Friday, June 25, 2010
Reading the Classics with Paul- Pride and Prejudice part 1
First, some business. I don't know about you, but I think the benefit of hindsight this week reveals to me that I have set our weekly reading a little overly ambitiously with this one. I had a difficult time making it through 15 chapters this week and only just finished this morning. So, I think we're going to add a week to our reading which you probably won't even notice aside from a saner page count in the weeks to come.
I think one of the first things that struck me about this story was class (as in economic class), which, if I'm not mistaken, was most likely something Austen was trying to communicate. Even though the poorer of the main characters, the Bennets, are wealthier in their day than I am in mine, there seems to be subtle statements on the characters of those in the economic hierarchy (see Miss Bingley's reaction to Elizabeth's muddy hike to visit her sick sister.) I'm catching a bit of fun being poked at the upper crust although it is to a Marx Brothers film what Age of Innocence is to Taxi Driver as far as subtlety goes.
It also seems to be largely a story about the social processes of getting married or, at least, it seems to be moving in that direction. At this point there are a lot of candidates. There's Mr. Bingley, Elizabeth, that Wickham guy maybe who Mr. Darcy doesn't seem to like, Lydia, Jane, Charlotte, of course there's Mr. Darcy too even though he's shaping up to be kind of problematic in the courtship front, clearly Mr. Collins (almost the first thing out of his mouth), and maybe even a few I'm forgetting. One imagines that in the scramble toward matrimony that's bound to ensue for many of these parties, if hilarity is not inevitable, at least probably some mild chuckling as we read on.
It probably won't surprise anyone to learn that I was especially fascinated by the characters relationships to books. This is a pre-television and radio world, so books provide a hefty source of entertainment to the characters. Some use them as escape or entertainment, some use them as shields in undesirable social situations (Mr. Darcy springs to mind), and some reveal their snobbery through their reaction to certain books (Mr. Collins without a doubt.) I've heard it said that Austen reveals peoples character through their reaction to love. I submit to you that she may also do it through their reaction to books.
At the end of this week's reading, I get the impression that we've pretty much made our way through (or, at the very least, into) the character development. It seems clear that they all have diverse and sundry motives for and against one another which seems to be forming into a nice social satire.
I apologize that this week's response is so short and not terribly brilliant, but we are still mainly in character introduction (maybe a bit of development as well.) We really get into the meat of the book in the near future.
So, for this next week we will read through Chapter 24, which in my edition will take me up to page 131.