Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen

This novel is a staple of summer reading everywhere; the girls love it and the boys almost invariably hate it. The secret to that gender split has to do with Austen's writing style; the novel is very funny in terms of verbal wordplay, but little happens that is overt, and teenaged boys are generally considered to be behind girls of the same age in terms of verbal development and subtle cues.

Besides, it's all about romance, which is something teenaged boys have notoriously little time for.

The premise of the novel is fairly simple: a new young gentleman comes to town, along with his proud friend who gives offense to an intelligent young lady. Since at least one hates the other, anyone can see that they are destined for one another, and that the book will be about the pitfalls along the way. It doesn't hurt the narrative that the young lady, Elizabeth Bennet, while having a sweet and intelligent older sister, also has to deal with a very silly mother and three silly younger sisters, and a father who, while intelligent himself, has more fun watching the antics of his family than in reining them in. Or that there are several spiteful people in their branch of society who will make trouble by spreading rumors.

While I love this novel, I would only recommend it to those people who are good at reading between the lines, because only through a close understanding of character is the real absurdity of the situations apparent. However, I can recommend the lovely A&E series based on this book unreservedly, because while it is faithful to the novel in most particulars, it also manages to translate the foilbles of the characters into a format almost anyone can appreciate.


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