published: 28th January 1813
Pride and Prejudice has delighted generations of readers with its unforgettable cast of characters, carefully choreographed plot, and a hugely entertaining view of the world and its absurdities. With the arrival of eligible young men in their neighborhood, the lives of Mr and Mrs Bennet and their five daughters are turned inside out and upside down. Pride encounters prejudice, upward-mobility confronts social disdain, and quick-wittedness challenges sagacity, as misconceptions and hasty judgements lead to heartache and scandal, but eventually to true understanding, self-knowledge, and love. In this supremely satisfying story, Jane Austen balances comedy with seriousness, and witty observation with profound insight. If Elizabeth Bennet returns again and again to her letter from Mr Darcy, readers of the novel are drawn even more irresistibly by its captivating wisdom.
I first read Pride and Prejudice in Year 9, aged 13, as one of that year’s set texts for English Lit. I, quite frankly, despised English Lit, so it’s honestly a surprise that I actually enjoyed reading and analysing this book. Especially since I never got an iota of the same enjoyment out of analysing any other book in my five years of classes. Jane Austen’s novel also has the (lofty or dubious, you decide) honour of being the first classic I can ever remember liking (and still one of the few I do).
It took me another 7 years to actually get round to rereading Pride and Prejudice, at which point, I came to my senses and realised that my original four star rating was way too low. If I could give this book more than five stars, I would. I love every single aspect of this book (besides some of the adaptations it has, and will (fuck you, ITV), spawned).
If I’m really honest, Lizzie Bennet is second only to Anne Elliott in my list of favourite Austen heroines, but that’s a really really marginal second. Lizzie Bennet is definitely one of my favourite characters in lit, and I’d forgotten how much I loved her until I reread this book. I had also forgotten just how much I love Mr. Darcy too. He may not be my favourite Austen love interest (Henry Tilney took that title just recently), but he has one of the best character developments I’ve read in Austen’s work, if not the best.
Probably the best thing (or worst, depending how you look at it) about rereading this, was picking out all the parts that didn’t foreshadow as such, but were precursors to the big events of the story. Wickham telling Lizzie his whole life story on their first meeting (Lizzie. Lizzie my girl. What trustworthy man tells you his whole life story the moment you meet him? No one, that’s who), “Will the shades of Pemberley be thus polluted?”, “You are the last man I could be prevailed upon to marry.” Knowing what’s going to happen later only enhanced my enjoyment of the novel.
Really, one of the reasons this, and other Austen novels, are among my favourite classics (when I will admit I rarely enjoy classics) is because of the writing. It’s always lighthearted and vaguely mocking (Northanger Abbey more than most, I’ve found), and as far as classics go, it’s very easy to read. And one of the major reasons I don’t read a huge number of classics is because I have trouble with the writing (The Brothers Karamazov is case in point. It took me about 10 months to get 170 pages in). So it’s really refreshing to read Austen’s writing.
So, in case it wasn’t already clear, I love Pride and Prejudice with all my heart. So much so that I’m currently trying to stave off the desire to reread right now, only two weeks after I read it last.