Monday, April 29, 2013

Comedy for Spring

Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”  ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

This is among my favorite novels. After having stumbled through it as a teenager I have read it several times as an adult and find it a delightful and very humorous read. My most recent reading was with a group where we were able to explore our varied viewpoints on the travails of the life and love of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. D'Arcy.
I was impressed with the clarity and classical balance of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. From the balanced structure with three sections of almost equal length to the deliberate, yet pleasing, way that the story advances the novel seems designed to display both an intimate and timeless story with a reasonableness that does not deny the underlying emotions on display. Mr. Bennet's apparent sedate approach to life provides counterpoint to the dizzying distress displayed by Mrs. Bennet. She is concerned with life's little problems (yes they are little, in retrospect), while they seem large and insoluble at the time, and whether they will work themselves out. However her overriding and immediate concern is over whether and when her daughters will marry. Will the young Bennet women be able to demonstrate their marriageability, much less choose among the landowners, the clergyman, the overly-proud (?) and the gamester to find fitting matches? Interweaving the misunderstanding of misplaced perspective and the imprecision of unwarranted judgements Austen has created a classic comedy of manners and marriage with a sensible narrative. Within a limited time and space she illumines both the rational and irrational in the humanity on display in this seemingly sheltered world (the turmoil of the outside world is indirectly displayed in the presence of the militia). Austen would go on to more mature demonstrations in Emma and Persuasion, but this book continues to delight the discerning reader.

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