"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners--one of the most popular novels of all time--that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the "most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author's works," and Eudora Welty in the twentieth century described it as "irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be."
It's hard to believe that Jane Austen wrote the sophisticated and acerbic PRIDE AND PREJUDICE when she was only 21 years old, in 1797. Originally entitled FIRST IMPRESSIONS, the novel was rejected, revised, retitled, and finally published--anonymously--in 1813, only four years before Austen's untimely death. In PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, Austen calls on her sharp observations of vanity, venality, pomposity, and downright nuttiness in a story about a respectable but far from wealthy family full of daughters--girls who desperately need to find husbands if they are to have any kind of economic security. The eldest of the Bennett family, Elizabeth, is a bright, opinionated, and complacent young woman whose reaction to an offer of marriage from her wealthy but impossibly arrogant suitor, Fitzwilliam Darcy, is revulsion. But in the course of the story both Elizabeth and Darcy learn important lessons about their own folly and blindness, and about the dangers of superficial judgements. As the two perform their elaborate courtship dance, Austen surrounds them with some of her most uproariously clueless characters--from the wacky Mrs. Bennett to the wonderfully unctuous Mr. Collins, another of Elizabeth's admirers. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is, of course, a highly satisfying and offbeat love story, but it is also an unparalleled examination of human nature at both its best and its hilarious worst.
- Fiction + Literature Themes, Fiction + Literature Genres
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- October 1, 2000
- October 1, 2000
- Jane Austen