The Great Jane Re-Read: Pride and Prejudice

Time for the great Jane Summer Re-Read! Join me! @emily_m_deardo

(Other links in this series: Sense and Sensibility; Northanger Abbey)

I’ve written about Pride and Prejudice here and here.

And people, there is ONLY ONE P&P movie. ONLY ONE.

(If you want some video, click the second link above).

There is no other version. The Keira Knightley version does not exist in my world. Jennifer Ehle is Elizabeth, and Colin Firth is Darcy, and that is all.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the book!

  • P&P is, without a doubt, the Jane novel I’ve re-read the most. I used Mansfield Park (which is next!) a lot, obviously, when I was writing my thesis, but P&P has been read, straight through, the most. It’s also, coincidentally, one of Jane’s shorter novels. It’s shorter than Sense and Sensibility,  and it’s only 40 pages longer than Persuasion, so P&P is the second-shortest of her novels.
  • The action gets started right away, which is another reason I think it’s shorter. It’s concentrated, in a way. Bingley is introduced on the very first page–the narrative and characters are set, and we’re off.
We're talking about Pride and Prejudice today in the Great Jane Re-Read! Join us! @emily_m_deardo

Mr. Darcy comes upon Elizabeth.

  • It’s so hard to read the parts of this novel where Elizabeth believes Wickham (does anyone else feel this way?). After you’ve read it a few times you just want to yell, “RUN AWAY!” The first time you read it, of course, it’s a sucker punch when Darcy’s letter reveals him about halfway through the novel, and you cannot believe it.
  • I love the scenes of Darcy and Elizabeth at Rosings. It’s just so obvious that they are more alike than they think.
  • We're talking about Pride and Prejudice on the blog! Come join in @emily_m_deardo

    Elizabeth and Darcy, post-wedding

  • I wish we still wrote letters to people. Email is faster, no doubt, but the handwritten quality of letters is so delightful.
  • Georgiana Darcy is fun, isn’t she? At least I think she’s fun. I would love to know more about her, and I wish Lizzie had gotten to spend more time with her. Since this novel is so streamlined, we don’t get the insight into the secondary characters that we do in some of the others.
  • Whenever I read about Darcy’s library, I want to know what’s in it. What do you think Darcy would like to read?
  • Jane told her family the fates of the other characters–both Kitty and Mary end up married, but I wonder what their husbands were like.
  • We're talking about Pride and Prejudice! Join us! @emily_m_deardo

    The Bennet sisters: Lydia, Elizabeth, Jane, Mary, and Kitty.

  • And: Did Mr. Collins ever inherit Longbourn? Or did Mr. Bennet outlast him? (Probably not, but I can see how that would’ve mae Mrs. Bennet happy.)

Share your thoughts about P&P in the combox!

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‘To be very accomplished’: Learning to draw

‘It is amazing to me,’ said Bingley, ‘how young ladies can have the patience to be so very accomplished, as they all are.’

–Pride and Prejudice

I often joke that I was born in the wrong century. Not medically–in any other century I’d be dead–but socially. A lot of my skills are in the old-school definition of ‘accomplishment’, as Bingley talks about in Pride and Prejudice (and which we will be talking about on Thursday in the Jane Re-Read!). I can cook, knit, sew (cross-stitch and mend), play the piano, sing, etc.

‘A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.’

‘All this she must posses,’ added Darcy, ‘and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.’

–Pride and Prejudice

I certainly have the extensive reading down, but I’ve never been able to draw. Really. My brother could do it, and my grandfather, but not me. Art class in school was never a subject at which I excelled. As I got older, I thought I’d never be able to learn it.

But then Melissa turned me on to Sketchbook Skool. This is an online art school, taught by professional artists and teachers. It’s video-based, and each class lasts six weeks. I enrolled in “beginnings,” and I’m in my last week of the course.   I have definitely learned to draw!

My first Sketchbook Skool assignment.

My first Sketchbook Skool assignment.

Learning to draw at Sketchbook Skool @emily_m_deardo

A drawing I did at my grandmother’s house, a few weeks into the class.

(I don’t know why the second one is wonky…sorry guys!)

Anyway, yes, I am really happy with the progress I’m making. The classes have been so informative and I love the teachers. I’m enrolling in another class next week, because in ‘beginnings’ we haven’t covered everything. We’ve done watercolors, pen, pencil, colored pencil, and we’ve learned a bit about technique, but I really need to work on perspective and depth in my drawings.

Learning to draw with Sketchbook Skool @emily_m_deardo

There are times when it’s really frustrating–don’t get me wrong. Some of my drawings are much better than others. But I see something good in every piece I do, so that’s definitely a step forward.

SBS is a great example of how the Internet can be awesome. I never would’ve tried to do this if I hadn’t gotten the recommendation from Melissa, and I never would’ve found these great teachers. I can move through the classes at my own pace, right tin my house. It’s not something I have to leave my house to do, which is nice.

Summer is a great time for experimentation and learning new things–are you doing anything this summer like this? Or can you draw much better than I can? 🙂

Back to Pemberley: The Great Jane Re-Read

Time for the great Jane Summer Re-Read! Join me! @emily_m_deardo

 

It’s almost Memorial Day weekend here in the States, which is the unofficial summer kick-off. Barbecues will fire up, pools will open, and school kids enter the homestretch of the school year, if they’re not already out.

In my house, Memorial Day means it’s time for the Great Jane Re-Read.

I first fell in love with Jane before I went to college. Like most women in the 90s, this is the image that led me to Jane:

Mr. Darcy, I presume. @emily_m_deardo

Yes. I wasn’t drawn to Jane because I was naturally precocious–I was drawn to Jane because of Colin Firth.

There is nothing wrong with that! 

During summer vacations, my best friends and I would spend a lot of time on hot summer days watching movies in one another’s houses. One day, Tiff whipped out her parents’ 6 volume VHS set of Pride and Prejudice. I’d been wanting to read the book, but I hadn’t–yet.

We spent an entire afternoon watching it. And it was glorious. So glorious, in fact, that I went to Barnes and Noble, got Jane, and preceded to read P&P in one big gulp. I used newly discovered Amazon to buy the rest of her books when I was in the hospital later that summer. I read them eagerly, voraciously, devotedly–I underlined passages and made notes in the margins. When I was in college, I chose English Lit as my specialization, and my senior thesis was on….yeah, that’s right….Jane. 🙂 Specifically, feminism in Mansfield Park, and no, that does not mean what you think it means. (In a nutshell, my argument was that we should all be nicer to Fanny Price, and that Jane liked that character, and we should too! I’m Team Fanny! And Hailey basically writes my thesis in blog format in that post. Sort of. Maybe one day I’ll share the thesis with y’all.)

So, every summer, I go back to Jane, starting Memorial Day weekend. This year I’ve started early. I’ve already re-read Sense and Sensibility (Hardcover Classics), and I’m reading  The Annotated Northanger Abbey right now, so I’m also doing this out of order. 🙂 (The order is Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey.) I got a new copy of NA for my birthday, so I wanted to read that after S&S. (Yes, I do have multiple copies of Jane, including the gorgeous Penguin ones that are illustrated here. Seriously, they’re divine)

Why do I re-read her every summer? For a lot of reasons. I get more familiar with the books; they seep more deeply into me. And there’s things I notice every time that hit me differently. I’m not the same person I was the last time I read these books. I find myself liking or disliking certain characters more. For example, I really disliked Emma the first few times I read her book. Now, she’s getting better (but is she “handsome enough to tempt me?”).

I intend, as I re-read these over the summer, to write about each book after I finish it–a bit of Jane notes, if you will. And of course I’ll direct you to my Jane series that I did last year. 

Will you join me in the re-read? Which Jane protagonist is your favorite? Which is your least favorite?

 

The Annual Summer Jane Austen Re-Read! Join me @emily_m_deardo

Emily’s Book Reviews, August

 

emily's book reviews button

 

(I love the sparkle, don’t you?)

What I’ve been reading of late. Some of these are “new” reads, and some are old friends, and some I’ve just started!

Dakota, The Virgin of Bennington, Amazing Grace, all by Kathleen Norris: These are all religious books, which are written as memoirs, and tell the story of the author’s “reversion” to Christianity, starting with her life after college as a poet in New York City, moving to her grandmother’s home in South Dakota with her new husband, and finally, becoming a Benedictine Oblate and diving deep into the history and movements of Christianity. I’ve read her two previous books The Cloister Walk and Acedia and Me, and loved them both. These three were harder to find, but I was well rewarded, especially in the case of Amazing Grace, which is a bit of a “dictionary of Christianity”. Norris takes common phrases in religion (i.e., salvation, Hell, grace, creation) and writes about what they mean to her. Dakota is a spiritual memoir, which links family and religion. Virgin is a bit of an odd read, at least for me; I thought it would be more religious in tone and less about her post-graduation life in New York City, but if you like poetry, this is an excellent read. They are all well-written, but Dakota and Amazing Grace gripped me more than Virgin did.

The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais: The movie previews lead you to believe that the movie is about Madame Mallory, a Frenchwoman with a Michelin two-star restaurant in France, and her trials when a raucous Indian family move in across the street and open their own restaurant. Well, that may be the crux of the film, but it makes up quite a small portion of the novel, but with lasting repercussions for the protagonist, Hassan. If you like to watch Food Network and read cookbooks, like I do, you’ll like this book. It will also make you hungry!

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom: I wanted to like this more than I did. It had a lot of promise in the beginning– Lavinia, an Irish orphan, becomes an indentured servant on a southern plantation in the late 18th century. Though she’s white, she works with the black slaves, and soon considers them her family, even though the master and mistress of the house try to raise her “properly”. Lavinia and Belle, a slave, are the two narrators of the book, and I don’t think it worked very well, in this case. Belle’s portions of the story become less and less, and Lavinia’s become  more central, but since the book is told from only their perspectives, there are gaps in the story as it moves towards its climax. When it ended, I felt as if several chapters were cut from my copy, which was a shame, because I did like it in the beginning. It loses steam, however, and sort of sputters to a close, and I felt several characters were ill-drawn.

The Way of Perfection, by St. Teresa of Avila: I had previously read The Interior Castle, and this book was sitting on my shelf, quietly waiting for me to pick it up, which I finally did! It’s an excellent book, written before Interior Castle, so it obliquely deals with some of the topics in that (probably) more famous work. My copy was very heavy on notes and summaries, which made a bit of slow reading. They were helpful at times, but sometimes I just wanted to move on to the next chapter! St. Teresa is to be read slowly, and not raced through, so this took me awhile due to the deliberate pace I set when I was reading it. Have a pen handy so you can make notes.

Following that: Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul, by Cathleen Medwick: I’ve seen a lot of my friends reading this book, so I thought I should read it too, and get to know more about St. Teresa. I joke that part of my soul is Carmelite, so why not know more about them? (My Confirmation saint is indeed a Carmelite–St. Therese of Lisieux).

(And wow, lots of Cathleen/Kathleens this month! Well, the past few months, anyway)

Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldman: This book was a Christmas gift, and I’m really diving into it now. I love books about writing (see the next entry, too!) and I’ve heard such good things about this one!

The Writer’s Way, by Julia Cameron: again, a gift; again, heard great things. Starting this tomorrow.

The Year of Pleasures, by Elizabeth Berg: This is one of my desert-island books. I just adore it, and it’s what got me started reading Elizabeth Berg’s novels. Betta Nolan’s husband has died, and she decides to sell her brownstone in Boston and move to a tiny town outside Chicago, sight unseen, and have a “year of pleasures”, living in a small town and reconnecting with her three roommates from college. Berg’s trademark attention to detail, dialogue and character are richly displayed here, and I wish the book would’ve had at least 150 more pages. You’ll want music, tea, and bubble bath while you’re reading this!

The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan: A re-read, but it’s been about a decade since I read it, so it’s overdue.

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds, by Jen Wilkin.

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane: Part of the Jane re-read. The end of the book always makes me smile. Next up is Mansfield Park.

Swann’s Way , by Marcel Proust: I keep dipping into it, but it’s time to Get Serious and Read it. 🙂

Wish You Were Here, by Amy Welborn: Another re-read, another book I love. Welborn writes exquisitely of the time immediately after her husband’s sudden death from a heart attack. She took her three children to Sicily, so the book is part travelogue, part journal of grieving, and part religious meditation. It’s fantastic and has many C.S. Lewis like passages.

Seven Quick Takes No. 45

7_quick_takes_sm1

I.
You may have noticed it’s been Jane Austen week here at LA. If you missed them, here are links: Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility; Femininity in Sense and Sensibility; Northanger Abbey’s Unlikely Heroine; The Relationships in Pride and Prejudice. Today is the last day in the series, so I’ll have a post on that up later today (on Emma, I think).

II.

And, also, here are my retreat recap notes.

III.

This week I also turned 32 (on Wednesday). Yeehaw! I always get excited when I get a year older. I defy people who do not acknowledge how old they are. 🙂 I had a really nice birthday, got lots of books and got myself some Doctor Who Series 2 on sale, so even better. We had ice cream cake and there were hockey victories and overall it was glorious.

IV.

OK, so on Goodreads, I notice that everyone who reads Moby-Dick likes it but me. Am I the only one who really despises it, or are my friends on GR just crazy literate and/or nuts? Help?

Fun fact: I actually got into an argument with one of my boyfriends about this topic. That’s my life, folks.

V.

Rehab continues apace. It seems to be going really well so we might actually extend it. I’m fighting a cold so I’m going to be on increased steroids, which means I’ll probably want to eat the table. Oh well. Whatever, right? Could be worse. I have to do the treadmill today–dratness–but it’s also Friday so that’s happy.

VI.
Today is also National Blue and Green Day for Organ Donation Awareness. Are you an organ donor? If not, please be one.Thank you. I’ll be at Lifeline of Ohio’s Candlelight Vigil for Donation tonight. Actually, all of April is Donate Life Month. It’s very a propos for me. So, if you’re not an organ donor–be one? Please? 🙂

VII.

And finally: went to yoga class this week for the first time in a long time. It was pretty epic and I had a blast.

“Oh, Mr. Bennet!”: The relationships in Pride and Prejudice

Note: in this piece, I quote a lot form the source novel, so I’ve put in page numbers. I use the Oxford World Classics 1998 edition of all of Jane’s novels for my “scholarly” work, and they’re the ones I recommend. 

Elizabeth (Jennifer Ehle) and Darcy (Colin Firth) on their wedding day in the BBC's Pride and Prejudice adaptation.

Elizabeth (Jennifer Ehle) and Darcy (Colin Firth) on their wedding day in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice adaptation.

Today’s Dominicana post, “Love and Friendship”, focuses on the variety of relationships in that perennial favorite, Pride and Prejudice. The author is calling them all “friendships”, as opposed to breaking them down into friendships as we usually think of them, and marriages, but indeed, marriages should be founded on a friendship. However, I believe the author is a bit too hard on poor Charlotte Lucas, for one:

In the case of Charlotte, she is well aware of her position in society and that her future economic security depends greatly upon her marriage, but she is also aware of the silliness and shallowness of Mr. Collins and the little hope she has of ever esteeming him. Nevertheless, she not only welcomes his overtures, but even seeks them. In these marriages, there is no proper foundation of mutual care and respect for the other.

Charlotte wants to be married. That’s all. And her economic security does not depend “greatly” upon her marriage–it almost entirely depends on her marriage. Charlotte has a brother, yes, but that doesn’t mean that he would be so magnanimous (as Jane’s brothers were) to provide for his unmarried sister once he inherits Sir William’s holdings after his death. In fact, Sense and Sensibility demonstrates how the miserliness of a brother after the death of a father can impoverish the women to a large degree. Jane knew this only too well, having had to leave her childhood home after the death of her father and live sporadically in other places throughout England, always at the mercy and financial support of her brothers.

Now, is Charlotte happy with Mr. Collins? (Oh, come on, who could be happy with Mr. Collins) Probably not. But as Charlotte tells Lizzy herself:

I am not romantic, you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’ character, connexions, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair, as most people can boast upon entering the marriage state.(Pride and Prejudice 96)

Charlotte has made her decision that will best ensure her survival, in a sense. So as for “welcoming” and “seeking” his overtures, as the Esteemed Brother states in his piece, Charlotte probably welcomed and sought them because she wanted the security of marriage. That must be taken into account.

The second example of matrimony the author presents is that of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet:

Mr. and Mrs. Bennet provide a prime illustration of the risk that such couples run if they do not base their marriage upon a solid relationship. Mr. Bennet has found that he cannot esteem his wife, while Mrs. Bennet does not care for that esteem and respect. As a result, their household crumbles beneath them, to which Lydia’s unrestrained, unprincipled behavior testifies.

I don’t think Mr. Bennet “has found” that he cannot esteem his wife–I think he knew what he was marrying. Mrs. Bennet is much like her younger daughters, in that she’s flighty and unserious and sort of all over the place. However, she isn’t entirely an idiot. Her predictions of her children’s matrimonial fates do come true at least twice. Mrs. Bennet is what she is, and Mr. Bennet is what he is. In my opinion–and, dare I say, in Lizzy’s!–more of the fault for Lydia is laid at Mr. Bennet’s feet, than his wife’s. In a scene with Lizzy in his room before Lydia goes off to Brighton, Elizabeth says,

‘Excuse me–for I must speak plainly. If you, my dear father, will not take the trouble of checking her exuberant spirits, and of teaching her that her present pursuits are not to be the business of her life, she will soon be beyond the reach of amendment. Her character will be fixed, and she will, at sixteen, be the most determined flirt that ever made herself and her family ridiculous.’ (P&P 176-177)

Note that Elizabeth talks to her father, and not her mother–she knows that the only parent who could be bothered to do it is her father, since Mrs. Bennet loves Lydia the best of all her children. But Mr. Bennet doesn’t check her; he instead aims for peace in the household, as opposed to taking “trouble” to check his youngest daughter. This has troubling consequences later on, as we see.

Finally, we come to that great couple–Elizabeth and Darcy. Here’s what the article says about their relationship:

Elizabeth does find the man she can love and respect in Mr. Darcy. Though one might suspect she harbors a trace of the mercenary motive given that her affection began once she had been to Pemberly, the narrator provides enough insight into her thoughts to assure the reader that Elizabeth’s affection is founded upon her growing respect for Mr. Darcy’s taste and true, generous character. Likewise, while Darcy’s love may have initially begun as a sort of infatuation with her unorthodox beauty and playful character, he grows to truly appreciate and esteem her character.

If one suspected her of mercenary motive, they have clearly read the text wrong, for in that discussion with Jane, it continues with:

Another entreaty that she would be serious, however, produced the desired effect; and she soon satisfied Jane by her solemn assurances of attachment. (Pride and Prejudice 286)

And is further boosted by the conversation she has with her father:

‘Have you any objection,’ said Elizabeth, ‘than your belief in my indifference?’

‘None at all. We all know him to be a proud, unpleasant sort of man; but this would be nothing if you really liked him.’

‘I do, I do like him,’ she replied, with tears in her eyes, ‘I love him. Indeed he has no improper pride. He is perfectly amiable. You do not know what he really is; then pray do not pain me by speaking of him in such terms.’….

Elizabeth, still more affected, was earnest and solemn in her reply; and at length, by repeated assurances that Mr. Darcy was really the object of her choice, by explaining the gradual change which her estimation of him had undergone, relating her absolutely certain that his affection was not the work of a day, but had stood the test of many months suspense, and numerating with energy all his good qualities, she did conquer her father’s incredulity, and reconcile him to the match. (Pride and Prejudice 288, 289).

As far as Darcy’s love, one cannot use the word “infatuation” and Darcy together! As he tells Elizabeth in the famous first proposal scene, he has tried to not love her, with everything in his power. “In vain I have struggled,” he tells Elizabeth. He is almost overcome with love for her, like it’s a wave washing over him.

Of course, one wishes to have a marriage partner you have a deep friendship with, first. But in Jane’s time, that wasn’t always possible, since “marrying for love” is a relatively new conceit in the history of marriage. It is, of course, something that Jane herself held out for–after her first (and maybe only?) love affair was thwarted, she accepted another proposal a few years later, only, after a sleepless night, to recant the next morning. Jane and her sister Cassandra never married. Waiting for love could lead to a rather uncertain existence, but Jane (and many others, throughout history) have found it worth the sacrifices.