Pride and Prejudice is a beautifully written classic for the romantic at heart. Jane Austen is a most accomplished novelist, and her take on gossip and matchmaking is still interesting today. Pride and Prejudice provides a thorough analysis not only of the social customs and structure, but also of the motivations and psychology of the people. Elizabeth Bennett is the focus of the book, and her troubled courtship with the difficult Mr. Darcy provides the main point of conflict. The narrative voice seems to be privy to Lizzy's innermost thoughts, but at times it almost seems like the voice is Elizabeth herself, but older and wiser, looking back on her younger self. The narrator is extremely polite, but sometimes does get off a few zingers at the folly and foibles of the people. The negative commentary is mostly conveyed in the voices of the characters, with Eliza Bennett leading the charge. There is plenty of witty banter, and also a lot of drama that really involves the reader. You will wonder how Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth will ever get together, given all the obstacles they face--the main one being that they can't stand each other. How will Jane and Mr. Bingley get together, what with the meddling of his sister and his friend, Mr. Darcy? Even though the story is mostly gossip and matchmaking, you have no trouble reading through to the end, because Jane Austen is a masterful story teller and a keen observer of human nature. Her portraits of the kind of people you meet in the world are surprisingly accurate, which is even more astonishing when you consider that she wrote more than 200 years ago. Her stories have been the basis for many films, both period dramas and updates, because her uncanny ability to capture the various types of people that make up this crazy world rings true. Jane Austen reveals universal truths about men and women, and that is why her popularity continues unabated.
About the Author
Jane Austen (1775-1817) was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction set among the gentry earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics. Austen lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English gentry. She was educated primarily by her father and older brothers as well as through her own reading. The steadfast support of her family was critical to her development as a professional writer. Her artistic apprenticeship lasted from her teenage years until she was about 35 years old. During this period, she experimented with various literary forms, including the epistolary novel which she tried then abandoned, and wrote and extensively revised three major novels and began a fourth. From 1811 until 1816, with the release of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began a third, which was eventually titled Sanditon, but died before completing it. Austen's works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the eighteenth century and are part of the transition to nineteenth-century realism. Her plots, though fundamentally comic, highlight the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security. Her work brought her little personal fame and only a few positive reviews during her lifetime, but the publication in 1869 of her nephew's A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced her to a wider public, and by the 1940s she had become widely accepted in academia as a great English writer. The second half of the twentieth century saw a proliferation of Austen scholarship and the emergence of a Janeite fan culture.
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