Nov 15, 2010

Pride and Prejudice

One of my favorite books of all time.

I read it for the first time when I was about 15 or so. It was a book that I loved when I finished it the first time, and loved more when I finished it the second time. And so on.

Since then, I have read every single one of Jane Austen's novels mulitple times, except for Lady Susan which, for some reason, I feel rebellious about. I have also watched every single movie adaptation of every one of her books, and read every single sequel ever written to pride and prejudice, including Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies which is not a read for the faint of heart.

(My favorite quote:
As guests fled in every direction, Mr. Bennett’s voice cut through the commotion.“Girls! Pentagram of Death!”)

Yeah, you pretty much have to have the book memorized to enjoy every subtle humorous nuance of P, P & Z.

Jane Austen was a brilliant woman. She was ahead of her time in many ways, and no, I'm not just talking about feminism. I'm talking about the crumbling British Aristocracy. I'm talking about the society's rigid class structures. I'm talking about the invention of a little thing called Satire. (Well, OK, Voltaire invented satire.)

I'm talking about the birth of writing for women, about women, that is more substantial and more intelligent than gothic romance (Which Austen frequently poked fun at in her writing.) I'm talking about the birth of romantic comedy.

Who doesn't love Jane Austen? (Dave, keep quiet.) She is maybe one of the people I'd call one of my "Influences" as a writer (though that would be very presumptuous, so I won't.) If I could write a novel as satisfying, with characters as attractive and nuanced, relationships as realistic and yet humorous and glamorous, as Austen's-- I couldn't ask for any more as a writer.

I took the opportunity, after finishing this novel, to watch my favorite film adaptation of the story. It is, of course, the five hour version broadcast by A&E in 1995. And I have a funny story about that, too. When I was 15, I saw a commercial for the show when visiting at my Grandmother's house. This was when it first came out. It would be a couple years before it became well-known and popular. Anyway, I saw the commercial and begged my grandmother to record it for me. She did, and it took up two VHS-tapes, and there were commercial breaks.

That was how I watched this movie for several years... fast-forwarding through commercial breaks and the occasional blip of football that would come on every now and then at what must have been a break in the recording. For a long time I missed pieces of it. And the second tape was recorded out of sequence... I'd watch the first third, fast-forward through to almost the end to catch the second third, and then rewind and watch the last part of it.

ANd now it's all online (probably not really legally) for anyone to see whenever they want.

Anyway, suffice it to say I'm in love with this book. Four out of four stars... if you haven't read it, read it. If you read it once and hated it, read it again.

And go make sure you watch the movie if you want. I linked to it. Now I'll probably get a ton of Japanese spam. Oh well... such are the sacrifices we Austonians make.


merrilykaroly said...

Don't hate me.

I fall into the category of "reading it once and hating it." I admit I read it for a book report in high school. But everyone had raved and raved and raved about it and I read it and I thought... get ready... "this is just like the movie."

I have seen the black and white version, the A&E, the Kira Knightley, the Bride and Prejudice, the Mormon one, and part of another version which was awful so I think we stopped watching it partway through. (I also feel like the movie "North and South" is the same story.)

Maybe the story is so beaten to death that the satire is no longer funny to me? I don't think I could read it again if I tried. The only other Jane Austen novels I've read were Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. They were both good enough books, but I can't say I loved them.

What is wrong with me???

Dave L said...

You can't ask "who doesn't love Jane Austen" and then tell me to keep quiet! :-)

It's not so much that I dislike her as much as I seriously dislike that entire era of literature. There are maybe 3 books from that era that I enjoy. Perhaps if I had encountered them in a better way than forced reading in high school and college....

On the other hand, I enjoy most film interpretations of the books, so....

Heck, I couldn't even get through "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." I enjoyed the zombie parts, but I could not even begin to handle anything that was actually written by Austen.

merrilykaroly said...

Well, I hoped you wouldn't hate me. I didn't intend to crush you either... it was an honest question! I feel like there is something wrong with me because everybody else loves that literature so much. You should talk to my sis Camilla. She adores Jane Austen. She might make you feel better.

How can I make it up to you??

NoSurfGirl said...

chocolate always helps.
No, just kidding. I'm not crushed.

I think that it might actually be my enjoyment of romance novels and womens' writing, which typically is more about character development than plot, which gets me through the tricky language.

Not everyone likes it, though! I admit I'm not a huge fan of Grisham (which is everythin MALE about writing, haha.)

Camilla said...

Wow, Janey needs a little love here! I think that all the film adapatations (as wonderful as most of them are in their silly little ways) have done a bit of a disservice to poor "Pride and Prejudice." Although some people can read the book over and over and watch the films repeatedly (I'm with you there NoSurf, although I cannot bring myself to read P&P&Z because I hate bloody humor, I really just don't get it), some people cannot stand the onslaught. Maybe if P&P were just some little unknown book (unlikely) that hadn't stood the test of time (even more unlikely), and merrily picked it up at a second-hand book store and read it she'd love it? I don't know, maybe it's something you're born with.
Anyway, I agree with you very much about P&P being brilliant and inspiring and hilarious. I am actually a huge fan of "Persuasion," maybe even more than P&P (is that sacrilege?). Jane Austen is one of my very favorite authors of all time for sure.

Putz said...

i love grisham and hate austen