Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Classics Review: Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride & Prejudice
by Jane Austen

Summary: When Elizabeth Bennet meets Mr. Darcy she is repelled by his overbearing pride, and prejudice towards her family. But the Bennet girls are in need of financial security in the shape of husbands, so when Darcy's friend, the affable Mr. Bingley, forms an attachment to Jane, Darcy becomes increasingly hard to avoid. Polite society will be turned upside down in this witty drama of friendship, rivalry, and love—Jane Austen's classic romance novel.
Ever had one of those books that you've just seen so many adaptations and read so many retelling's of it that you've become so familiar with the characters and the plot and it just feels kind of redundant to read the actual book? Or is that just me?

Anyway... This has always been one of those books for me -- and I'm happy to say that I was wrong. I've always loved the story of Pride and Prejudice and now I'm glad to say I can include the source material in with that too, whereas before it was just retelling's/adaptations of it.

I'm fussy with classics. I usually feel like reading classics--even if I loved the story and characters--is more of a chore because of the writing style. The way classics are written (at least the majority of the ones I've read/attempted) is often so still and formal and wordy, to the point where the book feels bogged down by it...and I was convinced Pride and Prejudice would be one of those classics. And it was. But it also wasn't?

The writing style took some getting used to, but I got into it much easier than I thought I would. And the characters...they had so much personality -- I always liked Mr Bennett in other adaptations but I adored him in the novel (especially the fact that it acknowledges his flaws) and Jane Austen has this pleasantly subtle humour. I hadn't expected the book to be funny/witty, but it was and I enjoyed it very much.

Basically, the writing style was, as expected, quite formal and wordy...but it wasn't a chore to read because it had all these other elements that hooked me. I'd sit down intending to read one chapter and end up reading 50-100 pages in one sitting. The only complaint I have about the writing style is that Austen (in this book at least) has this awful habit of writing the most long and mundane conversations out in full, stuff that isn't always particularly relevant to the plot...but then she'll just sum up, in a paragraph/sentence, conversations that are actually important or interesting (like scenes with Elizabeth and Darcy). That, I admit, got really frustrating.

I don't think I need to go into any more detail about the book than that -- it's one of those stories that nearly everyone and their mother is familiar with.

To sum up: I loved the story before I read the book and surprisingly loved it even more after. And I'm surprised I enjoyed it so much when I expected it to be one of those books that are dated and dull in spite of their literary merit. I thought it was one of those books worthy of being remembered and being studied because of the impact it has had on the world and literature, but not the kind of book you'd pick up for fun.

...I'm rambling. The point of the review is really this: I was wrong. Not all classics are like that -- they can be fun and totally engrossing, they don't have to be difficult to get through or something we only pick up for assigned reading. Like with modern novels, it seems, it's just a case of finding the right classics. And Austen? Totally the right author for me. And now I want to read all of the Austen. Or all of the classics, because she can't be the only author whose work I click with.


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