Friday, November 23, 2007

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

"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 incredible sentence Jane Austen draws the reader into her story. Is she serious we ask? 'A truth universally acknowledged' is the language of mathematics, of science, of logic; it is like saying: "we are dealing with self-evident truths--axioms."

How does this statement apply to society? to families? to manners?

Although I have read many articles and reviews on Pride and Prejudice, its perennial enchantment has eluded me until now. What makes this novel a favorite of so many readers after so many years?

The title to begin with, is provocative. Both terms pride and prejudice are applicable to Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy. But prejudice is directed more towards Darcy than Elizabeth. I would have like Jane Austen to use the word 'Prejudgement' as opposed to prejudice because the former word is laden with situational biases such as when Darcy prejudges Elizabeth: "She is tolerable; but not hadsome enough to tempt me."

Ah, the title is also alliterative; and it would have also worked with prejudgement.

Not wanting to walk along the trodden path I want to propose a few personal impressions. First, it is a syntactically flawless--British English at its best-- narrative which is never boring; perhaps due to Austen’s adroit handling of the Indirect Free Speech. Second, the characters are diverse: some attractive (Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, Jane and Bingley) and others picturesque (Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins, Mrs. Bennet, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh). Third, that it is a moral work in which not only good manners and judicious decisions are privileged, but also virtue.

When Plato cast poets and artists out of his utopian Republic, little did he realize that one can learn virtue from literature as well as from philosophy. And that is a 'truth universally acknowledged.'

The writing techniques I employ in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual:


Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse

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