Sunday, April 02, 2006
Really Old Chick-Lit (Ahh... Still Fresh!)
Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice has kept well over the last 195 (give or take one) years. I am more wary of pre-20th century classics than I would like to admit as an educated reader. Pride & Prejudice turned out to be well worth my attention.
I was surprised by just how likeable Elizabeth Bennet was, and how quickly I came to understand her world and her position in it. Elizabeth (or Lizzy) is a very multi-dimensional lady with a good mind of her own. Her mother is comicly frustrating, and her father is very strange, but also very loving, especially of Elizabeth. I was slow in understanding Mr. Darcy, but then so was Elizabeth. Mr. Collins' paragraphs are rather tiring, but he can be simultaneously amusing. Miss Jane Bennet is often the sugar to counter her sister Lizzy's spice.
Since I know no women who have only the goal of marriage on their minds, and several for whom it is not necessarily a goal at all, I was skeptical of a story all about a girl (Elizabeth), her four sisters (Jane, Mary, Kitty & Lydia-- no brothers) and her mother's obsession with marrying them off. Well, that appears to be the point of the story at first, anyway, but it soon turns out that it is really about being blinded by (Oh, guess!) PRIDE and PREJUDICE. According to the information in the front of my copy, the original manuscript that Jane Austen wrote for this book was titled First Impressions, and there are certainly lessons to be learned here about first impressions.
I realize some people might find it offensive that I have labeled such a classic as "chick-lit", but I will not apologize. Honestly, I feel that Pride & Prejudice would appeal to very much the same sort of reader that enjoys intelligent, witty modern chick-lit.