Pride and Prejudice stood through time. Crossed cultural boundaries. Translated to hundreds of languages. Studied in an English Class. Inspired aspiring writers. Mirrored the early 19th century England. The only thing that a contemporary reader can ask would be how beautiful it is.
I don’t know if its true but they say Jane Austen started the brigade of Chick Lit, a genre of fiction featuring a female protagonist, often in a humorous ambiance, mostly includes romance and requires less thinking of its readers. I find it likely true if one stripped the language into a contemporary tone, remove the setting from its place, replace with a quirky cover. But it will likely ruin the book.
The novel highlights the economy of the 19th century England, including its system. In the author’s days, it reveals the woman is in need for a man for economic benefits and reputation and least likely for love. The women are powerless and inferior compared to man unless they have money or of in a higher position.
All of which started when Mr. Bingley with his friend Darcy go to Netherfield, renting for an estate. The place throws a party for their visit where Elizabeth Bennet, an opinionated and intelligent 20-year old woman, meets Fitzwilliam Darcy, a proud and rich man. They don’t get along well since Darcy won’t engage to any person whom he haven’t yet acquainted, knew or simply if the person is out of his league. However, Mr. Bingley, an agreeable and rich man, falls in love with Jane, Elizabeth’s daughter. By then, Darcy frequently meets Elizabeth where their character clash by their Pride and Prejudice.
Elizabeth Benneth receives many challenges on the way, not for love but by common living. Jane Austen have created such that portrays what life is like in 19th-century England: Woman are supposed to sing and to draw, which is the society’s basis for her to be attractive and agreeable; only a man is allowed to inherit an estate; they are encouraged to be married to a rich man as early as they can.
The beauty of the book lies in the its characters. Austen have created a brilliant and vivid characters that they seem like a real person or someone you know or someone you don’t know but you want to meet. Every word they utter reveals their character. In fact, you will seldom encounter a passage describing the place or environment. The whole novel focuses in character development and their relationship. Pride and Prejudice is also filled with witty remarks and words of wisdom. The book has an attitude.
What lacks in the book is the tangible descriptions. We can’t know the furniture’s designs, the room’s view, the landscape’s build, etc. Perhaps, Austen thought that only local people would only read her work, that she didn’t planned of it being read by millions. With that, I recommend you to watch the movie-adaptation or the BBC mini-series or better yet both.
A contemporary reader will somehow ask what is the trouble in reading this classic. I dare say there are many: unbearably long paragraphs, confusion of pronoun antecedent and indirect words. True, some paragraphs is as long as a whole page or sometimes jumps to the next page and it will merit you weary eyes. At some point, pronouns gets cramped in a paragraph that it confuses you who’s Austen referring to. Upon the confusion, you will read the preceding the paragraph again. So don’t blame yourself if you finish it long enough like you have already read two books. The words are poetic. It requires close reading or better yet asking a friend for translation, which I did. But rest assured, once you get the hang of it you will experience being yank out of the back sit to the front row.
Unlike other authors, Austen holds the readers throughout the story with conversations. There are times a chapter is only filled with a dialogue but it is well handled that the dialogue themselves do the narration. Rest assured, no matter of how long it is, the content is meaningful and it never gets dull. Certainly rare people can do it and certainly Austen is one of them. Her writing is uncommonly good.
Historical Fiction is not bad after all. Classics are not bad after all. Don’t get intimidated in reading this kind of book. It is a pleasure. It will likely improve you’re reading experience on the next book.
PS: Don’t you just admire Mr. Darcy?