Archive | September, 2012

Pride and Prejudice Book I: Pride Hard

25 Sep

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

This is the first sentence of Pride and Prejudice and at 10,460 highlights is the second most highlighted sentence of any book on kindle (in case you were wondering which I’m sure you were, the number one most highlighted sentence is from book two of the Hunger Games Series, Catching Fire, “Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them”, has 17,784 highlights).  It is the kind of statement you would expect to find in a quirky handwriting framed on a wall on pinterest.  Right away it’s as if Jane Austen is saying, “guys you may consider sitting this one out because we are about to go balls deep in some serious girly girl territory”.  And thus begins our journey of Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

Book one of Pride and Prejudice includes chapters 1-23 and roughly ends on page 125 depending on which version of the book you are reading.  We are introduced to our cast of characters and the namesake central cases of both pride and prejudice occur.  The hero of our book is Miss Elizabeth Bennet who is the second eldest daughter of the Bennet family (consisting of five girls).  The book starts off in the town of Hertfordshire with the young bachelor Mr. Bingley moving into the nearby house of Netherfield.  Mrs. Bennet (Elizabeth’s Mother) is all about this news and more than a little excited to dump off one of her daughters to the highest bidder.  A ball is thrown and some prideful statements are made by the rich friend of Mr. Bingley and some prejudice begins to develop in our hero.  Elizabeth’s older sister Jane falls for Mr. Bingley and with some sneaky planning by her mother winds up spending a few days at Netherfield where their love begins to develop.  Their cousin stays for a lengthy visit in which he proposes and is shut down by Elizabeth.  Mr. Bingley throws a ball himself in which the entirety of the Bennet family makes an ass of themselves.  We meet Mr. Wickham who has a mysterious falling out with Elizabeth’s antagonist Mr. Darcy.  And finally Elizabeth’s cousin, Mr. Collins proposes to her best friend (the day after proposing to Elizabeth herself) and the two are engaged.  To wrap it up, as Elizabeth herself states in chapter 20, “Some ill shit has just gone down”.

If you are a new reader to Austen (or in my case someone who has read her work but it’s been a while) you are going to need to adjust to the speech of Pride and Prejudice pretty quickly.  This book was written in 1813 and we are in some stage 5 Downton Abbey shit.  All the insults and comments are going to be spoken in the most respectable fashion and the slightest of missteps can mean a world of punishment.  Class and caste are extremely important in this society and everyone knows their place and the place of those around them.  The speech and mannerism of the book so far are the greatest draw but I can see how they could also be the largest inhibitor to those not prepared.  The way that the ladies of Meryton speak to each other is truly an art.  Every word spoken is done so carefully to ensure that no disrespect is detected even when one is laying down insults to someone to their face.  The kind of precision you Dexter use as he cuts open a serial killer you see from the ladies as they put a bitch in her place.  In this day and age of real housewives flipping a table and screeching “fuck you bitch!” like a harpy straight out of hell, this subtleness and cleverness is very much a lost art.  If you can handle the floweriness of the speech and the arguments that occur having little actual weight you are going to enjoy the shit out of this book.

Only 23 chapters in (roughly a third) I am pretty bought in on the whole thing and there hasn’t even been a central conflict or story yet.  The closest thing I can think of off hand that it has compared to so far is reality tv shows, such as real housewives or keeping up with the Kardashians.  Now before you Jane Austen die hards with a vengeance burn me at the stake for equating classic literature with  the shittiest of what we as a human race have produced hear me out.  The Bennet’s are portrayed in this book as being “poor” when by any standard of today they would be considered upper upper middle class while their friends who they do consider rich would be considered by us to be super rich.  The problems and day to day activities by these people I can only assume were not shared by the vast majority of people of that time period and the “problems” that they run into are what we would call today as “white girl problems”.  That all being said what has made this book great so far is that it is super entertaining to see rich people be catty to each other and complain about shit!  There are entire TV channels dedicated to this very concept!

So I tried to generally discuss what has happened to this point in the book so far but there are some things that will need to be discussed in more depth.  First we reach the namesake part of the book in which our main antagonist Mr. Darcy makes his “pride” remarks.  While at the first ball in Meryton Mr. Darcy does not dance with any of the ladies.  This might have been excused but Elizabeth overhears him talking some shit about the ladies at the ball.  He states to Mr. Bingley (page 18) in regards to why is isn’t dancing,

I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. At such an assembly as this it would be insupportable. Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room whom it would not be a punishment to me to stand up with.

Mr. Bingley replies, “Oh! She is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld! But there is one of her sisters sitting down just behind you [Elizabeth], who is very pretty, and I dare say very agreeable. Do let me ask my partner to introduce you.

Darcy responds with, “She [Elizabeth] is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt ME; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.

All of which Elizabeth hears (unknowingly to Mr. Darcy) and, understandably so, doesn’t leave a good first impression and begins her prejudice against Mr. Darcy.  Her true prejudice against Mr. Darcy occurs on page 78 when Mr. Wickham tells her about how Mr. Darcy’s father had intended to give him a healthy living and the after his death Mr. Darcy denied him this and kick him out on his ass.  Elizabeth believes his story since she all ready thinks of Darcy as an asshole and tells the whole town so then soon too think Darcy is an asshole.  These two exchanges (from what I can tell so far) are the main misunderstandings that lead to the bad blood between Darcy and Elizabeth that is the central theme of the book.

The other big event that happened in this section was the visit from the Bennet girls cousin, Mr. Collins.  I plan on having a whole post in which I will in better detail the greatness that is Mr. Collins but if we need to mention his dual proposals that take place.  The interactions with Mr. Collins bring to light some of the more interesting parts of 1800’s society England.  Mr. Collins has an Entail to the Bennet home of Longbourne, which means that because there is not a male heir for Mr. Bennet that once he dies the property will go to Mr. Collins.  This means that if he dies at sooner rather than later that Mrs. Bennet are all the unmarried daughters will be out on their ass.  It is assumed that Mr. Bennet doesn’t like this agreement but it seems to be some provision that is in the deed of the property and he can’t change it if he wanted to.  Mr. Collins feels guilty about this and wants to marry one of his cousins (first cousins at that!) in order to make up for it.  Mrs. Bennet is all about this plan and is will to marry off any if not all of her daughters in order to secure her living at the property.  Mr. Collins initially decides on Jane but on discovering she’s got the hots for Mr. Bingley goes for Elizabeth who he then is immediately in love with.  Elizabeth turns him down and the next day he proposes to her best friend Charlotte and the two become engaged.

This was an awesome and also at times strange part of the book.  Again I will go into it in more detail later, but the exchange between Elizabeth and Mr. Collins is awesome.  He is an idiot and it’s great to see the verbal gymnastics Elizabeth must take in order to turn him down in the nicest possible way.  It is also strange to see how things worked in the 1800’s.  Mr. Collins is basically part of Lady Catherine’s entourage and she is paying for his home and livelihood to just have him around as entertainment.  It’s really weird.  Mr. Collins mission in life is to basically keep in good favor with her so she will support him.  His whole mission of coming down to Longbourne to marry his cousin is started because Lady Catherine told him he should find a wife.  Because Lady Catherine said so he really has no choice and come hell or high water he has to come back to her engaged.  It seems like an awful way to live but again it shows that the actually rich in this book hold an immense power and people will respect them no matter how good or bad they are simply because they are rich.  It also comes up in the exchanges of this part of the book how the Bennet family is poor.  They have servants, the father is a lawyer, and they have what looks like a huge estate but are still some how poor in this society.  Its interesting and cool to see this weird different society and how it worked.

My impressions at the end of Book I are good.  At the very least I don’t think this whole process is going to be as painful as it would be if I wasn’t enjoying the book.  This is the first time I read it and was expecting I would enjoy it based of how I felt about the 2005 movie but you never know.  The main plot is going to be between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth.  I know what happens in general terms from seeing the movie, but going off of what I have read alone so far the main conflict / story hasn’t presented itself yet.  So far we have had a lot of exposition, catty girls, and gossip (which has been awesome) so I am looking forward to what happens in the meat of the book.  I have really like what I have read so far and look forward to what is going to happen in Book II.

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Yippie Kay Yay Mother Fuckers!

23 Sep

One Book to Rule Them All…
Join me on my journey as I attempt to read all the book adaptations and film adaptations possible of Jane Austen’s masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice.  My goal is to read/watch every form of Pride and Prejudice possible (with the exception of the, what looks like hundreds, of fan fiction books).  I have only so far seen the 2005 film version staring Keira Knightly like 5 times and have never actually read the book.  So we will be embarking on this journey with fresh eyes, and will be hoping to God I don’t actually hate the book because its going to make this process a lot harder if I do!  I have just personally noticed that Pride and Prejudice more so than other classics has been re-imagined more so than other material.  There has to be a reason and I am going to find out!

My goals are to go about this in every form of media possible and not just straight review every each new piece of Pride and Prejudice I consume.  I may do some podcast style discussions of some of the pieces, do written reviews of some, talk specifically about characters, and other ideas that pop into my brain.  I want to keep this fast, loose, and fresh so when I get into a new form we’ll see how it lends it self to be discussed.

I will also keep posts of what I will be reading and talking about next so those that want to follow down the rabbit hole can follow along.