Friday, March 17, 2006
P & P Is Still a Winner
Last week I needed a comfort read and as a change from Georgette Heyer I picked up Pride & Prejudice. This time, however, I found myself reading it in a much more critical way. We often say that long-dead authors would never be published today because their books move too slowly. I now think that Jane Austen, at least, is the exception. Her story is fast-paced, there's plenty going on and she "hits the ground running" with each new chapter. For me this was a revelation, because I had not read P&P for several years and my memory of it was obviously distorted by the film and tv versions of the story.
Perhaps this is the reason for Jane Austen's enduring popularity: her characters embody traits we still recognise today and they find themselves in situations we can understand. The clothes and manners may have changed in the last two hundred years, but I don't think human nature has altered all that much.
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Miss Austen was, indeed, a groundbreaking author. In a time when most fiction was gothic in nature, she took a different approach. She had a rare gift of insight into people's character and that combined with her keen observation allowed her to creat characters who, even today, live and breathe and are still very relevant.
You have a beautiful blog, by the way.
I couldn't agree more. Every time I read P&P, I'm struck by its modern feel.
I think a lot has to do with the pacing as well as character. The book gets off to a cracking start, and there's always something happening. The plot twists and turns, and every time I read it, I envy those reading it for the first time, because they don't know how the whole thing is going to work out.
Plot, pacing, characterisation . . . everything is brilliant.
I never tire of reading P&P but have you re-read Persuasion lately? I love the themes of enduring love against the odds and of love being lost and found. I must admit it is my favourite Austen novel. Whenever I go to Bath I love to re-trace the footsteps of Anne Elliot and her Captain Wentworth, it really makes the book come alive!
Jane - Persuasion is my favourite of the Jane Austen novels. I have re-read it more often than all the rest and think it is a more thoughtful than P&P, possibly because her heroine is older (by the standards of the day I think Anne would have been regarded as almost middle-aged!)
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