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I can actually remember the moment I stopped reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice when I had the first go around. In middle school, upon learning that this novel was revered by so many readers I knew, I decided to take it up. However, at a certain point, I encountered this language: "the former....the latter....". I just couldn't grasp which one was the former and which the latter! The language was just too hard. There I gave up and never looked back. That is, I never looked back until a few months ago. At book club one night we got to talking about Jane Austen. Again, my fellow readers spoke with a sense of awe and wonder regarding Pride and Prejudice. I felt left out! I realized then that I had to go back and try again.
I think that my resistance to picking the book back up after all these years stemmed from more than just the antiquated phrasing. I resisted because the book is so cloaked in this awesome reputation. Everyone raves about it! Honestly, I was a little intimidated. Part of me also thought that a book written so long ago would be unreadable, stuffy, and outdated.
Boy was I wrong!! If you haven't read this novel, or if it's been a while, I urge you to pick it up. I'm actually not finished with it yet--I have about a quarter left--but I just had to write about it here. Each time I open the book, I'm blown away by the humor, the wit, and the (prepare yourself) relevancy of Pride and Prejudice! Bravo, Jane Austen for writing a novel whose plot line and characters can stand the test of time!
Let's start with Elizabeth. I wholeheartedly love her. What a smart, strong, independent, witty young lady she is. I just adore her relationship with her sister Jane. Especially touching is to read about their affection for one another when they are apart--since they don't have cell phones and email they rely on letters. How nice to communicate only through letters, there is the necessity to wait and be patient, not like the super-instant gratification we have today.
I get such a kick out of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet's relationship. Recently I have found myself cracking up on the subway while reading about Mrs. Bennet's antics! She is really very silly and so obsessed with material things and getting her girls married off. But that really isn't such a dated character type is it? I think we all know women out there who unfortunately still act that way. Oh and reading about Elizabeth's younger sisters is funny too--what silly young girls who couldn't be more different than Lizzy and Jane!
Above all though, I am utterly enjoying the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy (or at this point the lack of relationship--I have faith though!). The two both had their misconceptions, their prejudices, about each other, but oh how they each regret those former feelings. There are so many scenes with these two that I just want to yell--tell each other how you feel!!!--but I guess they didn't do it that way back then. How about the part when Elizabeth is with her Aunt and Uncle and they go visiting Pemberly under the assumption that Darcy isn't there.....then all of the sudden the two meet outside......I love that scene. The awkwardness of running into that person you are quasi-romantically involved with at just the worst possible time--this is not an outdated concept!
Overall, what a classic and timeless critique of popular society and dating rituals. What would Jane Austen think about today's dating world--what with all the texting and IMing and facebooking?? I guess we'll just have to imagine. Thank you Jane Austen and thanks to book club for getting me to pick the novel back up again!