Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Thoughts on re-reading P&P for the 2137th time

I've just finished reading Pride and Prejudice (again). I generally read it once or twice a year. It's one of those rare books that one can read over and over and over again, without ever tiring of it. (Well, I certainly never tire of it.) I gain something new, some fresh insight into some aspect of the novel, upon every re-read. Here are a couple of the things that struck me as I was reading it again over the past couple of days:

*I sometimes lost patience with Elizabeth. She is such a delighful heroine, it is very hard to be irritated by her. But this time, as I was reading, I tried as much as possible to see things from Darcy's perspective, rather than Elizabeth's. I couldn't help being a little frustrated with her when she misjudges and abuses Darcy.

*I realised just how "light and bright and sparkling" P&P really is. A couple of months ago, I re-read Sense and Sensibility. The atmosphere of S&S is, by comparison to P&P, almost dark and depressing - claustrophobic would be a good way to describe it, as Elinor and Marianne endure months of agony, and, eventually, heartbreak. Austen's wit is at its sharpest in S&S, but much of the irony comes from the speech and behaviour of very unpleasant personalities. The overall feel of Pride and Prejudice is much lighter and brighter.

*I was once again confirmed in my opinion that P&P 05 is, if not the best adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, certainly my favourite adaptation. I've recently watched both the 1995 and 2005 version again - which is actually what inspired me to re-read the book. Matthew MacFadyen is Fitzwilliam Darcy - for me, at least. - As I read, it was his voice coming off the page.

*With each re-read of Pride and Prejudice, I grow to like Darcy more and more. :-) I must join in the chorus of millions of females voices from all over the world - "Why can't there be more men like Mr. Darcy today!!" 

BTW - instead of reading my Penguin Classics copy of P&P, I borrowed a different edition from the library - it's an illustrated Dorling Kindersley edition, recently published. I found it to be quite good - it had many double-page spreads interspersed through the text, dealing with various aspects of Regency life, as well as footnotes explaining various words and phrases not in common use today.

Current Mood: Giggly


Theresa said...

Oh, I agree with all of your comments! Apart from the last one about Darcy, I'm actually quite glad that guys aren't like that in real life. I think they would be 1) scary, 2) boring and 3) not all of them could possibly be that handsome so we'd end up with guys who are more like Mr. Collins attempting to charm women with his... silent gentelmanly-ness?

Oh and I'm reading Pride and Prejudice and ZOMBIES! Yes, they have butchered the characters and most of the book [excuse the pun] but I'm really enjoying it! Although it's kind of a paradox, I love reading about Elizabeth being a butch warrior and slaying many 'unmentionables' with her Katana sword [even though she studied in China... weird.]
I'm gonna do a full review on my blog when I've finished it.

*Big cheesy grin.*

Charleybrown said...

It's interesting that you describe S&S as claustrophobic and depressing. I suppose it does drain us more with watching what both sisters have to endure and yet I have a sentimental affection for that story that I don't notice its heaviness.

I'm surprised that you consider '05 the better version. Although it does a good job for a film version, I find that we don't get as much of a chance to get to know the characters. I'll agree with you that Macfadyen does come close to Firth although I think that no one can touch Colin's portrayal. However, Kiera just doesn't do it for me whereas Jennifer Ehle embodies Elizabeth and when I read the book, that's who I saw!

By the way, I do like having the '05 film when you don't have time to watch the longer series. My 65 year old aunt had never seen P&P so I had fun showing it to her!

The Editrix said...

LOL, Theresa, your comments about Mr. Darcy made me laugh!! :-D I suppose you do have a point. All I really meant was, why can't there be more gentlemanly, honourable men today - they don't necessarily need to have Darcy's temperament. Can't wait for the P&P&Z review! ;-)

Charleybrown - I don't think Sense and Sensibility is a very heavy, depressing read - compared to one of Charlotte Bronte's books, it's quite light and funny! - but for Austen, I think that Sense and Sensibility would have to be one of the saddest, darkest books she wrote. Mansfield Park is also quite heavy in its content.

'95 v '05 - well, the truth is, as good as the 1995 version is, I'd probably prefer to watch the 2005 version and re-read the book, rather than sit down to watch all 5 hours of the '95 one. If you don't want to read the book, there's no doubt that watching the 1995 adaptation is the next best thing to actually reading Pride and Prejudice.

Miss Jen said...

WOW.... have you actually read it 2,137 times?! ;)
That is quite amazing!!!
You have inspired me to read
P&P again... it's one of my favorite
books ever since I read it at 13!!!

Love & Hugs,
Miss Jen

The Editrix said...

LOL, I've lost count of how many times I've read it. . . ;-) Happy reading!

emme said...

I'm always surprised by how many Austen fans claim Pride and Prejudice as their favorite novel Jane wrote. Is it a classic work of literature? Yes! Is it very well-written? Yes, yes! But the characters and plot line don't touch me a quarter as much as Sense and Sensibility does.

I was surprised that you referred to S&S as claustrophobic and depressing. It is definitely more serious than P&P, but I often think that P&P often comes off as extremely frothy and silly--think Mrs. Bennett.

Anyways, I do love both books, but S&S supremely more so!


The Editrix said...

Yeah - keep in mind, though, that "depressing" is a relative term here! Pride and Prejudice certainly isn't my favourite Austen novel - that title would probably have to go to Persuasion - but there's just something magical about the Lizzy/Darcy romance. There's a reason why they're one of the most famous couples in literature! :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow, I love your blog! :)
Same in LOTR, I agree with Ellie!
I hear their voices when I read.
But I think Colin Firth is a MUCH better Mr. Darcy...
I've seen nearly every Jane Austen movie!
Emma and Pride and Prejeduce (the BBC one) being my favorites.

The Editrix said...

Hello, Eärwen! Welcome to my blog! I'm glad you like it here. :-)


Anonymous said...

PandP! Whoever doesn't like that great classic wonderful amazing novel has to see his doctor very soon! LOL! I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who sees SandS as "depressing" and dark compared to the other Austen books. I've told some friends how I feel about SandS and why it's my least fave Austen novel, and they often wonder why. I'm not saying I dislike the book! How can anyone not like a book by the Great Jane!?! I do like it, but I tried re-reading it some time ago, and felt like I just wanted to grab a lighter, more cheerful Austen masterpiece--like PandP! BTW, 2137 times? Seriously? And I thought 4 times for me was a lot! :)


The Editrix said...

LOL! It's nice to know that there are others who feel as I do about S&S. I still love it, I just think it's a lot darker than P&P.