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Reviews of Pride and Prejudice (1813)

Review by tempest_gypsy (2006-09-18)
"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen, is one of the long adored classics of romantic literature, and, I feel, for good reason. It tells the story of the Bennet Family, mother, father and their five daughters, their relations, neighbors, and fortunes over the course of about a year.
Despite its being written nearly 200 years ago, it is perfectly comprehensible today. The customs and society of that time are very different than our own, much slower, and with more value placed on society, manner and honor, though about the same placed on appearances. Even so, while the setting may not be precisely understood, it is the characters, and the strength of their portrait that carries the story.
The main character is Elizabeth Bennet, second child and her father's favorite. Through her eyes the reader witnesses the elopement of her younger sister, the heartbreak of her elder, and the absurdity of the rest of her family. Her counterpoint is the proud Mr. Darcy, whom she spends half the book despising and tormenting, and the other half adoring.
The main themes are love, class, and marriage, and the necessary relationship between the three. While all the daughters seek love, it is not the only, or indeed, even always the foremost concern for them in getting a husband. For, get a husband they must; their father's fortune is not sufficient to sustain them after his death.
The writing is very wittily done, and the best strength is in the vividness of portrayal of the various characters. The language is very formal to our ears, but perfectly comprehensible, and I believe has improved my own English, somewhat.
If you seek a book of adventure, where the action moves rapidly, and fact or personality is second to fun and action, I do not recommend "Pride and Prejudice." You will be quite bored. However, if you enjoy subtle wit, strong personality and a knowledge of the books "everyone should read," Jane Austen in general is well worth your time.

Review by immrsdarcy (2006-05-28)
This book is hands down one of the BEST novels ever. I mean, what more could you want from a novel than what you get in Pride and Prejudice. It is simply brilliant because:
1) Jane Austen is really funny in her own smart way
2) The setting is beautiful and the characters are so strong and different from one another
3) This novel contains the BEST, most incredible hero EVER, Mr. Darcy! I simply LOVE Mr. Darcy. Really, after you get to know Mr. Darcy, you fall in love and in your own life you won't settle for anything lower than him and you shouldn't
4) You can understand it even though it is a classic.
5) You can relate because there is a little bit of Lizzie inside of us all and we all feel as if we're going through her problem all the time.

Review by mrs2na (2005-08-20)
Absolutely one of my favourite books ever. I'm sure many people know the story from movies and TV mini-series, etc, but reading it is so much more fulfilling. The language is beautiful ... not only is it a lovely romance, but I think a lot of people don't know how witty Jane Austen's writing is! She is one of the few authors I've read not just to read a story, but to really experience the English language. Judging from previous reviews of this book and my brother, I do not recommend this book for boys/men who sit in front of a monitor playing video games all day.

Review by pantea (2004-09-15)
Today, Tomorrow and forever, Darcy is perfect. One of the most enchanting love stories of all times.

Review by mojosmom (2004-05-03)
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

With that, one of the most famous opening lines in English literature, begins the saga of the Bennett sisters, and how they found, or didn't find, happiness and husbands. Austen is brilliant in her ability to capture and caricature her society. Witty and philosophical by turns, hers is a body of work that can be appreciated any place, any time.


Review by mwisse (2003-03-10)
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a
good fortune must be in want of a wife."

Perhaps the most famous opening sentence in English fiction and which witty tone holds true for the rest of the book. Pride and Prejudice is usually described as a "comedy of manners", which some people regard as a euphemism for "romance novel. This misses a nuance though. A comedy of manners concerns itself not just with romantic relationships, but with all sort of relationships between people. In the case of Pride and Prejudice, while romance is a central part of the story, it's not the only part. It's not just about "boy meets girl and they fall in love". It's also about class, position in life, proper behaviour and family.

I read this mainly on the instignation of my girlfriend, a dedicated Jane Austen fan. It cost me some trouble finishing it. I'm not sure why. The way Pride and Prejudice is written is surprisingly modern, the language used clear, understandable and without the pomposity and archaic air of some later, 19th century writers. Yet still it took me longer to read then books of a similar length usually take me. Perhaps this was because I read it piecemeal, during commutes and lunchbreaks, instead of sitting down for it and reading it in one go. I have the feeling that the latter method works better with this book and in fact I did read the last quarter or so in one installment, quicker then the previous three quarters.

The main protagonist is Elziabeth Bennett, one of five daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, for whom have to be found suitable husbands. their father is not rich enough to provide for them and Mrs. Bennett after his death and to make manners worse his estate was entailed to a distant relation in the absense of a male heir. It is then not very remarkable that the coming of a marriageable young man to the district, as alluded to in the opening sentence, should be cause for much agitation.

For Elizabeth, the main cause of agitation is not as much the aforementioned young man, Mr Bingly, as his friend, mr. Darcy. Darcy is a cold, aloof snobbish man whom she dislikes instantly and the feeling seems to be mutual. In his case however, it quickly evolves into something else, something like love, if grudgingly.

This is the central plot thread of the story, around which a number of subplots are twisted, reinforcing the theme of the novel, of the importance of marriage and love. In one subplot the distant relative to which the estate of mr. Bennett will fall turns up out for marriage to a suitable young lady and who finds one willing to do so not out of love, but because that way she is provided for. In another one of Elizabeth's younger sisters elopes with her lover, shaming the family unless the two are married quickly.

Unlike a modern romance novel, underlying all the romance in here is a hard truth of economics, of marriage being the only option for a young lady, of having to marry to be provided for, of having to maintain one's social position or better it by marriage. The modern notion of romantic love as the only acceptable reason for marriage is not to be found here; even the characters who do marry out of love are quit clear on the social and economic aspects of marriage too. This may make it somewhat harder for a modern reader to get underneath the skin of the characters, as I found.

However, the characters do ring true. All of them are fully realised people, with their own foibles and strengths and Elizabeth Bennett in particular is wonderful. the other aspects of the book are done very well too: the pacing is just right, never slacking and the dialogue is sharp and witty. The general tone of the book is light, but serious. There's plenty of humour in the depictions of some of the secondary characters, some of which are broad satires. There's for instance the reverend Collings, with his insistance on doing the Proper Thing and his fawning respect for his social superiors. It's this satire which is responsible for the reputation for wittiness Pride and Prejudice has.

All in all this book lived up nicely to its reputation.

(Taken from my booklog at http://www.cloggie.org/books/)

Martin Wisse

Review by andrew137 (2003-03-07)
I did this book as part of an English GCSE course (the exam taken by most school children when they turn 16). People seem to have very varied opinions on this book, although obviously it must have something about it just for being remembered all this time later.

I found this book excrutiatingly boring. It's about five daughters in around the same period as the book was written (early eighteen hundreds), who live as part of a definitely upper-class family - that much I remember - and apparently the book is about their mother trying to marry them off to various people. It took us many lessons as a class to read through it from start to finish, and it just droned on, chapter after chapter. I don't ever remember noticing any sort of beginning or end, and was unable to recall the names of more than two or three of the daughters when I'd finished.

The girls in the class however generally seemed much more eager and interested, and this was the case with the video(s) (something like five hours long) too. Hopefully more people will submit views on the book to give an idea what it was about.

Review by Tamarah (2003-03-07)
"Pride and Predjudice" was a book I commonly read while I was growing up. It is simply the tale of protagonist Elizabeth Bennet and the antagonist William Darcy, and the evolution of their emotions as they age and witness the romances and emotional pitfalls of their peers and siblings. I had always found this book interesting because it follows the love lives of many characters, but rarely does anyone ever fall in love and subsequently marry; it is a very real book where people refuse proposals for various reasons, or marry for shallow purposes. It is not suggested to read one chapter at a time, but as a happy romance novel that follows the coming of age of 19th c. English folk through wars, class struggles, gambling problems and stubborn hearts.




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