Days 401-424: Pride and Prejudice + Caruso CD 2

AustinBookCoverAfter slogging my way through Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for a month, I can definitely say this: I’m glad the month is over.

I just could not get into this book. I found its style off-putting, tedious, and amateurish.

But I dug Caruso.

So it wasn’t a total loss.

By the way, I think I figured out how to handle blogging about one topic for an entire month: “Days 401-424.” Rather than post every single day, I’ll post in chunks when something arises that matters to me.

Problem solved.


Day 400: Pride and Prejudice + Caruso CD 2

AustinBookCoverStill reading Jane Austen’s famous first work, Pride and Prejudice, and listening to CD 2 from the Naxos box set Enrico Caruso: The Complete Recordings.

Today is a milestone: 400 days of delving into the creative works of others. (Which is ironic since I’m supposed to be working on creative works of my own.)

I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: Reading is much harder to write about than listening. What do I say day after day – for 30 days, no less – about the same book and author?

Music, especially a different CD each day, is much more interesting for me.

It’s even hard to write about music if it’s the same CD every day for a month. What else can I say about Enrico Caruso or the songs I’m listening to?

By the end of all of this, I’ll have learned a lot. But, finding a way to write about it daily is proving to be a challenge.

Day 399: Pride and Prejudice + Caruso CD 2

AustinBookCoverStill reading Jane Austen’s famous first work, Pride and Prejudice, and listening to CD 2 from the Naxos box set Enrico Caruso: The Complete Recordings.

Here’s an example of what I mean about Austen’s style:

“Aye, so it is,” cried her mother, “and Mrs. Long does not come back till the day before; so it will be impossible for her to introduce him, for she will not know him herself.”

Jane Austen. Pride & Prejudice (p. 5). Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Then, this:

“While Mary is adjusting her ideas,” he continued, “let us return to Mr. Bingley.”

“I am sick of Mr. Bingley,” cried his wife.

Jane Austen. Pride & Prejudice (p. 5). Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Then this:

“I would not be so fastidious as you are,” cried Mr. Bingley, “for a kingdom! Upon my honour, I never met with so many pleasant girls in my life as I have this evening; and there are several of them you see uncommonly pretty.”

Jane Austen. Pride & Prejudice (p. 7). Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

In each case – just a couple of pages apart – the person doesn’t merely say something: she/he “cried” out the words.

Why single that out? The use of such words give me the impression that Austen is overly dramatic, perhaps melodramatic in what we’d today classify as a Soap Opera-style way of writing.

But who am I to quibble? No one will remember what I wrote in 20 minutes let alone 200 years.

Day 397: Pride and Prejudice + Caruso CD 2

AustinBookCoverStill reading Jane Austen’s famous first work, Pride and Prejudice, and listening to CD 2 from the Naxos box set Enrico Caruso: The Complete Recordings.

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.

CarusoCD2While I’m reading Jane, I’m listening to the great tenor Caruso. Of special note on CD 2 are these tracks:

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.

Day 395: Pride and Prejudice + Caruso CD 2

AustinBookCoverToday begins a new novel – Jane Austen’s famous first work, Pride and Prejudice.

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.

91J-4v0phfL._SL1500_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?)

We’ll see.