“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners–one of the most popular novels of all time–that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the “most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author’s works,” and Eudora Welty in the twentieth century described it as “irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be.”
Okay, I know in the last post about Persuasion, I said that it was becoming my favourite Austen novel, but that is not quite the case. As I re-read this (for the millionth and one time), I realize why this novel has stayed at the top of my favourite list — it is funny and touching, without being clichéd, and the sparring between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy is so civilized, it makes me wish I lived during those times.
So, after reading this book so many times, these are the things that I question/think about now:
1. Why is Mr. Bennet so apathetic about Lydia’s going away? I realize he has a lot to deal with, but he’s the father!
2. Is Mr. Wickham as awful as he is made to seem in the novel? Why?
3. Is Georgiana Darcy as innocent as she is portrayed? For some reason, I find her a bit annoying now … this may have something to do with me watching ‘Lost in Austen’ where a young girl finds a door into Austen’s world, and meets all the characters from the novel — and all is not as it is portrayed in the novel.
4. What will become of Mrs. Bingley after Mr. Darcy marries Elizabeth, and Mr. Bingley marries Jane?
5. Will Wickham and Lydia ever find happiness – together or separately?
So, after reading this novel again, I’m reminded of why I love this novel so much – it’s fun and written with sophistication and elegance.
If you love the novels, these are the best adaptations:
Pride and Prejudice (1995) with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle
Pride and Prejudice (2005) with Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley
And just for fun:
Lost in Austen (2008) with Jemima Rooper