Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Illustrated by Hugh Thomson.
Now available in the US and UK: ISBN 1905921055
About the book
Pride and Prejudice, first published on 28 January 1813, is the most famous of Jane Austen's novels and one of the first "romantic comedies" in the history of the novel.
Elizabeth Bennet is the perfect Austen heroine: intelligent, generous, sensible, incapable of jealousy or any other major sin. That makes her sound like an insufferable goody-goody, but the truth is she's a completely hip character, who if provoked is not above skewering her antagonist with a piece of her exceptionally sharp -- but always polite -- 18th century wit. The point is, you spend the whole book absolutely fixated on the critical question: will Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy hook up?
About the author
Born on December 16th, 1775; Jane Austen was the 7th child among 8 children of Rev. George Austen, and Cassandra Leigh. Jane Austen's only sister, Cassandra, was her closest confidante and friend throughout her life, and the other sibling closest to Jane Austen was her brother Henry, a banker and later Anglican clergyman. Henry also acted as her literary agent and it was through his circle of friends (bankers, merchants, publishers, painters, and actors) Jane Austen formed her views about the social worlds.
Jane Austens father tutored her early education until she left for boarding school with her sister. After returning from boarding, Jane Austen continued her education under her fathers and brothers tutelage. Her father was quiet liberal on his childrens upbringing and even encouraged Jane Austen and her sister to continue writing (hardly considered an ideal trait in women of those days)
Jane Austens writing started during her teenage years, which was later compiled as Juvenilia. Jane Austen's first novel, 'Sense and Sensibility', appeared in 1811, and was followed by the favourably reviewed 'Pride and Prejudice' (described by her as her "own darling child") in 1813. 'Mansfield Park' published in 1814, was a huge hit in the public, and was followed by 'Emma' in 1816. All of Jane Austen's novels were published anonymously (her name being revealed after the publication of her nephew's A Memoir of the Life of Jane Austen, in 1870). 'Persuasion' and 'Northanger Abbey' were published posthumously and a final novel, Sanditon was left incomplete.
One of the most studied and debated pieces of literature, Jane Austen's works still have a tremendous fan following and are regularly adapted in various forms of media.
His pride, said Miss Lucas, does not offend me so much as pride often does, because there is an excuse for it. One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, everything in his favour, should think highly of himself. If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud.
That is very true, replied Elizabeth, and I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.
Pride, observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of her reflections, is a very common failing, I believe. By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed; that human nature is particularly prone to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some quality or other, real or imaginary. Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.
If I were as rich as Mr. Darcy, cried a young Lucas, who came with his sisters, I should not care how proud I was. I would keep a pack of foxhounds, and drink a bottle of wine a day.
Then you would drink a great deal more than you ought, said Mrs. Bennet; and if I were to see you at it, I should take away your bottle directly.
The boy protested that she should not; she continued to declare that she would, and the argument ended only with the visit.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.
Mr. Bingley was good-looking and gentlemanlike; he had a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected manners. His sisters were fine women, with an air of decided fashion. His brother-in-law, Mr. Hurst, merely looked the gentleman; but his friend Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud; to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend.
Mr. Bingley had soon made himself acquainted with all the principal people in the room; he was lively and unreserved, danced every dance, was angry that the ball closed so early, and talked of giving one himself at Netherfield. Such amiable qualities must speak for themselves. What a contrast between him and his friend! Mr. Darcy danced only once with Mrs. Hurst and once with Miss Bingley, declined being introduced to any other lady, and spent the rest of the evening in walking about the room, speaking occasionally to one of his own party. His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and everybody hoped that he would never come there again. Amongst the most violent against him was Mrs. Bennet, whose dislike of his general behaviour was sharpened into particular resentment by his having slighted one of her daughters.
The wisest and the best of mennay, the wisest and best of their actionsmay be rendered ridiculous by a person whose first object in life is a joke.
Certainly, replied Elizabeththere are such people, but I hope I am not one of them. I hope I never ridicule what is wise and good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies, do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can. But these, I suppose, are precisely what you are without.
Perhaps that is not possible for anyone. But it has been the study of my life to avoid those weaknesses which often expose a strong understanding to ridicule.
Such as vanity and pride.
Yes, vanity is a weakness indeed. But pridewhere there is a real superiority of mind, pride will be always under good regulation.
Elizabeth turned away to hide a smile.
Your examination of Mr. Darcy is over, I presume, said Miss Bingley; and pray what is the result?
I am perfectly convinced by it that Mr. Darcy has no defect. He owns it himself without disguise.
No, said Darcy, I have made no such pretension. I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for. It is, I believe, too little yieldingcertainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and vices of other so soon as I ought, nor their offenses against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion once lost, is lost forever.
That is a failing indeed! cried Elizabeth. Implacable resentment is a shade in a character. But you have chosen your fault well. I really cannot laugh at it. You are safe from me.
There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evila natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome.
And your defect is to hate everybody.
And yours, he replied with a smile, is willfully to misunderstand them.
Do let us have a little music, cried Miss Bingley, tired of a conversation in which she had no share. Louisa, you will not mind my waking Mr. Hurst?