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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Digital

15 Jul

The Kindle was my Gateway Drug

It seems there is a schism in the book world of those that are vehemently against eBooks books and all they stand for, and those who love them. I have gone from one side of the argument being a fierce advocate of physical media to being a fierce advocate of all things digital. Here is my journey.

My love for digital really started in July of 2010 with the announcement of the third generation of kindles. Before this announcement the kindles were selling for $259 which put it only in the hands of the most passionate of readers and early adopters of technology. The third generation of kindles introduced a new Wi-Fi only kindle for a reasonable price of $139, which while still a decent sum of money, was now low enough for me to buy it knowing that it might not be for me. When the third generation kindle was released in September of 2010 I was one of the first in line (and by in line I mean waiting by the post box as they delivered it) to get one. I mark the purchase of my kindle as the keystone moment of my foray into the digital world.

I’ll continue discussing my digital come to Jesus moment in full, but I think I need to be a little clearer about my past experience with digital media. I am a millennial which means I have grown up with the rise of computer technology. I have been an active part all the way from DOS and Windows 3.1 to the rise of the internet and smartphones of today. Not only have I grown up with computer technology but I have been an early adopter of technology for as long as I could remember. I had an MP3 player before the iPod even existed, a digital camera when they only held as many pictures as film, and a home computer before they were common place. So it isn’t that I have been resisting digital technology but I was waiting for it to catch up with what I thought it should be. I have had a vision of how I thought digital content should work and it took a long time before the technology caught up to its potential.

Not only did I have an MP3 player before the iPod but I was an early adopter of the iPod itself. When I graduated high school I immediately knew what a big deal the iPod would be and bought one when they used to cost $500. And while I loved my IPod and not only filled it to its once impossibly large 15 gigabytes of space but soon found myself out of space and limited by that once large 15 gigs. But even as my music library became larger and larger it was only from ripping cd’s I owned and never actually from buying that music from iTunes. Digital content in its earliest form was set up for instant gratification one time buying of that material. You only got to download it once and it was basically only useful on that device. I wanted my digital media to be an extensive library that I would have for years to come and didn’t feel comfortable spending the money on the MP3’s knowing that I was only a hard drive failure away from losing it all. Not only that but MP3’s from iTunes were DRM protected and only worked with apple devices, so while it was great for my iPod at the time I was going to be stuck in the apple ecosystem forever. iTunes MP3’s were also often much more expensive to buy entire albums than to buy the CD from best buy or used from half priced books. And I won’t pretend these weren’t the Wild West days of napster which while wonderful also trained an entire generation what it felt like to get any song at any time for free. Let’s also not forget that even today not all artists are on iTunes, and while it’s gotten a lot better from where it started it still can’t be the replacement for all your music needs. iTunes was a good start but and the technology wasn’t there. So while I was very much onboard with digital music I still bought physical CD’s of everything.

So back to my kindle, on that fateful September day my kindle was delivered and things were never the same. I had all ways been a reader but around the time my kindle arrived I had been in a reading slump. I had vowed to never read another book after the last Harry Potter had come out in 2007 and as of 2010 I had kept true to that vow. So when I got my kindle part of me wasn’t even sure if I would even use it at all. I figured spending 140 dollars would guilt me into at least reading some and would hopefully kick start my interest in reading again. Which to my surprise, it did! Not only was I reading again but I was reading all most every single day and I couldn’t be more pleased with my little kindle. I really enjoy my kindle for reading books but I also loved the other features like picking up where I left off from it to my phone, highlighting, and taking notes. I was also traveling a lot at the time and having this huge library of books all in one device was amazing. I had been carrying a shit ton of stuff in my carry on and was able to get rid of most of it and replace it with my kindle. Not to mention a 2 week to 1 month battery life which was not only unheard of but completely got rid of the worry on the thing dying on me mid book.

So somewhere along the way of me just enjoying books on my kindle I had a fundamental shift in how I thought about digital media. As any kindle owner will tell you it’s so easy to buy books that it doesn’t take long to start spending a lot of money on books. Somewhere between my 15th and 100th book I had reached a point of no returned. I was to the point where I had spent about as much on content for my kindle as I had for my kindle itself which was a good time for me to stop and take inventory. It had reached the point where it was no longer disposal money I was putting into this kindle book ecosystem and if suddenly amazon went bankrupt tomorrow I would lose a significant amount of money/merchandise. So I basically had to decide where or not to take the plunge and decide if I had enough faith in amazon and what they were doing to trust them in handling this giant library of digital media for me and basically hope they don’t go out of business or give up on the kindle. We all have to make that choice at some point or another when we buy into some sort of digital media or digital ecosystem. We have to decide if the technology and convenience of using this technology now is worth the risk that it could be gone in the future. I had essentially decided that I was getting enough enjoyment and product for my money now to risk that someday this library I build may not be available. It’s a pessimistic but realistic look at this new world of digital media. While companies like amazon and apple have been thriving now all have been winners. If you had bought into an HP Touchsmart you would have been shit out of luck two months later when they gave up on the system.

The real game changer I think (besides me deciding it was worth the risk) actually came down to my CD collection. It’s easy to say to yourself if I buy this book or CD physically than that’s it, unlike digitally I will have it forever and never have to worry about buying it again. But in reality there can be just as many risks that this physical book or CD I bought today may be just as useless tomorrow. It’s obvious when you think about vinyl records or cassette tapes that as technology changes your once usefully copy of Ace of Base is now just a nice big coaster. Sure you can still play vinyl records today but how often do you really? You may hold out as long as you can but at some point that giant collection of records just becomes useless. We can hope that this copy of Star Wars will be the last we will ever buy but in reality we are going to just keep buying it time and again when the format we watch movies changes. But even besides changes in technology physical media just isn’t as evergreen as we like to think. My massive CD collection is slowly starting to get destroyed due to CD rot. Some of my CD’s literally have holes in them and will no longer play. Apparently it’s normal, CD’s aren’t meant to last forever, they can start breaking down anywhere from 10-30 years. Books are the same way, while they can last hundreds or years if taken care of correctly they can also start drying out, rotting, or get silverfish. No matter how safe we feel physical media is it really isn’t. Once I started seeing my CD’s getting eaten away I was a lot less nervous of going digital than I had been ever before. If even my CD’s aren’t going to last forever I mine as well go to digital which at least won’t take up so much damn room in my house.

Another game changer for me is being younger I have been moving every 1-2 years to various apartments, dorms, houses. Which means that during every move I wind up carrying box after box of heavy ass books from place to place, some of which I have never read but have moved at least 5 times. After my last move I decided to have one book shelf of space and that’s it. If I add a new book to the shelf something else has to be sold or given away but I will no longer collect things I hope I may be interested in later, every book now has to count and be there for a reason. Digital books is not only nice to have when traveling but it frees up so much space. Books are a pain in the ass, they take up a ton of space and I am one that rarely ever re-read books, but I like to know the option is there. I may never actually read that 1,000 page copy of Le Misérables on my kindle but I like the fact that I could and I don’t have to move it from house to house while I decide.

Here are the key ways the kindle changed the way I felt about digital media:

  • The Kindle was Priced Low: I can’t stress this enough. Had the newer Kindle been the same $259 price tag that the Kindle 2 was I would have never bought one. Being $139 it was low enough for me to buy it on a whim knowing that if I didn’t like reading on this new format that I wouldn’t be at a huge loss. Not only that but after spending $259 on the device and then $10 per eBook it would take 52 books before you started saving money if you were assuming physical books cost $15 dollars each.
  • The Cloud: My kindle was my first experience in using the cloud and things haven’t been the same since. I like the fact that I can download, delete, and re-download a book as many times as my heart desires. I’ve gone through 3 phones now and a series of different computers and tablets and its great knowing that no matter what new device I get I can still re-download those books I have bought.
  • Taking Notes: I love taking notes and highlighting in my kindle books. I know most people don’t use this feature but when reading the Game of Thrones series or Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books it was great highlight all the clues that lead to be big reveals later on. My game of thrones books are my own personal notebook keeping track of what’s going on and it shows up whether I use my kindle, iPad, computer, or website to look at these books. It’s fantastic and I am completely jealous of college kids who get to use this technology to take notes in textbooks today.
  • Buy Once Read Anywhere: This has been the philosophy of amazon and kindle from the start and it’s incredibly effective. Unlike the early days of iTunes all my eBook purchases from amazon are saved in the cloud and can be sent to any kindle device or app as many times as I want. This was huge for me, amazon has been smart on this front and put their app on every phone and tablet possible. This gave me a peace of mind that even though I am buying a book from amazon if I decide to go android or apple in the future I would still be able to access all of that media.
  • Lower Priced Books: It’s not all ways the case but in general eBooks cost less than actual books. List price of hardbacks goes anywhere from 15 to 40 dollars sometimes, and while you generally don’t pay the full price at Barnes and Nobel you generally have to pay a lot more than 10 dollars for the eBook. Also fuck you Barnes and Nobel. I never know what the price of anything at the store is, it’s generally not the list price but who knows. The website prices are different than the in store prices so the only way to know the actual price is to go to the store itself and have them ring it up.
  • eBooks Don’t Smell: This isn’t a real reason but I really just hate when people say thing don’t want to give up physical books cause they like the smell of books.

Final Thought

The real key to my conversion and adoption of digital books, music, movies, and now comics has been the fact that no matter how future proof we think it is digital or physical, nothing lasts forever. Books can be destroyed in a flood or hurricane, can yellow and become brittle, or rot and get silverfish. Music and movies can get left behind due to new tech and suddenly unplayable on modern devices. Digital media can suffer from similar fates due to technology or the provider companies shifting focus or going out of business. There are a lot of reasons people are against going digital and security and longevity of the medium can be one of the most problematic. But the reality is that nothing we own is that safe and no matter how much we might think that is this the last copy of Pride and Prejudice we are ever going to buy, it’s probably not.


Fifty Shades of Pride (A Darcy Interlude)

16 Oct

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single respectable woman in possession of no fortune must be in want of a wealthy husband. It is not even slightly acknowledged, however, that some single women know how unlikely it is to find one.”

Before we can really talk about the amazingness that is this mash up of 50 Shades of Grey and Pride and Prejudice we have to talk about nerds for a minute.  Nerd has for a long time has been a negative connotation, when you thought of nerds you thought of tape on glass, pocket protector, calculator watch nerd classic.  It seems like it’s all ways been around and nerds have been getting swirlys in movies for as long as I can remember.

Being a nerd is actually cool now.  Ever since Al Gore lifted Mjölnir (Thor’s Hammer) and created the internet nerds have been connecting with each other and sharing their nerdom and celebrating it.

That being said there are still a few things which their level of nerdom is high and so ingrained that you will be ostracized in public by even fellow nerds if you mention them.  These things harken back to the olden days of nerd where there was a deep sense of shame and embarrassment about being  into the thing you were in to.  And fairly enough the two are divided pretty well across gender lines.  The first, which is generally attributed to guys, is table top gaming, aka dungeons and dragons.  There is no way around this, people will make fun of you to your face and there is simply no way you can ever talk about this without looking ridiculous.  The second, which is generally attributed to ladies, is fan fiction, aka creating original stories based on other people’s material.  You may not even be aware this is a thing but it is and there are hundreds and thousands of web pages devoted to this.  Lots of it is pretty innocent and simply stories about harry potter’s kids, or what happened after star wars.  But then there is a whole genre of erotic fan fiction where shit gets out of hand.  What would happen if Ron and Harry hooked up?  Google it, it’s out there.

PS: the male equivalent to writing erotic fan fiction is being like a Dexter serial killer.

And that brings us to the main event, Fifty Shades of Pride (A Mr. Darcy Interlude) By Anna Smith.

I was going to avoid trying to go through the massive amount of Pride and Prejudice fan fiction that is out there but when I saw that there was an erotic 50 Shades of Grey Pride and Prejudice mash up that was only 40 pages and free on amazon prime, I couldn’t say no.  First off I haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey so I have no idea how it fits into this story, but if it’s anything like how Pride and Prejudice fits in (none at all) then I’m not missing out.

It starts off sort of like real life Pride and Prejudice where out new heroine, Emily and her friend Charlotte? (I can’t remember the friend doesn’t show up again), is at a ball where she meets Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley.  Instead of her over hearing them talk about the women in attendance like in real life P&P Emily over hears Darcy and Bingley talking about some whores they plowed the night before.  Which I don’t think little girls who dream of Darcy being their dream man imagine him plowing a bunch of whores.  But after he talking about banging whores Emily over hears Darcy mention how he doesn’t want to dance with any women there and how they aren’t tolerable, just like in real life P&P.  Also there is another guy at the ball who wants to marry Emily named Dr. Samuelson who is super boring and no one likes and sounds exactly like Mr. Collins.  So like we literally are all Pride and Prejudice set up at this point with a few different names and Darcy fucking a bunch of whores.  Then we basically abandon all Pride and Prejudice connection from hear out.  Emily owns a hunting lodge which Darcy is going to stay at.  She was going to stay with her friend Mary while he’s there but all of a sudden her plans fall through with Mary and she has to stay at the hunting lodge.  It’s pretty big I guess since she just hides from Darcy and his friends that are hunting and pretends to be a serving girl.  Well one night she goes downstairs to get a book (her uncle has a lot of erotic books) and Darcy catches her.  She leaves but he knows she was going to read erotica so the bait is set.  Next night Emily is cold and goes by the fire downstairs and Darcy joins her and one thing leads to another and they go to pound town.  After that it’s just a series of her sneaking down stairs so her and Darcy can bone.   After a while Darcy has to leave and asks her to come with her on a trip (some more sex happens here as well).  Emily decides to cut her hair and pretend to be a boy so they can travel without cause a stir.  She does, they bone, and then they take a tour of Paris.  They just bone a lot here, blah, blah.  Then Darcy gets a letter about his sister being in trouble and has to leave at once (we are to assume this was the instance with Mr. Wickham from real life P&P.  Since the ball we have completely ignored real life P&P and just been boning).  Darcy asks her to wait for him as he takes care of this and Emily gets a letter that her uncle that left her the hunting lodge also forgot but left her a bunch of money so she can now live a lifestyle of traveling and such and not worry about money, the end.

So the book is really oddly paced.  At first it is straight up scene for scene playing out like real life Pride and Prejudice.  Even to the extend where Mr. Darcy makes some pride full comments that Emily overhears and that there is a Mr. Collins that wants to marry her.  They even retool the opening line from real life Pride and Prejudice.  But they drop all of that all most immediately once they get to the cabin and it’s just going to pound town.  We get a little more Pride and Prejudice at the end but it’s a pretty loose “interpretation”.  So I don’t read a lot of “romance” novels so I don’t know how these things typically go but our hero is completely inexperienced in sex and Mr. Darcy has to show her the ropes.  She starts out as a virgin and goes from kissing Darcy to boning in 4.5 seconds.  It seems like this is probably a common theme in romance novels because it doesn’t make any sense in relating to Pride and Prejudice.  Emily is portrayed as a strong black woman, figuratively speaking.  Her parents are dead (guess?) and she owns a house that she rents out and employs a lot of servants.  She has a lot of real life responsibility and doesn’t take shit (she breaks a vase on one of Darcy’s friends who tries to assault her).  However she is completely passive in her own sexuality in besides having read some erotica.  Mr. Darcy is basically in charge of her learning about all her own sexuality.  None of the other characters really matter in it, they show up but you have pretty much forgotten about them by the time the next boning session takes place.  One thing that stuck out to me was that the servants are still basically non-people just like in real life Pride and Prejudice.  We hear some about how Emily is poor (owns a working lodge and all, but still) and how she is going to have to run this lodge all her life and how sad that is.  Yet there are several people that live and work to run the place who we aren’t supposed to feel sorry for?

There are actually two Pride and Prejudice / 50 Shades of Grey fan fiction books in ebook format that you can read.  The other one probably isn’t good either so if you want to read one this is probably the one to get in that its short so at least you won’t waste a lot of time.  It’s been interesting reading someone fan fiction (erotic fan fic at that!) but I don’t really get the appeal.  It probably would have been a lot worse if there had not been the constant fucking.  I’ll try to review more Pride and Prejudice fan fiction but honestly there is just so damn much and it takes a lot time so I’m probably going to stay away from it.

Pride and Prejudice Book III: Pride Hard With A Vengeance

8 Oct

. . . and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!

So I may have said that the last volume of the book was the section where shit goes down, so this section I would say is the section where more shit goes down but not as much as the section before.

We start off with our hero, Elizabeth, generally feeling kind of shitty for the way she treated Mr. Darcy on learning that Mr. Wickham wasn’t the badass she had first thought.  She goes on a trip to the countryside with her Aunt and Uncle and go on tours of huge houses around the area, which is something you could just do in those days.  Elizabeth’s Aunt suggests going to Pemberley (home of Mr. Darcy!) and Elizabeth not wanting to blow her cover accepts and to Pemberley they go.

I thought this was weird.  They just go to Pemberley and the house keeper, who doesn’t know any of them, just lets them right on in and gives them a grand tour of the place.  Elizabeth knows Mr. Darcy and they mention that but still the housekeeper doesn’t know that and for all she knows they are stealing silverware when she’s not looking.  It’s weird.

So they learn that Mr. Darcy isn’t there and won’t be there till the next day.  Elizabeth is relieved in that she’s still embarrassed for yelling at him and knowing she won’t see him she can relax and take in all that is Mr. Darcy’s home.   She starts to semi day dream how she could have been the mistress of the house and you begin to see her fall for Darcy for the first time.  Then out of nowhere Darcy arrives at his home early! Elizabeth freaks the fuck out and says all most nothing to him.  Darcy is super nice and shows her and her Aunt and Uncle around the place.

I was a little disappointed in Elizabeth, she’s shown herself a strong black woman so far and she pussys out completely in front of Darcy.  She could have apologized then and there, or made any mention that she believes he was right in his judgment of Wickhams character.  Instead she kind of blushes a lot and Mr. Darcy, I can only assume, still thinks she hates him.  She had just been remorse that she might not ever see him again and be able to make things right, but when presented with the chance to do just that she doesn’t.

Elizabeth and her Aunt and Uncle leave and stay at a nearby inn.  They receive a letter at the inn from Jane that lets them know that Lydia has ran off with Mr. Wickham and are living in sin.  Mr. Darcy visits them right after and Elizabeth is distraught, tells him what has happened before they leave to go to back home to sort this out.

The details are a little tedious but basically without telling anyone but Elizabeth’s Aunt and Uncle, Mr. Darcy pays all of Mr. Wickham’s debts and a large sum of money in order to convince him to marry Lydia, which he eventually does.  Elizabeth learns that it was Darcy who paid Wickham off and falls even more in love with him knowing he saved their family from disgrace.  Once all that is settled we get the greatest Victorian age verbal smack downs in the book when out of nowhere Lady Catherine comes to Longbourn and tells Elizabeth that she isn’t to marry Mr. Darcy.  Elizabeth tells her to fuck right off and the result has the opposite effect Lady Catherine had intended since now Elizabeth is sure Mr. Darcy still loves her.

Mr. Bingley comes back to Netherfield and him and Jane pick back up and he eventually proposes to Jane.  Darcy visits Bingley Netherfield and during a walk that him and Elizabeth have in which they manage to get some alone time he tells her he’s still in love with her and she tells him she loves him.  They get engaged and eventually married and the other loose ends are tied up in the epilogue.

Besides the bitch out Victorian equivalent of a real house wives throw the table moment between Lady Catherine and Elizabeth most of the action feels on the decline in this part of the book.  It feels funny to say that seeing as one of the daughters ran off with a man and caused a lot of scandal but all of the dealings with that were mostly off screen.  We just got letters and so forth from Mr. Gardiner about what was happening and it eventually worked out.  As soon as Bingley got back to Netherfield it was pretty obvious him and Jane would get be engaged pretty quickly.  After Elizabeth found out that Darcy paid for her sister to get married she was pretty much in for him and all the two of them needed was an open discussion on the matter to seal the deal.

This is another part I am a little disappointed in Elizabeth’s actions toward Mr. Darcy.  When Lady Catherine comes to her house to tell her not to marry Darcy she straight up tells her if he asks she would say yes.  She stands up to Lady Catherine who is of higher class in order to do so which is a big no no.  However she still can’t bring herself to say anything to Mr. Darcy.  If he hadn’t have told her that he still was in love with her they would have never got together.  She seemed intent on not bringing up the subject of even thanking him for what he did for Lydia (all though she wasn’t supposed to know).  Mr. Darcy had even been to dinner with their family and Mrs. Bennet acted like an asshole to him (he had just helped their family out a ton but she didn’t know all thought Elizabeth did) and Elizabeth just let her.  She didn’t stick up for him at all when he was being insulted by her own family right in front of her face.  I guess it was her being lady-like by not saying anything but Elizabeth really should have told Darcy something on the lines of apology for what she said about him and Wickham even if she wasn’t going to bring up the help he had provided for her family.

I was also disappointed in Mr. Bennet in this section of the book as well.  So far he’s been one of my favorite characters with his witty statements and disinterest in his daughters getting married.  He provides a great balance to his wife who thinks about nothing but her daughters getting married.  However when Lydia runs away with Mr. Wickham he is utterly useless in doing anything.  He goes to England where he believes they are in order to convince them to get married but after a few days can’t handle it and makes his brother in law handle the situation for him.  During all of the dealings that had to be made to pay Wickham to convince him to marry Lydia he has no part of it.  He goes from being one of our heroes of wit and humor to being fairly useless in a time of need.

So overall I liked the book, if I were to rate it I would give it 4 out of 5.  It’s language and style reflect the time period it was made, and even though this was all most two hundred years ago it still it’s easy to become engrossed in the story.  I’m pretty excited to say the least I didn’t hate this book and then would be spending the next god knows how long going through adaptation after adaptation.  If I did have one complaint it would  be the treatment of lower class citizens in this book.  They are basically non-existent or they are portrayed as completely content with their station in life.  I’ll go into more detail about this later but for all the analysis between the upper and middle class and destruction the class divide brings we don’t hear about the lower classes at all.  But it’s a small complaint and the story isn’t about the struggle of the lower classes it’s a love story so I get it not being in there.  Any ways now that I’ve gone through the original book it will be time to start going through the adaptations!

Pride and Prejudice Book II: Pride Harder

2 Oct

“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

If this was an episode of Friends the title would be, “The one where shit goes down”.  Book two consists of chapters 24-42 and presents the main conflict and climax of the book.  In these chapters our hero Elizabeth visits her newly married BFF Charlotte at her Huntsford.  During this visit we get some of the best moments so far from the bitchy Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who truly deserves a section all her own.  She is like Cruella DeVille, Professor Umbridge, and Chief Gordon Ramsay all mixed into the perfect storm of cunt.

No governess! How was that possible? Five daughters brought up at home without a governess! I never heard of such a thing. Your mother must have been quite a slave to your education.

All though statements like the following made by Lady Catherine seem pretty tame, in Pride and Prejudice talk she mine as well have just told Elizabeth that she is stupid and her mother is a whore.

All though our main parties’ visits with Lady Catherine are entertainment enough in this section of the book the real shocker in this section is the surprise proposal of Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth.  Mr. Darcy is the nephew of Lady Catherine so he visits her estate during the duration of Elizabeth’s stay with the Collins. He acts some what strange but Elizabeth could really give a fuck and from her earlier accounts of Mr. Darcy’s behavior from Mr. Wickham he is an irredeemable pile of shit.  So when out of left field Mr. Darcy proposes and not only that but says he has been in love with her, it is quite the shock to all.  Up until this point we assumed the hatred between the two was mutual but it becomes clear that Mr. Darcy was not catching the bad vibes Elizabeth was sending him.  Elizabeth not only rejects him but kicks him swiftly in the balls with her shut down and confronts him on what Mr. Wickham has said of Darcy’s character and on him keeping her sister Jane and Mr. Bingley apart.

From the very beginning–from the first moment, I may almost say–of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.”

In other words, “Not only no, but HELL no”.  Mr. Darcy is left a broken mess and leaves without saying much more.  The next day he gives Elizabeth a letter that gives in full detail an explanation of his actions.  He explains he did try to keep Jane and Bingley apart but only because he didn’t think she was into him.  Jane is a quiet girl and he apologized for his inference because he truly thought it was in their best interest.  As for Mr. Wickham he lays out what really when down and that he gave Mr. Wickham the money his father had left for him and much more so he could become a lawyer.  Wickham blew the money on hookers and blow and came back asking for more and Darcy, rightfully so, told him to go fuck himself.  Afterwards Wickham tried to secretly elope with his sister which would have been all kinds of a scandal and this is why he and Wickham hated each other.   Elizabeth realizes she fucked up and judged him wrongly but the damage has already been done so she can only hope that she doesn’t suffer the embarrassment of seeing him again.

Ok that was a lot of plot and lots were left out but the main theme of the whole book has been this back and forth anger/hatred between Elizabeth and Darcy.  You expected that feelings were mutual so it is a really big shock that he was actually in love with her the whole time.  More so it is a shock that Mr. Wickham isn’t who he say he is.  Elizabeth herself was growing a half chub for Wickham before she left for Huntsford and Wickham was reciprocating those feelings.  However shortly before she left another richer girl in town became available and Wickham dropped his affection for Elizabeth for greener pastors.  This should have been a sign for Elizabeth but their attraction was never that strong so she just assumed he was never that interested in the start.  This in and of it self isn’t much but it’s helps Elizabeth find the truth when she’s presented with two drastically different characterizations of Mr. Wickham and Mr. Darcy.

For me the most interesting and best part of the book so far has been seeing Elizabeth after receiving the letter use her logic and reasoning to realize what Darcy is saying is true.  She has hated Darcy the entirety that she’s known him so far and it would have been much easier for her to convince herself he was lying and Wickham is right.  After her outburst she very possibly won’t ever see Darcy again and there would be consequence if she held the façade that Mr. Wickham told her to be true.  However, Elizabeth sets what she feels emotionally aside and decides based on the merit of their statements what is true.  In this pre-election climate you can really see that putting your emotions aside and taking a hard truth is something that a lot of people are simply unwilling to do.  It is hard to take a cherished belief and stare at the facts and say “hey I fucked up”.  With the internet and how polarized things are right now we can just find the facts that best suit us and double down regardless of what introspective thought and reasoning might tell us.  Elizabeth took the harder path and had to realize her actions might have hurt a decent man rather than take the easy way out and say he was full of shit.

Our hero is growing up.  While she’s not a girl, not yet a woman, she’s definitely on her way.  When she first heard that her BFF Charlotte was getting married to Mr. Collins she acted like an asshole.  While she didn’t do anything outwardly other than a small outburst when Charlotte first told her inside she turned on her friend.

Charlotte the wife of Mr. Collins was a most humiliating picture! And to the pang of a friend disgracing herself and sunk in her esteem, was added the distressing conviction that it was impossible for that friend to be tolerably happy in the lot she had chosen.”

Between Elizabeth and Charlotte there was a restraint which kept them mutually silent on the subject; and Elizabeth felt persuaded that no real confidence could ever subsist between them again. Her disappointment in Charlotte made her turn with fonder regard to her sister …”

It was kind of shitty for her to be so hard on her friend for getting married a guy who was yes an idiot but also wealthy enough so that she could live well.  Seeing Elizabeth reason and reconcile her mistake with Darcy shows leaps and bounds in her growth as a person from the girl she was.

Next up is book three and the conclusion to part one of this many part series.  After all the scandal and surprises of book two I don’t know if book three is going to try to top it or just tie up loose ends.  Either way its going to be interesting to see how this tale ends.  Also after reading thus far it’s become clear that Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine, and the Bennet girls are going to need a separate discussions of their own.  They are all some of the craziest/catty/bitchy/dumb/greatest/most entertaining parts of the book and so don’t feel bad if I haven’t given them justice yet.

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.