Daily Archives: May 5, 2012

Pride and Prejudice

In April my book club read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice again. Rereading it is like reliving a delightful vacation. The characters and events become more vivid this time ’round.

This time when I read it, I was more aware of Lydia’s selfishness and cluelessness. (I’ve gotten that before, but this time it rang louder.) I think watching so many current movies, set in any era, I’ve subconsiously bought into our era’s feeling that “oh, it’s okay to impetuous.” Though Austen’s writings aren’t overtly religious, her message is clear that Lydia’s going to have a rough life and that foolish decisions don’t just turn out okay. Our society seems to have lost that notion. (Yep, I guess that observation shows why I’m so at home in Austen’s world.)

I also read with a keen view to seeing when Darcy falls for Lizzy and vice versa as that was a question I’d read in a list of discussion questions. I do wonder how it was that Darcy’s love wasn’t crushed after Lizzy refused him and wounded his pride so. Yes, he changed her view of him with his letter, but he didn’t know that.

I’ve seen the series with Colin Firth and the film with Matthew MacFayden and like them both. The BBC production with Firth is longer and can cover every scene in the book, while the film left things out. I am fine with any traditional adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Just spare me anything with zombies.

My heart always goes out to Charlotte. I just could not have made that choice. I don’t have or even want to have the patience to marry for security. She was practical and no one made her marry Collins.

After reading about book club member Cortney’s footnotes in her annotated version, I went over to my library’s website and did some research. I found an interesting short article that hypothesized that Lady Catherine’s social standing wasn’t what she presented or that at least at one point in life her ideas about class weren’t what they are during the novel.

Rosings, as Austen says, is a modern—that is, Georgian—building, and its
glazing came at Sir Lewis de Bourgh’s expense. It was not uncommon for the
daughters of nobility, like Lady Catherine, the daughter of an earl, to marry
wealthier men of lower social rank but higher economic standing. In fact, her
late sister, Lady Anne Darcy, did just this: she married Darcy’s father, who
came from the “honorable [. . .] though untitled” (394) family that owned
Pemberley, which is obviously not a “modern” building, as its library holdings
are “the work of many generations” (41). The wealthy commoner husband
certainly gained prestige by marrying a wife who retained her paternal courtesy
title, as Ladies Catherine and Anne did.

When Lady Catherine visits Elizabeth to command her not to marry
Darcy, she states that both the Darcys and the de Bourghs are “ancient”
families (394).4 But is Lady Catherine’s veracity to be trusted? In her
angry hysteria at this moment, she also insists that her nephew, Darcy,
and her daughter, Anne, “are destined for each other by the voice of every
member of their respective houses” (394). Yet Darcy himself neither
believes this promise nor chooses his life’s mate with regard for any such
promise. Moreover, the convivially chatty, even gossipy, Colonel Fitzwilliam
never mentions any intention of his cousins to marry. Indeed, when
the Colonel tells Elizabeth that Darcy is procrastinating on their departure
from Rosings, he has no idea why and never surmises that it has anything
to do with a potential de Bourgh–Darcy marriage.

Even if the de Bourghs are an “ancient,” extremely wealthy family, as Lady
Catherine insists, Austen suggests that they did not have a great country house
until Sir Lewis de Bourgh built Rosings. Not only does the narrator undercut
Lady Catherine’s pride by giving her a “modern-built house,” rather than a
distinguished older house, but the man who paid for the house’s original glazing
and the man who brags about its costs do, too.

RAY, JOAN KLINGEL.Pride and Prejudice: The Tale Told by Lady Catherine’s House.” Explicator 2008: 66. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 2 May 2012.

I do wonder what happens to these characters after the story’s end. I haven’t read any of the modern sequels expecting that none would meet my expectations.

Has anyone else read any of them? Any recommendations?

C. E. Brock illustration for the 1895 edition ...

C. E. Brock illustration for the 1895 edition of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Posted by on May 5, 2012 in British Lit, chick lit, classic


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Moby Dick, Part 1

Illustration from an early edition of Moby-Dick

Illustration from an early edition of Moby-Dick (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

May’s book club read is Moby Dick. When I saw Moby Dick on the roster, I sort of groaned. I haven’t read it before but it’s reputation proceeds it. I braced myself for boredom once I passed the first sentence: Call me Ismael.

Though I’m only 40 pages in, I want to break the stereotype. So far Moby Dick is witty and engaging. While I’m still suggesting we change our schedule to allow two months for this novel, I don’t dread reading it.

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Posted by on May 5, 2012 in American Lit, classic


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