Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pride and Prejudice

I'm experiencing something of an England literature renaissance - a few years ago I fell deeply in love with Mary Ann Evans (aka: George Eliot), and I just finished Pride and Prejudice and LOVED it! You know I've got Wuthering Heights up on my bedside table, too.

I was under the impression that I didn't like Austin for lo these many years - one's tastes change, though, and the time was suddenly right for me and her. Honestly, sometimes I have to wonder how Shakespeare gets all the credit for Eng Lit - Austin and Eliot are Just So Amazing.

I love the way she structures her characters - so many of them are caricatures - the ambitious and silly mother, the obsequious Reverend, the snobby gentry, the "good" sister and the "bad" one - but, nevertheless, the main characters, Darcy and Elizabeth, really do grow and change through the novel.

As I read it, I really regretted the English Lit degree that I never got - how I would love to sit around a seminar table and talk about this book for hours, and then write a 400 page dissertation on, oh, something like Romantic Love and Early Feminism. I suppose someone's probably already written that...

Here are a few of my favorite lines:
The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense.

Her own thoughts were employing her. She expected every moment that some of the gentlemen would enter the room. She wished, she feared, that the master of the house might be amongst them; and whether she wished or feared it most, she could scarcely determine.

and, the classic:

You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

I actually read the entire book on my new ipod touch (on a P&P app, no less). The experience of reading my first book on a mobile devise was an interesting one - with a couple of pluses (it's 4"x2" and only weights 4 ounces, I always had it on me, I could read in the dark without bothering husband too much) and a couple of negatives (it hurt my eyes sometimes, I couldn't write in the margins, had to watch the battery). I'm not going to run out and buy a Kindle, but it was handy to have a book always on me.

One thing that I never thought would bother me was that I really wanted to know where in the book I was - I had to keep checking the table on contents to see how many chapters remained. I think seeing how many pages I have left helps me gauge my pacing. There's something exciting about flipping pages ever faster when the plot gets exciting, but all I could do was scroll along a little more quickly. I think some contemporary artists (Krauss, Safron Foer) utilize the paper page in their stories, and I wonder what it would be like to read their work on a screen. Something, surely, will be lost. So, I'll remain fairly loyal to the physical book in my hand, but, as Ann Kirschner writes in her article, Reading Dickens Four Ways, I love reading more than I love books.

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