I enjoy Austen’s style. On one hand, it seems amateurish. Or quaint. Or antiquated. Or all three.
Yet, this book has stood the test of time since 1813 – two centuries! So it’s not like the writing is terrible. It’s just different from what we see in novels written today.
Here’s the poop on Jane Austin’s novel from its entry on Wikipedia:
Pride and Prejudice is a novel of manners by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of the British Regency. Elizabeth is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London.
Set in England in the early 19th century, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Mr and Mrs Bennet’s five unmarried daughters after the rich and eligible Mr Bingley and his status-conscious friend, Mr Darcy, have moved into their neighbourhood. While Bingley takes an immediate liking to the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, Darcy has difficulty adapting to local society and repeatedly clashes with the second-eldest Bennet daughter, Elizabeth.
Though Austen set the story at the turn of the 19th century, it retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of “most loved books.” It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, selling over 20 million copies, and receives considerable attention from literary scholars. Modern interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen’s memorable characters or themes.
Here’s an example of writing (end of chapter one) from Austen’s book:
Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.
Jane Austen. Pride & Prejudice (p. 4). Amazon Digital Services, Inc. Kindle Edition.
That paragraph was well written. Very descriptive and clever.
Track 11: LEONCAVALLO: Pagliacci – Vesti la giubba.
Track 12: MASSENET: Manon – II Sogno: Chiudo gli occhi.
The former is the famous song from the opera Pagliacci, which was one of Caruso’s signature roles. It was recorded on February 1, 1904, at Carnegie Hall.
The latter is a song with a very, very pretty piano introduction. It was recorded on February 9, 1904, in Carnegie Hall.
And that, as everyone knows, begins thusly:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
Jane Austen. Pride & Prejudice (p. 3). Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
There have been many film adaptations of Austin’s work, perhaps most notably the 1995 version starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. I know that one had girls’ hearts racing. If memory serves my wife had a cardboard standup of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in her dorm room in college.
I recently bought the Blu-ray of the Firth version of Pride and Prejudice. I started to watch it…and gave up because of a few of the high-pitched female British voices sounded like nails on a chalkboard to me.
However, in the spirit of this month’s reading assignment, I’ll give it a go.
I may even watch a few more adaptations of P and P. (Is it blasphemous to use initials regarding this book?)
Well, it was a long, tiring drive back home, with much of it the white-knuckle kind.
The winds were high, it was snowing in Indiana, and I was tired.
But, it’s All Hallows Eve.
And Ray Bradbury’s book has drawn to a close, just as vividly and emotionally as it began.
Caruso CD 1 is now shelved.
Tomorrow starts a new book (Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice) and a new CD (Caruso CD 2).
The Caruso CD comes from the Naxos box set Enrico Caruso: The Complete Recordings.
See you tomorrow.