Books, etc, Jane Austen, Review

Proud to be prejudiced

I am not too proud to say I was prejudiced against reading Jane Austen. Oops, sorry. My mistake. I apologise. Let’s start again.

The only real Mr Darcy, Colin Firth, and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any post about Pride and Prejudice must begin with a lame reference to some truth that is universally acknowledged, because it is universally acknowledged that the first line is pretty much the best line in the book.

(I prefer Mr Bennet’s “From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.”)

There, that’s out of the way.

Although, you must allow me to say how ardently I admire and love this book. Okay, enough.

It had been, in part, a matter of pride that prevented me from reading Pride and Prejudice. For one thing, it is pretty girly. It had also been partly a matter of prejudice. For a second thing, I had seen the BBC TV series that launched Colin Firth’s career more than twice, so what did I need to read the book (beyond the first sentence) for?

Well, as it turns out, I really didn’t. Quite a bit of the book was arguably better as the dialogue it became in the six-part, award-winning series. And most of the time I was reading the book in the same way one looks at a famous paintings when they see them in the flesh. Although, it is one thing to know what a Dali looks like and another thing to see the actual paint.

Some copies of the book look like this. Mine doesn't, but you get the point.

Austen had mad skills. This fact can be inferred from watching adaptations, but nothing proves it so conclusively as skipping through her pages. Her works fell out of fashion for a while, they were considered too lightweight and obsessed with money and finery and frivolous subject such as rich people marrying. Pompous and absurd though her subjects seem all these years later, the evidence of the mad skills survives.

It is beautiful, it is decadent, it is over-written prose about women of no importance from centuries gone by. But there’s not much more to it than that.


3 thoughts on “Proud to be prejudiced

  1. Ruth Ruffles says:

    She beautifully captures her time and her class in a time bubble. All her books are similar in that way but she chose to write about what she knew.
    Louisa May Alcott wrote the Little Women series about 80 years laters, set during the Civil war in the US, which was very popular. She also wrote a book called “The Chase” which was not published in her lifetime about a woman who went off with an older, fairly wealthy man and had a wonderful time in Europe. Louisa’s father was a member of a group of people with “alternative” ideas so her life and experience were a little out of the norm, which makes for very interesting social commentry.

    • Among all the supposed advice about writing, it’s common to hear “you should write what you know” and Austen is a compelling argument for that. While my tastes might veer toward the more imaginative – Dali over Renoir, Douglas Adams over Jane Austen – I appreciate and enjoyed the artistry. Also, I don’t think it was a bad thing that I waited until being an adult to first read the book, I doubt I would have enjoyed it as much as a teenager.

  2. Nyree says:

    Oh my goodness. Haven’t read any of your stuff for years! Just brilliant. So funny! I keep on breaking into giggles

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