.
By the way, I just finished Wuthering Heights, that why I suggested it and it's another fav of mine
Much love


Shaddy said...

darksculptures: I picked up "Old School" by Tobias Wolff at the library today during my lunch break and have read a few pages. It's fiction and regards writers and writing so it was a no-brainer. I noticed it on a library table with other discussion group selections. I figured if the library was pushing it, it ought to be good.

Lia: After reading "Jane Eyre" and "Pride and Prejudice," I need to get away from old English literature for a spell. I will take your book suggestions to heart and turn to them soon. I'm sure I must have read "Wuthering Heights" sometime in the past, but I'm sure I'd enjoy it again.

You're very lucky to have been exposed to Shakespeare and the other books your grandfather read aloud. I would have loved experiences like that.

Gullible said...

Writers are natural mimics. Fear not your current form of speech. It harkens back three centuries to a more formal and dignified era. And, happy birthday.

Shaddy said...

Gully: That's good news because I very seldom read anything that I anticipate isn't well-written. And yet, that puts the pressure on me to always write well, but then that's not a bad thing either since I normally perform at my best when under such pressure. Uh-oh, I'm rambling.

(Thanks for the b-day wishes; on that subject, I'll blame the rambling on my advancing age).

Anonymous said...

I love this book. I love the movie too. This makes me want to read it again. I've listened to the audio book too. It's a great way to pass the time during my commute.

Shaddy said...

dayner: I agree. The lastest movie version is excellent. I watched it twice within a couple of days.

Natasha said...

I love P & P. Rereading it is such good comfort food. It's my favorite of her works, but I'm looking forward to the PBS series as well! Thanks for the reminder.

Rob said...

I have never read this. But I plan to. Also there is a version out now that is done with zombies .. I'm odd enough I may take that one in as well :P