“Pride is a very common failing I believe… human nature is particularly prone to it, and 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.” [p36]
Ah, one of the most widely read books in history – the pressure! But since Ms. Austen’s Emma is the reason I received a D in one of my English Lit exams, I’ve held a bit of a grudge.
There’s no denying the woman can draw realistic, fallible characters and relationships worthy of study, but her writing isn’t the clearest or as grammatically precise as a modern reader might like. That’s why I opted for an annotated edition with her text on the left page and the notes on the right (which included pictures of certain items referred to in the text, like a particular type of carriage and portraits from that time period). Although a particular turn of phrase would occasionally tickle me and induce a smile.
Austen’s romances are very clean, proper and sedate; attraction is based on wealth, social standing, strength of character (honour, generosity, etc.) and appropriate familiarity – in that order, par for the course for this time period. Where’s the fiery passion of a man or woman in love? Austen also heavily relies upon misunderstandings to provide conflict – it’d be nice if she’d changed it up a bit. Propriety, etiquette and social convention are strictly adhered to by her main characters. That’s a bit boring, to be honest. Only the secondary characters are allowed to be scandalously ‘bad’ for us to pass judgement on or to laugh at.
Elizabeth is far more likable than the dreadfully spoilt Emma. She’s quick-witted and cheeky. And Darcy is a clear-cut introvert (and so am I) with a stiff upper lip who needs an intelligent equal to put a bit of fun into his life and ruffle his feathers.
P&P isn’t as compelling or enjoyable as I’d hoped having read half of it last year and the rest almost a year later. So while I enjoyed the coupling and the realistic characters and relationships, I’m not as enthused about Ms. Austen’s works as most.
Don’t hate me.
I was spurred on to find out how many times certain words were used in the text:
53 Fortune / Misfortune
The Prospective Husbands