29th Aug 2008
Our latest review is of Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen:
When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited, while he struggles to remain indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.
Claire: Niki picked the book this time! Isn’t that nice? She said that we should read it because it’s classic.
Belle: But we were clearly correct in avoiding it for so long
Webmistress Niki: … what?
Belle: I was aware from the very first sentence that this supposedly “classic” novel would be dull, monotonous and Pretentious without validating its claims to real Art.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
Claire: I had to read that a bunch of times before I got what Austen was saying. Actually, I had to read most parts of the book a bunch of times! Which is weird, because I really love Regency romances, and I’m totally used to reading all the funny words like “verra” for “very” and “aye” instead of “yes.” But the language in Pride and Prejudice was even harder to understand! I don’t know what Austen was thinking when she wrote it like that.
Belle: And what she’s saying is ridiculous, because not every single man in possession of a good fortune wants a wife! Often it is entirely the other way around.
Webmistress Niki: You two do understand that this is a Regency novel? And that a lot of the charm of Austen’s work is in the sarcasm and wit?
Belle: Niki, all I am saying is that a sentence like that cannot even be compared to a sentence like this one, which opens one of our most popular novels:
The lush jungle swamps of Horticult beckoned to Liam O’Angel, weary Galactic soujourner and ex-Riadorfan Imperial Fleet Admiral, as someone might beckon to someone they wanted to come closer.
That sentence is evocative, contains excellent characterization, and is completely comphrensible.
Claire: Well, and even after you get past the first sentence, almost nothing happens in this entire novel! It’s just a lot of dancing and talking. No duels or carriage accidents or anything.
Belle: There is almost a duel in several places! But Austen foolishly denies us. Also, she didn’t include the memorable scene where Colin Firth dives into the lake in a white shirt.
Claire: It’s the worst adaptation from a mini-series that I’ve ever read.
Webmistress Niki: … WHAT?
Belle: One star.
Claire: I hope Austen’s next book is better. Five Clars!
Webmistress Niki: … WHAT?