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P&P: Can we possibly read it again?

I Love Jane Austen

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Edited: Mar 2, 2013, 1:20pm Top

I know, everyone has read Pride and Prejudice to death. I studied the book no less than four times in my English lit program, and the last time I'm almost certain I said, "I will never read this book again." But that's been about 10 years ago, and P&P does turn 200 this year (or rather--did--in January). Would anyone like to read along with me? No pressure--I'm just looking to liven up my read a bit with people who also love Austen.

I'm just now finishing Clarissa (oh my, that sounds so good--I've been reading it for over a year), and I imagine that I'll be finished with it in another week or so. I try always to have a "literary" read going, along with the other books I'm reading, so I intend to read this rather slowly. However, just now looking at the most recent Norton edition (3rd edition) of the book, I see that there are only 254 pages--which is such a nice change, since my Clarissa edition is 1499 pages of that eye-blinding small Penguin font. At any rate, it doesn't really matter slow or fast anyone wants to read it--just read it and put comments here. Or don't read it and comment here anyway. I'm looking for people to keep me company while I read this thing, and I hope some of you will join me!

Mar 2, 2013, 4:39pm Top

I am all for this. I have only read it 4 times, I think. It has been at least 2 years since my last reread. I am actually game for any Austen except Emma.

Mar 2, 2013, 8:27pm Top

Would love to join you!! When do you plan to start?

Mar 3, 2013, 12:09am Top

Oh great! I was thinking about mid-March or so. How does that sound? I was thinking people could just read at their own pace, posting whatever and whenever they want to post.

Mar 3, 2013, 8:22pm Top

Sounds good to me. I'll probably start this weekend. I have two weeks off between school terms!!

Mar 4, 2013, 10:58am Top

I re-read somewhat recently (about a year or two ago) and my TBR list is overwhelming right now, so I won't read again but I'd love to discuss with you all. By the way, when I did my most recent re-read, I actually went with the audio version narrated by Nadia May. She was a superb reader and I highly recommend if you like audiobooks.

By the way, for anyone who loves to discuss Austen's works with others, you might considering joining the Jane Austen Society of North America. There are 70 regional groups in the U.S. and Canada, so there's a good chance there could be one near you!

U.S. regions: http://jasna.org/regions/regional_uslist.html
Canadian regions: http://jasna.org/regions/regional_canadalist.html

Edited: Mar 4, 2013, 3:41pm Top

>5 homeschoolmom:. Sounds great!

>6 sweetiegherkin:. Hi, oh good, please do join the discussion. The more here the better. I hadn't thought of an audio version of the book--that sounds like a great idea. Thanks for the input about the JAS of NM.

Mar 5, 2013, 1:08pm Top

> 7 Yes, I definitely will join in once it gets going.

When I re-read most of Austen's works a year or two ago, I did audio books for all them. That way I could continue reading new stuff while also going back and re-reading these favorites. It worked out quite well. Mostly the audio narrators were quite good also, which is a definite plus.

Edited: Mar 9, 2013, 9:45am Top

I'm planning to use the Norton Critical Edition (3rd edition, 2001) for this read. I'd be interested to know what editions other people are reading. The Norton has a few notes, which are useful. Also included are critical essays, which are more or less useful, depending on a person's interest or background in literature of the 19th century.

I also plan to have on hand Daniel Pool's What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, a very readable reference for 19th century England. It has an excellent bibliography for anyone interested in really digging into this stuff. Does anyone have other references that they've used or like when reading Austen?

Mar 9, 2013, 9:19am Top

Did anyone see the short piece on NBC's Today Show on Jane, marriage, and her time? It aired March 5th. I don't watch the show, so I didn't see it, but if you're interested, a video of the piece is here.

Mar 9, 2013, 11:11am Top

A cautionary note for What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew--while it has some good information in it, it doesn't differentiate between what might have been the case in 1810 and what in 1850. The first half of the century saw huge changes in both material life and in cultural outlook and mores. Also, a lot of JA's adult life took place before 1800, which differs even more.

I just finished Paula Byrne's The Real Jane Austen which is definitely worth a read to give background on the author's life and cultural background.

Mar 9, 2013, 1:50pm Top

> 9 I'm currently working my way through 101 Things You Didn't Know about Jane Austen, which has a fair amount of literary criticism as well as facts about her life. Could be a helpful companion to reading or re-reading P&P.

Edited: Mar 9, 2013, 2:58pm Top

>11 Marissa_Doyle:. Thanks for the post about Byrne's book. I'll be sure to check it out. I think maybe you're too hard on Pool. I think he does a pretty good job of distinguishing the changes in the decades. Granted it's been around for awhile (1993), and there are surely other/better references. This is just what I happen to have on my shelf, because I was last studying Austen in the 1990s.

>12 sweetiegherkin:. I'm glad to hear about Hannon's book as well. My Austen resources definitely need updating.

Mar 9, 2013, 3:25pm Top

> 13 There's been such an explosion of Austen-related things since the 1990s! Now it's more a case of sorting out the wheat from the chaff.

Mar 9, 2013, 3:47pm Top

A fairly recently published book, that I read last month is, What Matters in Jane Austen. Twenty chapters each on a different topic. Very readable.

I'll be happy to join in a group read. Although this is often my favourite of the six main novels I haven't actually read it for quite a while. The last time was an audio version in February 2009, and the reader, Emilia Fox, was a bit disappointing. For some reason this is the only title not to have been read by Juliet Stevenson, who is the best reader for Jane Austen, (and many other books), in my opinion.

Mar 9, 2013, 3:57pm Top

>14 sweetiegherkin:, 15. I appreciate all the posts here so much. I will definitely check out What Matters in Jane Austen. And please do join us!

Mar 9, 2013, 7:19pm Top

> 15 I've heard good things about What Matters in Jane Austen but haven't gotten a chance to look at it yet. Good to have yet another positive recommendation going for it.

When I re-read Sense and Sensibility most recently, I did the audio version with Juliet Stevenson and I wasn't as thrilled with her as a narrator as I would have expected. She was good, but not my favorite. As I mentioned earlier, when I re-read P&P as an audio book, the reader was Nadia May who I liked a great deal, as I have in the past when she read some classics.

Mar 10, 2013, 9:04am Top

I bought a copy of Jennifer Kloester's Georgette Heyer's Regency World. It looks pretty good. Has anyone read this one?

Mar 10, 2013, 11:44am Top

Yes. It was okay--much better as a guide to Heyer's work than as a general look at the Regency period.

Mar 10, 2013, 2:13pm Top

I hope that anyone who is ready to post something about the reading will feel free to do so anytime. I don't think we have to worry about spoilers here--ha.

I'm just a general reader of Austen, meaning that I have no particular expertise in the novels or the period beyond what I've read. I love her work, but I don't belong to any of the JA societies or groups. I haven't even watched any of the TV series or movies. My posts here will be about whatever strikes my fancy on this read-through, and I hope others will do the same.

I've just barely started the book, but I'm struck with how comfortable it feels to be back reading Austen again. I can imagine we all wish she had lived longer and written more, and now that I'm older myself (I'm a newish 60-something), I find myself wondering what a 50 or 60-something Jane Austen would have been interested in writing about? How would she have seen the world differently closer to Mrs. Bennet's age than to Lizzie Bennet's, and what impact would that have had on her writing. Now that my own child is an adult (and still unmarried), I find myself with a bit more sympathetic understanding of Mrs. Bennet. She's not quite the purely ridiculous figure I found her to be thirty years ago.

Mar 10, 2013, 4:08pm Top

It is indeed tragic on many levels that Ms. Austen's life was cut short. It would be interesting to see if she would stick with similar themes and stories (love, courtship and marriage, money) and how these would play out for an older Austen, although it's worth noting that she was still writing about young people up until death at age 41.

I think Mrs. Bennet was always meant to be something a ridiculous character, but there is some legitimacy to her concerns. It's much different viewing it now as 21st century readers, but she and her daughters would have been literally homeless and dependent on the care of distant relations and friends if at least one of the daughters did not marry well. It was an absurd system and one that could cause serious problems for the widow and her daughters -- as Jane Austen herself well knew. There is one moment in the newer film version of P&P (2005 with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet) where I think she is given a bit more of a sympathetic portrayal:

Elizabeth Bennet: Is that (marriage) really all you think about?
Mrs. Bennet: When you have five daughters, Lizzie, tell me what else will occupy your thoughts, and then perhaps you will understand.

The quote isn't from the book, but I think it helps the modern viewer understand Mrs. Bennet's motivations a *little* better.

Edited: Mar 11, 2013, 9:44am Top

>21 sweetiegherkin:. It was an absurd system

Anyone watching Downton Abbey is quite familiar with the concept of the entail, that law of settlements designed to keep estates intact--which is the issue Mr. Bennet is dealing with, the fact that his estate at Longbourne is entailed, effectively making him a life tenant rather than an owner. I think I remember Austen going into this in some detail, but I haven't reached that part of the book yet.

I found a blog post that explains the situation that is so critical to the plot of DA: Downton Abbey Fants - Welcome to the MOST Boring Law School Class. It's an amusing read, and also very informative.

Edited: Mar 11, 2013, 9:43am Top

>11 Marissa_Doyle:. Also, a lot of JA's adult life took place before 1800, which differs even more.

These posts about the differences among the decades, (pre 1800 through 1810 and after) got me to wondering exactly what years were being portrayed by Austen in P&P. There's an article about dating the novel by John Halperin (Dept. of English, Vanderbilt): Inside Pride and Prejudice. (The date for this monograph is 1989--I have no idea what has been written on this subject before or since.)

Halperin writes that those who believe the book was written between 1809 and 1812 "cannot be right." He argues that P&P is a novel of the 1790s, arguing more specifically for the dates given by Cassandra Austen, Oct. 1796 - Aug. 1797).

Mar 11, 2013, 9:52am Top

Did it not first see life as 'First Impressions' and was re-written into P&P? So quite likely the earlier date is right as well as the later one.

Mar 11, 2013, 12:08pm Top

Cold and snowy here today. Time to curl up with the book or watch the tv version for some fun. My four daughters, ages 12 to 3, love watching it. Actually, they enjoy Sense and Sensibility better than P&P.

Edited: Mar 11, 2013, 12:22pm Top

>24 CDVicarage:. First sentence of Halperin's article: "In August 1797 “First Impressions” was completed, having been begun the previous October; and while it underwent some revision – in the years 1809-13, but primarily in 1810 – before its publication as Pride and Prejudice in 1813, there can be little doubt that Jane Austen had it down in fairly finished form by the time her father offered it to a London publisher – Cadell – on 1 November 1797."

It's a long article and he explains his reasoning.

So has someone studied how much or to what extent "First Impressions" was re-written? Is there any way of knowing that?

Mar 11, 2013, 2:30pm Top

> 22 I haven't watched Downton Abbey yet actually. I'm not sure that Austen does go into an explanation of it in the book, do let me know if you get to that part. I thought it was something she just assumed all her readers would know.

> 23, 24 Interesting points. I think CDVicarage is on to something that both may be right. Regardless, Austen never gives dates for her books so there's no really knowing when they are set. (There may be some hints to the dates in what the militia are doing in her books but she seems to be deliberately vague about their movements and what war they might be fighting - or not fighting as the case may be). Her books are clearly meant to be contemporary to her, but that could range within a decade or two, I suppose.

> 25 Perhaps understandable that they would prefer S&S to P&P -- both deal with strong bonds between sisters, but more so in S&S! Hope you enjoy your cold and snowy day safely - and warmly - indoors :)

Mar 11, 2013, 3:50pm Top

Since England was at war with France almost continually from the mid 1790s to 1815 (with a brief time-out in 1802 for the Peace of Amiens), the militias were also a continual fact of life, as fear of invasion before the hobbling of the French fleet by Nelson was a very real thing...and that covers JA's adult life, pretty much.

According to Claire Tomalin's biography, there are no extant copies of First Impressions or notes on revisions--the only thing known is that it was much longer than P&P, as JA mentions in a letter that she "lop't and crop't" it.

Mar 11, 2013, 4:01pm Top

>24 CDVicarage:, 25, 27, 28. Thanks for the posts! Very interesting stuff.

Mar 12, 2013, 6:06pm Top

> 28

re: war. Yes, my point was if she made mention of specific events (i.e., how the Battle of Waterloo plays a big part in Thackeray's Vanity Fair), that would be the clue needed to crack the mystery of when the novels are set! But I think she always veered away from adding anything specific like that to her works. She very much was setting her novels in the domestic sphere, not the international world of politics and war, although we see brief hints of that due to the ever-present militia.

re: First Impressions. I can't quite recall now, but I thought there was some evidence somewhere that Austen originally wrote the book in epistolary format and later converted it to a narrative form -- same as with Sense and Sensibility. Interesting to hear that it was originally longer, I had not known that before.

Mar 13, 2013, 4:05am Top

Actually, Persuasion is set in 1814-1815, in the time between the Treaty of Fontainebleau and Napoleon's escape from Elba. Wentworth is home after having made his fortune in the war, but at the end of it he is again going out to sea since the war is again starting.

Edited: Mar 13, 2013, 1:21pm Top

>31 andejons:. Great point about Persuasion, and thanks! These are the kinds of details that can be found on a close reading of the works, things that her contemporary readers would have known.

Last night I started The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, by Paula Byrne. I suppose she means "real" in the sense of "relating to things," but the double entendre is no doubt intended, and is just (my opinion, only) a bit off-putting. What she writes about is interesting enough; her narrative, on the other hand, seems flat.

I think out of all the JA biographies, I like the Tomalin one the best: Jane Austen: A Life. I think that's the case, although unfortunately my biography collection has been boxed up so that I can paint the upstairs rooms of my house. I enjoy literary biography, in general, and particularly enjoy dipping into them while I'm reading the fiction, so I'm missing having ready access to them while I read P&P.

I also enjoy reading published correspondence collections. My copy of Deirdre Le Faye's Jane Austen's Letters is the 3rd edition (1997). I haven't yet seen the 2011 edition, but if I really get back into Austen again, I suppose I'll get a copy.

Mar 13, 2013, 11:44pm Top

> 31 Yes, thanks for the insight! (Side note: I see you are from Goteborg, I was lucky enough to visit your city a few years back. A lovely place!)

> 32 I wonder if there's anything so very different in the two letters collections. I'm not sure which edition I have actually ...

Edited: Mar 14, 2013, 8:06am Top

>33 sweetiegherkin: I wonder if there's anything so very different in the two letters collections.

According to the note at amazon, she's updated the notes to reflect the research between 1997 and now. There's also a new subject index, which should be hugely useful to JA scholars. There are no new letters.

Mar 14, 2013, 10:52am Top

> 34 Ah, okay. A subject index does sound incredibly useful! I think I have the 1997 version -- at least that's what I have cataloged here on LibraryThing.

Mar 16, 2013, 1:29am Top

I've come to this thread a bit late. I just re-read P & P (for about the 20th time) last month. I would HIGHLY recommend this edition: Pride and Prejudice: An annotated edition, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks.

Prof. Spacks' comments and references added so much to my appreciation of Austen, the book, the language and the Regency era. One of the greatest assets is the editor's early 19th century definitions/usage of words that mean something else (or slightly altered) today. I've probably been misunderstanding whole sentences for years! It also provided background about 18th century literature that may have influenced Austen's choices in the story. And the illustrations and photographs are gorgeous.

If you can find it at your library, it's well worth the read. And if you're a JA fan, it's well worth the expense (or gift request!).

Edited: Mar 16, 2013, 9:56am Top

Thanks so much for the suggestion of the Spacks edition! I'll definitely check it out.

ETA. Although I'm trying to back off on my book-buying (trying not too successfully), I decided that as long as I'm going to read P&P again, I may as well read the Spacks edition. It will probably arrive sometime around next Tuesday, so I'm going to hold off reading anything more for now.

Happy reading!

Mar 17, 2013, 9:51pm Top

> 36 That sounds like a fabulous edition! Love all that extra stuff.

Mar 19, 2013, 4:51pm Top

I'm happy to say I received my Spacks edition of P&P today--Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition, and it's really beautiful. Spacks has included a list of further reading, and I'm going to do everything possible not to order from that list. I've broken my budget for March as it is.

Having said that, in the Introduction she refers to a chapter in Kathryn Sutherland's Jane Austen's Textual Lives: "Personal Obscurity and the Biographer's Baggage" which Spacks says "concisely and lucidly" summarizes the biographical myths about Austen.

I like this: "{N}otes often call attention to Austen's vocabulary, revealing its unexpected obscurities; and vocabulary, as an aspect of linguistic choice, can convey character. . . . Readers need not only to remedy immediate confusion but also to build up a new vocabulary" (10,11).

Mar 19, 2013, 6:50pm Top

Glad you are enjoying the book, and most important, that you can continue reading P & P!

Mar 21, 2013, 8:52am Top

Patricia Meyer Spacks's "Introduction" to Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition is in itself worth the price of the book, IMO.

Mar 22, 2013, 10:38am Top

Since I wasn't very far into the book anyway, I went back to the beginning of the novel in Spacks's edition to read the notes from the beginning.

Has anyone read Richardson's Clarissa? I just finished the book this month, reading the Penguin Classics paperback edition that weighs about 5 pounds (1499 pages of that tiny font Penguin uses all the time). I hugely love the book, by the way, and would recommend it to anyone who is a JA fan, since JA herself was evidently a big Richardson fan.

I'm in Vol. I / Chapt. 3, where the community has gathered at the assembly for their first look at Mr. Bingley (and also his friend, Mr. Darcy). I'm struck by how much Elizabeth reminds me of Clarissa's good friend, Anna Howe, in that she differs from the conventional novelistic heroine (in this example, her ability to laugh off Darcy's overheard insult of her). Austen's description of Elizabeth: "she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in any thing ridiculous." That could certainly describe Anna Howe, as well--undoubtedly my favorite character in Richardson's novel.

Mar 22, 2013, 4:25pm Top

I've read some of Pamela, but it was a long time ago. Clarissa is on the wishlist--but maybe I'll get the e-book version :)

By the way, I think you've answered the your own question--yes, we CAN read P&P again, and get something new out of it!

Mar 23, 2013, 12:23am Top

>43 kac522:. Just be careful which e-book version you get of Clarissa. They're definitely not all created equal.

Mar 23, 2013, 1:10am Top

I have a different annotated edition, and I haven't read it yet. Mine is The Annotated Pride and Prejudice, David Shapard editor. Has anyone done a comparison between the two?

Mar 23, 2013, 2:50am Top

>44 labwriter: hmmm...I just downloaded the free version on Project Gutenberg. Hope it's OK. It doesn't give any information as to the source, edition, etc.

>45 Nickelini: Don't know that edition. Since I am familiar with Spacks, I immediately grabbed her edition.

Mar 23, 2013, 11:22am Top

I'll just be reading my plain old one. School starts this week so I don't have time for luxuries too much. Enjoy reading everyone!!

Edited: Mar 24, 2013, 11:57am Top

>46 kac522:. Referring to Clarissa. There's Kindle edition that I would stay away from. I don't know which version it's based on. I think they refer to this one as the "classic" edition, and it's much-abridged and costs about $4.95.

I think the (free) Project Gutenberg edition is a good version, in that it's not an abridgement, although I don't know which of Richardson's editions it's based on--he put out several in his lifetime. The Penguin edition (1499 pages of tiny type) is based on his first edition.

If someone is looking for an abridgement, I would recommend the one by George Sherburn, published by Riverside Editions (Houghton Mifflin). That edition is about one-third of the original.

Mar 25, 2013, 9:30am Top

Vol. I / Chapt. 4

I'm hearing echoes of Anna Howe (best friend of Clarissa Harlowe) in Elizabeth all over the place. She says this to her sister Jane about Bingley: "Well, he certainly is very agreeable, and I give you leave to like him. You have liked many a stupider person."

Ah--here's Spacks on Anna Howe: "In fiction, the saucy girl plays a secondary role. Samuel Richardson's Clarissa (1748) contains Anna Howe, the heroine's closest female friend, who teases her mother, her suitor (whom she means to accept), and Clarissa herself."

"Elizabeth Bennet is less programmatic than Maria and less aggressive than Lady Honoria; her teasing is largely confined to Jane, in an affectionate mode, and, with more irritation, Darcy. But the pleasure she shares with her father, that of laughing at the ridiculous, separates her from the other women in P&P."

(That's Lady Honoria Pemberton from Frances Burney's Cecilia, Or Memoirs of an Heiress (1782) and Maria Fluart in Robert Bage's Hermsprong, Or Man as He Is Not (1796).)

Edited: Mar 26, 2013, 12:08am Top

> 20 You brought up the question, what would an older Austen have written?

I was just reading chapter 12 from Virginia Woolf's The Common Reader, which is about Jane Austen and her writing style. I highly recommend reading the whole thing as it's quite interesting, but the last few paragraphs are particularly relevant here as they concern Austen's mature style and speculate on how she might have grown as a writer in her later years. A small sample:

"She would have devised a method, clear and composed as ever, but deeper and more suggestive, for conveying not only what people say, but what they leave unsaid; not only what they are, but what life is. She would have stood farther away from her characters, and seen them more as a group, less as individuals. Her satire, while it played less incessantly, would have been more stringent and severe."


Mar 26, 2013, 7:19am Top

>50 sweetiegherkin:. Wow, good catch! Thanks for the link.

Mar 26, 2013, 12:09pm Top

> 51 No problem! It was a very interesting article; I enjoyed reading it.

Mar 28, 2013, 4:24pm Top

I'm a big Austen fan and have been reading through this wonderful thread since I discovered it a couple of days ago.

Thought I'd share a funny infographic that summarizes P&P - made me chuckle.


Mar 28, 2013, 7:05pm Top

#53 - Great fun! I didn't agree with her dictionary choices at the end (peevish? Really? I've been using that since high school), but otherwise, very good. Thanks for posting.

Edited: Mar 28, 2013, 11:32pm Top

>53 jennybhatt:. Hi Jenny. Excellent! Thanks for posting the link, and please feel free to weigh in anytime here. You too Joyce.

Mar 29, 2013, 12:47pm Top

> 53 Thanks for the link, that was entertaining.

> 54 The dictionary choices were a bit odd, but some people do start reading Austen in high school or even junior high school so there's that. Also, some words that are obvious/easy to some are less so for others and vice versa. And this outfit is based in South Africa so perhaps it's cultural also -- maybe peevish is more of an Anglophile kind of word. Who knows.

What I found more odd actually was the part about who would read what books/poetry because it basically came out of nowhere. Who would think Lady Catherine de Bourgh would be reading satire like Swift's A Modest Proposal?

Mar 29, 2013, 1:04pm Top

> 54 and 56 - yes, it might be because of younger readers.

>55 labwriter: - thanks for the nice welcome.

>56 sweetiegherkin: - I found the reading choices the most interesting too. I would have thought Lady Catherine to be more a reader of the religious tracts that the sanctimonious rich read at the time - rather than Swift's satire, which mocked the attitudes of just such sanctimonious rich as Lady Catherine. In fact, I just don't agree with the other reading choices either. Elizabeth reading Robbie Burns - I think she'd be more apt to read cutting satire? Darcy reading Wordsworth, a free spirit - while Darcy was the uptight kind..... one could go on.

It is fun to think about the inner lives of your favorite characters. I wonder if there's an LT thread already about guessing about the reading habits of your favorite characters.....

Mar 29, 2013, 1:54pm Top

I took Lady Catherine's reading of A Modest Proposal to mean that she would have read it as a straight essay and missed the satire. I can see her approving of disposing of Irish babies.

Mar 29, 2013, 2:05pm Top

>58 Nickelini:, Nickelini, perhaps you're right. It's been decades since I read A Modest Proposal myself. I do remember not missing the satire, though..... he gets more and more ridiculous with his rhetoric so there was no mistaking (for me, anyway). But, I see your point - Lady Catherine had no sense of humor and would likely have read it as a straight essay if she had not known of Swift and his reputation.

Mar 29, 2013, 2:39pm Top

Yes, she doesn't seem to be very empathetic to those who are not in her class. I'm sure she didn't see them as quite human.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 6:53pm Top

Elizabeth reading Robbie Burns--yes, I can see her reading "To a Louse: On Seeing One on a Lady's Bonnet, at Church"--one of Burns' best poems about how we see ourselves, compared to how other people see us at our worst moments. Hilarious.

>57 jennybhatt:. I wonder if there's an LT thread already about guessing about the reading habits of your favorite characters.....

I love that idea!

Mar 29, 2013, 7:03pm Top

>61 labwriter: - ah, I stand corrected, labwriter. I do agree, given that example, that Elizabeth would like that particular poem. I was thinking, I guess, more about his folksy stuff. And, how he was a bit of an impractical and emotional lover.....

Re. the LT thread guessing the reading habits of your favorite characters...... I'm tempted to start one if it does not exist, but I don't know that I'll have the time to check in daily and keep it going..... What would be my responsibilities if I did start it? And, where would be the best place to situate it - which group?

Mar 29, 2013, 10:35pm Top

OK - I went ahead and started a discussion thread here in case anyone's interested in adding their comments, which would be great.


Mar 30, 2013, 7:38am Top

Nice job on the new thread, Jenny.

Edited: Mar 30, 2013, 8:59am Top

Vol. I / Chapt. 7

Anyone who has seen the TV series Downton Abbey probably by now has a pretty good appreciation of the meaning of an entail. Spacks does a good job of describing what it means to Mr. Bennet and his family: his estate of "two thousand a year" is entailed in default of a male heir.

Spacks also quotes from an essay by Sandra Macpherson, "Rent to Own; or, What's Entailed in Pride and Prejudice": "{i}t is difficult to fully comprehend the way the novel thinks about the relationship (dynastic and affective) without understanding with some precision the legal logic of entailment." Macpherson writes a 23-page article published in Representations, Vol. 82 (1), April 1, 2003. You can get it through JSTOR if you have access to that database.

Mrs. Bennet had a small fortune of her own, four thousand pounds left to her by her attorney father. Spacks points out that Mrs. Bennet's 4,000 pounds would provide her an income of at most 200 pounds per year, an inadequate sum for her and her daughters to live on.

The militia regiment was to remain in the neighourhood "the whole winter," with Meryton as the headquarters. From Spacks: One thing to know about the militia is that every county provided its quota of men; a "disproportionate number" were from the illiterate poor, although the officers were gentlemen. Militia members couldn't be sent to serve abroad, but might be stationed anywhere in England.

Here is Spacks quoting Mary Wollstonecraft: "nothing can be so prejudicial to the morals of the inhabitants of country towns as the occasional residence of a set of idle superficial young men, whose only occupation is gallantry, and whose polished manners render vice more dangerous, by concealing its deformity under gay ornamental drapery. An air of fashion, which is but a badge of slavery, and proves that the soul has not a strong individual character, awes simple country people into an imitation of the vices, when they cannot catch the slippery graces, of politeness."

Such a perfect setup for the two youngest Bennet sisters, "their minds more vacant than their sisters'."

Mar 30, 2013, 11:31am Top

>65 labwriter:, labwriter - wow, that last quote from Wollstonecraft is rather sharp, perhaps even harsh. Then again, Austen's rendering sort of validates the same opinion, so it must have been true.

Edited: Mar 30, 2013, 1:52pm Top

>66 jennybhatt:. That quotation was from Chapter 1 of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, "The Rights and Involved Duties of Mankind Considered"; the tone of the entire book, if I remember it, and I honestly read it years ago so don't remember it all that well, is pretty sharp.

Mar 30, 2013, 1:59pm Top

>67 labwriter: - oh, yes. I read A Vindication of the Rights of Woman ages ago too - when I was going through my Virginia Woolf phase - she referenced it in A Room of One's Own quite a bit. You're right, the entire book was rather sharp. It needed to be so for the time, so, justified, I think.

Mar 30, 2013, 2:59pm Top

Ha. I wonder what Austen would have made of this Princeton mother: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/03/29/susan_patton_is_very_concerned_f...

Apr 1, 2013, 10:30am Top

Vol. I /Chapt. 8

The Bingley sisters' indifference towards Jane and her illness "when not immediately before them, restored Elizabeth to the enjoyment of all her former dislike." From what I remember of JA's letters, this sounds like an attitude she herself might have had towards various people in her life.

"When dinner was over she returned directly to Jane, and Miss Bingley began abusing her as soon as she was out of the room."

Spacks: "The malice of the Bingley sisters toward Elizabeth indicates their moral inadequacy."

Apr 2, 2013, 10:35am Top

Vol. I /Chapt. 9

In which Jane is better; however, Mrs. Bennet visits and gives over the judgment that she must not be moved (obviously wishing Jane to remain longer at Netherfield).

Miss Bingley is made to agree with her brother that Jane not be moved, but her agreement is only made with "cold civility."

Spacks: "Civility, as opposed to manners, entails adherence to the proper social forms without expectation that it implies anything more."

Mrs. Bennet, at Netherfield to see her daughter, gets invited to stay for breakfast and promptly makes an ass of herself, embarrassing Elizabeth.

"Darcy only smiled; and the general pause which ensued made Elizabeth tremble lest her mother should be exposing herself again."

Lydia reminds Bingley of his promise of giving a ball; Bingley says he is "perfectly ready" to keep his engagement.

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 10:43am Top

Vol. I / Chapter 10

These little pieces from Austen just fracture me. I would have loved knowing this woman. Elizabeth remains at Netherfield while her sister Jane is slowly on the mend. "Elizabeth took up some needlework and was sufficiently amused in attending to what passed between Darcy and his companion {Miss Bingley}. The perpetual commendations of the lady either on his hand-writing, or on the evenness of his lines, or on the length of his letter, with the perfect unconcern with which her praises were received, formed a curious dialogue, and was exactly in unison with her opinion of each."

With "perfect unconcern"--I so love that phrase.

The subsequent dialogue between Darcy & Miss Bingley is killing--revealing and hilarious.

Apr 3, 2013, 10:43am Top

> 72 That is a fabulous quote.

Apr 3, 2013, 10:47am Top

>73 sweetiegherkin:. Hi SG! Don't you just love Darcy, and can't you picture him "politely" ignoring Miss B?

Darcy, writing to his sister and listening to Miss Bingley: "Will you give me leave to defer your raptures till I write again?--At present I have not room to do them justice."

Spacks: "Like Mr. Bennet, Darcy appears to have perfected a rhetoric of ironic politeness."

Apr 3, 2013, 11:00am Top

"ironic politeness". I love it. :)

Apr 3, 2013, 11:05am Top

> 74 Yes, I was thinking that it was such a telling passage. That's Austen for you -- just a few sentences and you learn the character of each of these people and how they relate to/interact with one another.

Love the wording of the Spacks quote and it brings up an interesting thought -- is part of Lizzie's ultimate attraction to Darcy because he is some ways similar to her beloved father? Also raises questions for the future of their relationship -- while Mrs. Bennet is certainly silly, Mr. Bennet does little to salvage the relationship by instead choosing to poke fun at his hapless wife. And Austen is not entirely sympathetic to Mr. Bennet by the end, allowing him to confess that his daughters' predicament is partly his own fault for not saving better in earlier years and also that Lydia's elopement is all his fault (although perhaps some of this is tongue-in-cheek; I recall that some productions/adaptations of P&P play it this way but I can't recall the actual language of the book now). Anyway, some rambling thoughts ...

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 11:18am Top

>75 jennybhatt:. Hi Jenny!

>76 sweetiegherkin:. is part of Lizzie's ultimate attraction to Darcy because he is some ways similar to her beloved father?

You make a good point, I think, and it would be good to watch for scenes with Mr. B and Darcy. As you say, Austen is a genius at presenting character and relationship using a few sentences.

Apr 3, 2013, 11:29am Top

>77 labwriter: Ah, yes, that would be interesting. I don't recall them interacting much. Mr. Bennet is largely "off screen" for a great deal of the book. I think he's absent for just about anything that occurs outside of Longbourn, although perhaps he does attend one ball ?

Apr 3, 2013, 1:15pm Top

Earlier in this thread, we discussed the books/poems that Pride and Prejudice characters might have read. We now have a whole new group to discuss the books that fictional characters might read. And, sweetiegherkin has started a thread just for Austen characters based on our earlier exchanges here.

Do join in if you'd like: http://www.librarything.com/topic/152400

Thanks, sweetiegherkin.....

Apr 4, 2013, 9:55am Top

> You're welcome! Thanks for starting the new group. :)

Edited: Apr 7, 2013, 9:59am Top

Volume I, Chapter 11

Another evening at Netherfield. Miss Bingley is still trying to get Mr. Darcy's attention. "She could not win him, however, to any conversation; he merely answered her question and read on."

Oh, I love this bit about Miss Bingley: "At length, quite exhausted by the attempt to be amused with her own book, which she had only chosen because it was the second volume of his, she gave a great yawn and said, 'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way!. . . . How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!' . . . . No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest for some amusement." Poor dear.

Spacks gives us the recipe for white soup--which can also be found at The Jane Austen Centre website. Bingley tells his sister that they will have the ball at Netherfield: "as soon as Nicholls {his housekeeper} has made white soup enough, I shall send round my cards." Making enough white soup for a ball would obviously be quite a project, even for a houseful of kitchen staff.

Apr 7, 2013, 2:24pm Top

My goodness - that white soup recipe is quite something. :)

Apr 7, 2013, 5:31pm Top

Isn't it though? I love to cook and cooking soup is one of the things I love best. I'm so tempted!

Edited: Apr 7, 2013, 5:53pm Top

Isn't it, though? I love to cook, and I'm so tempted. The only thing that would trip me up is the knuckle of veal. I wonder if regular beef knuckles would do as a substitute? The reason beef knuckles make wonderful soup bones is because of the cartilage in the joint--which creates beautiful super gelatinous stock. Disgusting I suppose if you're a vegetarian, but flavorful and I think actually healthy. There's a saying: "Good broth will resurrect the dead." Also, "Broth to a cook is voice to a singer." When simmered, bones release all their hidden nutrition: minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and sulphur; marrow, a good source of protein high in monosaturated fats.

I'll be sure to post it here if I get around to making Jane Austen's white soup.

Apr 7, 2013, 6:11pm Top

Please do post if/when you make this soup. I'm curious now. I like to cook too, though this recipe is a bit intimidating to me. (aside - I know what you mean about broth. Back when I was living in Scotland, and we'd go around to friends' houses on Hogmanay, my landlady would make sure we all had some "hearty broth" to "line our stomachs" before all the "drinking and gallivanting amongst the snow drifts" - her phrasing, not mine.)

Apr 9, 2013, 7:33am Top

Volume I, Chapter 13

I wonder how other people take this line. Mr. Bennet has received a letter from Mr. Collins, a person he has never met even though as his nearest male relative he will inherit through the entail: "It is from my cousin, Mr. Collins, who, when I am dead, may turn you all out of this house as soon as he pleases."

Mr. Bennet is one of those people who seems to take pleasure in laughing at other people, but doesn't this line spoken to his wife and daughters seem like it crosses a line, even for him?

Edited: Apr 9, 2013, 7:55am Top

Volume I, Chapter 14

Mr. Bennet and Mr. Collins discuss Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

Spacks: "the association with her confirms for {Mr. Collins} his most grandiose sense of self."

Mr. Collins speaks in raptures about Lady Catherine: "such affability and condescension, as he had himself experienced from Lady Catherine."

It's interesting that Austen puts that word into Mr. Collins' mouth. Evidently the connotation of the word was changing even in Austen's time. In Mr. Collins' eyes, "condescension" would have been a virtue--that she was capable of laying aside her rank and being nice to her social inferiors, or, as the OED says, "affability to one's inferiors." Samuel Richardson, for example, is said to have show "great condescension" towards his servants.

But in the OED, we also learn that Samuel Johnson used the word in an essay (1752) in a more negative way: "My old friend receiving me with all the insolence of condescension."

Apr 9, 2013, 9:52am Top

> 86 Agreed, that line is a bit harsh.

Apr 9, 2013, 10:36am Top

#86 - I read P&P after seeing all sorts of film adaptions of it where Mr. Bennet always came off rather lovable. So when I finally read the book, I was surprised at how much I disliked him. This is just one of the examples of why I felt that. Your family is in a pickle, do something! Mrs. Bennet might be annoying, but she's right.

Apr 9, 2013, 8:02pm Top

I've always had trouble with "condescension"--it certainly helps to understand the usage at the time, and how it was changing.

Apr 10, 2013, 3:07pm Top

> 86, 89 Yes, I think Mr. Bennet is generally played as lovable on film/TV/the stage, but there are definitely some lines in the book that point out a different side of his character that is less than stellar. (Although, hey, we all have our flaws, right?) I think I might have mentioned some of these earlier in this thread -- I seem to recall that there's an indication that had Mr. (and Mrs.) Bennet been more economical from the outset, they would have had more money to leave for the girls. Additional money inherited after their father's death would be at least somewhat useful, even if it could not reverse the entail turning them out of their home. Sad to have to say but given the time, it would have also been a useful feature in helping the girls find financially well-off husbands. Instead, the Bennets banked on having a son eventually and spent their money more lavishly then they should have. A second point is when Mr. Bennet refuses to hear Lizzie out about the trouble that could come out of Lydia going to Brighton without her family there (or really, going to Brighton at all), and he later relents that he should have listened to her and better managed his younger, sillier daughters. Maybe the takeaway is that Mr. Bennet was indeed a fun and affable guy but he didn't know when to draw the line on taking the joke too far, let alone how to settle down when matters needed to be taken seriously.

On the flip side, maybe despite that line of "It is from my cousin, Mr. Collins, who, when I am dead, may turn you all out of this house as soon as he pleases." seeming unnecessarily harsh, maybe it was simply Mr. Bennet's way of indicating that he WAS being serious for a change and that Mrs. Bennet and the daughters should listen up to hear some important news.

Apr 10, 2013, 4:34pm Top

>90 kac522:. "condescension" is a complex word--I've had trouble with it also, and I think I finally understand why--because the language was changing at this time. If you have access to a library, then you probably also have access to the online OED. My library card has expired {{rolls eyes--so typical for me, I have "library issues"}}; otherwise I would cut & past here from the OED. One of these days I'll get over there and renew my card.

>91 sweetiegherkin:. I've never viewed any of the film/TV/stage versions of P&P, so all I have to go on for Mr. Bennet is Austen's text. I've never seen him as fun and affable--more like a man who has little respect for the women around him--with the single exception of Lizzie. I think he was someone who didn't suffer fools, and he didn't think much of men who were interested in his daughters, either.

Mr. Bennet's way of indicating that he WAS being serious for a change and that Mrs. Bennet and the daughters should listen up to hear some important news.

I think that's a really good point!

Edited: Apr 10, 2013, 5:54pm Top

> 92 Indeed, that's true that Mr. Bennet seems to be of the opinion that he is better than most of the people around him and has little interest in engaging with anyone who doesn't meet his high standards. But with those he respects, like Lizzie and to a lesser extent Jane, he is all good humor and high spirits.

On an unrelated note, I was reading this article in Slate about Austen's novels and thought I would share: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/the_completist/2013/04/jane_austen_books_rank...

I don't agree with all of her points, but it's an interesting read of Austen's writing style and common themes.

Edited: Apr 11, 2013, 9:43am Top

Volume I / Chapter 16

All five girls and Mr. Collins spend the evening at their aunt's house in Meryton where they meet Mr. Wickham.

This is an interesting chapter in which Elizabeth behaves rather surprisingly--I guess I'd forgotten about her first meeting with Mr. Wickham.

The chapter is filled with Elizabeth gossiping with Mr. Wickham about Mr. Darcy, Wickham's falling-out with Darcy, Darcy's sister, and Lady Catherine. Spacks indicates that Wickham's personal conversation with Elizabeth would have been improper for a first meeting, yet Elizabeth doesn't seem to realize the fact. Or maybe her desire to know more about Mr. Darcy overcomes her better self?

Additionally, Elizabeth's comments about Darcy are indiscreet; Spacks points out that what we see of Elizabeth in this chapter shows a resemblance to her mother. Example: When she tells Wickham that Darcy is "not at all liked in Hertfordshire," that's a statement unsupported by what Elizabeth actually knows or doesn't know about Darcy and has the same sort of over-the-top emotional verbal extravagance as one of her mother's statements. (Oh dear, how Elizabeth would hate being compared to her mother--ha.)

Apr 11, 2013, 4:15pm Top

> 94 I think the point is that Elizabeth is head over heels infatuated with Wickham and not acting discreetly or in a way she would recommend to say, her younger sisters. I think it's less a desire to more about Darcy than it is to know more about Wickham, whose past is tied up with the Darcys.

But agreed that she probably would hate being compared to her mother!

Apr 13, 2013, 12:21am Top

Hi! Can anyone join this conversation?

Apr 13, 2013, 9:19am Top

Jump in!

And I have to ask about your name--are you fond of bunnies?

Apr 13, 2013, 10:46am Top

Terrific! My name is a contraction of Bunny Watson, the research librarian and fact checker from the 1957 Tracy/Hepburn movie Desk Set. Its a nickname some friends gave me a long time ago because I used to work as a fact checker. And so have a head full of trivium.

Bunny said, "“I don't smoke, I only drink champagne when I'm lucky enough to get it, my hair is naturally natural, I live alone." Which is as good an introduction as I can ask for.

Regarding Elizabeth's conversation with Wickham in Chapter 16, I think that Elizabeth does know that she's not behaving properly in gossiping with Wickham. It's not a transgression of major significance. Its no elopement or failing to pay a gaming debt, but it is a little bit of bad manners and she knows it. But its extremely tempting and always has been to hear ill of someone you thoroughly dislike. At this point in the novel she really does not like Darcy, and here's this new, attractive, attentive person with some gossipy dish on the blue meanie. So she fails to resist the temptation.

I think its an exquisite bit of characterization, and in service of the larger themes at the same time. Because here's Wickham who has literally just met Elizabeth and already he's sharing information he should not be sharing. To the reader its a red flag, but for Elizabeth it actually bonds her with him in a moment of shared conspiratorial naughtiness. So already (larger theme) she's being led astray in small things by her prejudice against Darcy.

It seems to me that one of Elizabeth's major character traits is loyalty to the people she loves, and she does NOT like that Darcy put her family down. Even if some of them are silly, they are still hers, and she doesn't like people being unkind to her own. Her frustration with Darcy, and the temptation Wickham offers to sit together in a corner and trash Darcy, its enough to lead her to act against her principles and good taste, if only in a small way.

Apr 14, 2013, 12:28pm Top

> 98 Great movie!

I love your description/analysis of Elizabeth's reasons for gossiping with Wickham so early on in their acquaintance. Definitely lots of good points here.

Apr 14, 2013, 1:28pm Top

I'd like to join in, too, if I may. P&P is a favorite of mine.

I'd like to go back labwriter's point in >92 labwriter: about Mr. Bennett.

I don't think he is particularly disrespectful just to women, but to everyone, including himself. He has realized various unflattering things about himself -- for instance, that he could be beguiled by whatever attractions Mrs. Bennett had when he first met her. He married her by inclination, because it's made obvious that she had no particular fortune or status to improve his lot, and he was comfortably enough established to not be forced into a marriage for money.

His cynical, satirical tongue is turned against everyone -- his neighbors, his family, his society as a whole. His self-disillusionment has twisted into a sharp eye for whatever is ridiculous about everyone. The only person he doesn't tease or make jokes about that I can think of in the novel are Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, and I rather suspect he classes them as he does Jane and Elizabeth -- he might make gentle jibes, but he expects them to have the intelligence to know he's only joking. He uses his humor to shield himself from the disappointments of life and from his own shortcomings. He isn't exactly bitter because he does find joy in several things -- his library and books, his estate, at least two of his daughters, and he apparently is pleased with both Darcy and Bingley. And he takes what enjoyment he can from those things that would otherwise make him angry, bitter, and unhappy -- his foolish, vulgar wife, his silly daughters, his ridiculous gossipy neighbors, his lack of foresight in protecting his family, the disgrace of not exerting himself to control Lydia, his home being inherited by Mr. Collins, etc. He makes fun of them because that's much easier than trying to change the situation (he is indolent, after all) and because it lets him live with what might otherwise drive him down.

I wouldn't call Mr. Bennett a happy man, but he is a man who has made a sort of peace with everything so that he can live without being angry and bitter.

Edited: Apr 15, 2013, 7:53am Top

So I missed coming here this weekend, and here are these wonderful posts!

>98 bunwat:. bunwat, I love your idea that Elizabeth knows she is behaving badly with Wickham, but she does so regardless, enjoying the fact that it was Darcy she and Wickham were trashing. She obviously wanted to make an impression on Wickham, and her willingness to indulge in indiscreet conversation about Darcy gives them a sort of instant bond. Knowing nothing about this Wickham, however, Elizabeth seems to be playing with fire here. She's put herself at risk by exposing herself to Wickham in this way. I'm thinking particularly of the danger that Richardson's Clarissa Harlowe exposed herself to by answering letters sent to her by Mr. Lovelace. Big trouble often starts with a small step. I'm left wondering what impression Wickham had of Elizabeth after this conversation?

>100 Murphy-Jacobs:. He uses his humor to shield himself from the disappointments of life and from his own shortcomings. I think that's probably exactly right. Mr. Bennet has no control over the entail since he has no son of his own, although he must have assumed from the beginning of his marriage that one day he would have a son, and here he is with five daughters to marry off and his estate entailed to a male relative he's never met. His second big disappointment is something that was his own doing--his marriage to a woman who turned out to be ridiculous. It's a good bet that, with his indolent personality, he was attracted to "Miss Gardiner's" pretty and lively spirit, characteristics which unfortunately didn't age well in her. However, Mr. Bennet's personal unhappiness or disappointment with his life is no excuse for not taking a more active part in getting his daughters settled in life. Mr. Bennet, indolent though he may be, is also witty and intelligent, and he should have done better by his girls than to leave their fates to be directed by a foolish mother--as in Vol. I / Chapter 17, for example, Mrs. Bennet seems, in her own mind at least, to have Elizabeth married off to Mr. Collins, a man brought up by a miserly, ignorant, autocratic father.

Edited: Apr 15, 2013, 9:15am Top

Volume I, Chapter 18

The ball at Netherfield.

I've always liked practical Charlotte Lucas. Wickham fails to make an appearance at the ball, and Elizabeth finds herself, much to her own surprise, being asked--and accepting--a dance with Darcy. Charlotte says that, who knows, maybe Elizabeth will actually find the experience to be agreeable, to which Elizabeth answers: "To find a man agreeable whom one is determined to hate!--Do not wish me such an evil."

Charlotte's answer is to tell Elizabeth, in effect, don't be such a ninny--"Charlotte could not help cautioning her in a whisper not to be a simpleton and allow her fancy for Wickham to make her appear unpleasant in the eyes of a man of ten times his consequence."

During the dance, Elizabeth speaks "archly" to Darcy, imagining it would be more punishing to him to be obliged to speak to her than be allowed to remain silent. She seems not to be able to help herself, attempting to goad Darcy into talking about Wickham when she says, "When you met us {in Meryton} the other day, we had just been forming a new acquaintance." What Darcy has to say about Wickham is an interesting contrast to what Wickham had to say about him--unlike Wickham, he doesn't rise to Elizabeth's bait. If Elizabeth were paying attention, she would see that Darcy's behavior was certainly more discreet and proper than Wickham's. "Darcy made no answer, and seemed desirous of changing the subject."

ETA Oh, what a slap down by Darcy: Don't try to put me in a box, love. "I could wish, Miss Bennet, that you were not to sketch my character at the present moment, as there is reason to fear that the performance would reflect no credit on either."

My, Elizabeth isn't having a very good ball. Elizabeth gets into a catfight with Miss Bingley about Wickham and Darcy. Then her own sister Jane tries to put her right about Wickham and Darcy, but Elizabeth won't listen to what Jane has to say in defense of Darcy any more than she believed Miss Bingley: "I shall venture still to think of both gentlemen as I did before." Then she's "vexed" by Mr. Collins, who has the bad manners to introduce himself to Darcy. Then she is "inexpressibly vexed" to have to listen to her mother's animated conversation about Jane's prospects with Bingley--which is also overheard by Darcy. "For heaven's sake, madam, speak lower.--What advantage can it be for you to offend Mr. Darcy?--You will never recommend yourself to his friend by so doing." But nothing she said had any influence--much like nothing Charlotte, Miss Bingley, nor her sister Jane had any influence over her. Again, when Elizabeth behaves badly, there is an unhappy parallel with her mother's behavior. As if it all wasn't enough, she's finally mortified by her sister Mary's singing, with her weak voice and affected manner. "Elizabeth was in agonies."

Family--sometimes you just can't take them anywhere--ha. "To Elizabeth it appeared, that had her family made an agreement to expose themselves as much as they could during the evening, it would have been impossible for them to play their parts with more spirit, or finer success." JA is so droll.

Apr 15, 2013, 11:28am Top

>101 labwriter: Labwriter -- I agree that Mr. Bennett is to blame for not taking more control over her daughters, but he's not the sort of man to put up much of a fight, it seems. I imagine he's what we would now call "easy going", in that he prefers to take the path of least resistance (think of his words when condoning Lydia's trip to Brighton) and dislikes direct confrontation. He's more of a guerilla fighter, preferring to stay in the background and sent his little witty missiles forth. His handling of Mr. Collins' proposal to Elizabeth, for example -- he knows perfectly well what his wife has planned, but as he doesn't see himself having much influence there, he ignores it, relying on Elizabeth's good sense (he and she have been laughing at Mr. Collins all along, after all) until the situation is brought directly to him. It is then that he states his opinion in the most sly way, placing the choice still in Elizabeth's hands and instead of uniting with his wife -- either to persuade her to his side or agreeing with her -- just says Elizabeth will have to chose which parent will be a stranger to her.

In fact, I find it interesting that he only occasionally takes a stand against his wife directly, as in his refusal to take the family to Brighton (which he probably does because, as is stated, he values his independence highly and will not go into debt, so likely does not want to expense of having 5 daughters and his wife in such a fashionable and expensive place). And when he refuses to allow Wickham and Lydia to Longbourne, it isn't his wife but his two sensible daughters who persuade him, using the lever of preserving the illusion of respectability for Lydia's marriage to shift him. And, typically, he responds to this necessity by making sarcastic remarks about being "proud" of wickham. He's back to his usual ways of dealing with the disagreeable.

Perhaps it takes all his strength to hold himself debt free and not murder Mrs. Bennett ;) so he has none left to control his younger daughters. Perhaps his influence as a parent was strongest with his elder daughters but, as the constant ordeal of living with Mrs. Bennett took its toll, he just didn't have anything left for the younger three. I think in Mary we see the last vestiges of his influence in her attempt to be learned and accomplished. I rather think Mary does as she does in an attempt to gain her father's attention and affection (since, not being pretty, she can't be well regarded by her mother). As foolish and annoying as she is, I always felt rather sorry for Mary.

Apr 15, 2013, 12:01pm Top

> 100 Welcome to the group. :) Thanks for sharing such great insights to Mr. Bennet's character.

> 102 Indeed, that was *quite* the ball for Elizabeth! Funny that she thinks her family made the agreement to expose themselves to ridicule without realizing that she too was part of the problem, as you point out.

Apr 15, 2013, 12:25pm Top

>103 Murphy-Jacobs:. Another great post! Perhaps it takes all his strength to hold himself debt free and not murder Mrs. Bennett--Ha!

I think that's good insight, that Mr. Bennet may have become exhausted as a parent--or as the husband of Mrs. Bennet--and just didn't have as much to give to his younger daughters. I agree with you, I feel badly for Mary. She could have benefitted from some direction for her studies, and instead she only received a sort of veiled ridicule from her father.

I don't know the novel as well as you do, Murphy-Jacobs, so I hope you'll bear with me as I comment along as I read. I last read this thing probably 10-15 years ago, so the details aren't particularly fresh in my mind. For example, I had completely forgotten that Elizabeth was at one time smitten with Wickham. It's funny what a person remembers and what escapes down the memory hole.

And to both of you, bunwat and Murphy-Jacobs, I'll add my welcome and hope that you'll stick with us here through to the end. --And anyone else who is lurking who would care to join our posts--please feel free!

>104 sweetiegherkin:. sweetiegherkin, that entire ball--what a brilliant scene, no?

Edited: Apr 15, 2013, 12:53pm Top

>105 labwriter: Labwriter -- no fear! There's a special joy in watching someone discover or rediscover Austen. I've gone a bit nuts on the subject because it's fun. I have a lot of enthusiasm and can discuss Austen until people's brains run out their ears (well, ok, maybe not THAT long, but...)

If you have the chance, I very much recommend The Annotated Pride and Prejudice edited by David M. Shapard (http://www.librarything.com/work/6815042/book/95692435) He's doing all the books. I'm waiting for Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park to come out. I've read a couple of annotated editions and that's the one I liked best.

If you check my collections, you'll find a tag called Austen -- by about or related where I list all the various books, "sequels" and studies I've run across about Austen and her writing. Some are a lot of fun (in particular Mr. Collins Considered, which really surprised me with analysis of the male characters in Austen. I still think Charlotte should have eaten Collins (in P&P&Z) and bemoan the missed opportunity, but Ivor Morris makes a credible defense of him.

Exhausted as a parent and a husband, I think -- yes, Mr. Bennett does seem to be a man exhausted.

Now I'm waiting for Bun to get through her working day to weigh in here :)

And hello Sweetiegherkin! thanks for the welcome!

Apr 15, 2013, 1:05pm Top

I'm loving all the quality discussion here! Everyone has had great insights. This all just shows to wonderful complexity of Austen, and proves yet again that the naysayers who think she's "just" a romance writer, or "just" a writer about rich people are really missing out.

I have a lot of enthusiasm and can discuss Austen until people's brains run out their ears (well, ok, maybe not THAT long, but...) Ha ha ha, yes! Me too. I also feel that way about Wuthering Heights, but that's a discussion for a different group . . .

I'm waiting for Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park to come out. I've read a couple of annotated editions and that's the one I liked best.

I'm glad to hear that he is doing all six. I own the published four, but I'm particularly looking forward to Mansfield Park, since I studied it at university and really fell in love with it.

Apr 15, 2013, 1:08pm Top

I've always liked practical Charlotte Lucas

So have I, so I was rather surprised when John Sutherland painted her in a bit of a dark light in the title essay of his book Who Betrays Elizabeth Bennet?. I recommend all of Sutherland's essays on Austen--agree or disagree, they are definitely thought provoking.

Apr 15, 2013, 1:12pm Top

>103 Murphy-Jacobs: As foolish and annoying as she is, I always felt rather sorry for Mary.

Agreed! She is rather neglected by all.

Apr 15, 2013, 1:20pm Top

I think Mr. Bennett is less exhausted than totally, consumately lazy. It was too much work to try to curb his wife's silliness early in their marriage, too much work to think about plannng and economizing as the daughter count ratcheted up. It was too much work to then see that his younger daughters were properly brought up. It's too much work to say "no" to Lydia...really, I'm amazed he gathered up the energy to call on Mr. Bingley at the beginning of the book, except that he may have seen it as too tempting of a tease to let Mrs. Bennett fuss on and on about it, then be able to casually say, "Oh, I called on him yesterday."

Apr 15, 2013, 1:22pm Top

>Nickilini, you will have to educate me about Mansfield Park. I have never liked it and cannot -- CANNOT -- forgive Fanny Price for being so insipid (and C.S. Lewis agrees with me!) But that's for another thread :)

I wish Shapard would do an annotation of Wuthering Heights. I'd snap that up in a heartbeat!

Apr 15, 2013, 1:27pm Top

>110 Marissa_Doyle: Well, he is described as indolent, and disinclined to act, but I do think Mrs. Bennett is quite enough to exhaust one. Even her brother, I think we can say, doesn't find her exactly easy to handle or direct. He does withstand all the begging and crying to take the girls to Brighton -- if he were really lazy, he would have packed them all up and waved goodbye to them, just to have the house to himself for a few weeks (the girls going with their mother would not be unusual. Men often had to stay home or in town upon "business"). And Mr. Bennett does put himself to the trouble of traveling to London to search out Lydia. If he were really lazy, he could have just as easily thrown his hands up and said there was no hope of finding her and let it all go. He doesn't even immediately return home when Mr. Gardiner returns to London and takes over the search. Yes, he allows himself to be persuaded to return home after a time, but I think a really lazy person would have gone back to his comfortable hole and his mockery of the world much more quickly.

Apr 15, 2013, 2:02pm Top

>111 Murphy-Jacobs: I felt that way about Mansfield Park as well, until I read The Real Jane Austen and came out with a much deeper appreciation of the book and of Fanny. However, Edmund remains pretty sub-par in my book. :)

And I don't know--I still think Mr. Bennett's besetting sin was laziness. Just saying "yes" to Lydia was easier (and cheaper!) than sending the whole family off to Bath (and besides, let us not forget narrative imperative!)...and he had to go to London in search of her; public opinion, even in Meryton, would not have allowed him to do otherwise--and by then he'd realized that Lizzy had been right and had to do something to rectify the situation.

Edited: Apr 15, 2013, 10:57pm Top

Another factor that I think is relevant to discussions of Mr Bennett's character is that England of the eighteenth century was a culture that valued consistency, order and people accepting with good grace the circumstances "to which it has pleased God to call them." Mr Bennett may not be particularly forceful or energetic by nature, but he's also discouraged from being so by the social rules of his class. The whole point and purpose of the landed gentry to which he belongs is to be a force for stability and the good maintenance of an ordered and unchanging status quo.

The rules of manners and decent behavior, particularly in Mr Bennett's class, require one to meet good fortune or bad with the same quiet, pleasant acceptance. A lady, or a gentleman is defined by self control . One doesn't kick against the traces, its not done. One of the ways we can tell that Mrs Bennett is of a lower class is simply that she complains so much!

On top of thet there simply isn't very much he reasonably CAN do about his circumstances. He doesn't have the education or skills to do much of anything other than what he is doing, living quietly on inherited money and helping to run the county in which he lives without being paid for it. If he were to try to earn money of his own, there are very few professions he could enter without losing his social status, and thereby making his daughters unmarriageable. The few that are open to a person of his station are mostly in the "gift" of some patron or require a large financial investment which he doesn't have.

Mrs Bennett certainly isn't going to be much help to him in trying to figure a way out.
I think Murphy's right, I think at some point he just got tired and retreated into his study like a turtle into his shell. But when he realizes how far astray Lydia has gone, he is shocked and ashamed - not just at her, but at himself for letting her down so badly, for basically pulling the covers up over his head and abandoning his children to their own devices because he got overwhelmed.

Apr 15, 2013, 11:30pm Top

Another matter, labwriter points out that in some of her behaviors Elizabeth shows some resemblance to her mother. I think there are also places in which Darcy shows resemblance to her father especially in holding himself above his company and looking down on people who are not as intelligent as he is. Mr Bennett mocks with dry wit and irony, and Mr Darcy just stares through them with cold civility, but there's still a resemblance there.

In some ways you can see Elizabeth and Darcy as a brighter reflection of Mr and Mrs Bennett. The do over where it works out instead of going badly. Or vice versa. Mr and Mrs Bennett are the dark reflection of Elizabeth and Darcy. The version where it doesn't work.

Apr 16, 2013, 8:20am Top

>114 bunwat: Bunway -- good points. We're often more aware of how the social order of that time period restricts women, but it had equal restrictions on men. It's also interesting to note that this is a time of social flux in England, with the rise of industry and the middle class (which really didn't exist previously as we now understand it). That's where Mr. Gardiner is an interesting character in comparison to Mr. Bennett and to Mr. Darcy. He's a "gentlemanly man" but he's also "in trade" -- which are, interestingly enough, considered to be conflicting or surprising characteristics. One of the books I read -- Disciplining Love, I think -- was all about how the roles of men were changing at this time as power shifted from the nobility and landed gentry to the business man and industrialist. There were just as many strict rules for men as for women, and Mr. Bennett is caught in that trap as well. Although compared to the females in this society, men have more agency, they are still limited.

As for Elizabeth, the point of the novel is in part her realization of her own faults -- she certainly spends her time after her visit to Huntsford berating herself and regretting her choice of actions. So it doesn't surprise me that she should be willing to let Wickham encourage the dislike of Darcy she'd already developed. And even though she makes efforts to resist her mother's influence, she has some of her mother's volatility and we can't expect her to be immune to her influence. How Jane has managed is rather remarkable to me. I wonder if, in the early days of their married life, the Bennetts had the benefit of an excellent nurse to care for Jane, who might have had more influence on her character. (I'd expect there to be a nurse or nursery maid in any case, but perhaps before there were so many children, they had some kind of governess? that might have become too expensive by the time Mary came along.)

I wonder how it is Jane grew up with such a different manner and outlook from anyone else in her family.

Edited: Apr 16, 2013, 9:37am Top

I just read Vol. I / Chapts. 19 and 20. I'm a bit confused about Mr. Collins not at least discussing his marriage proposal in advance with Mr. Bennet. I understand from Clarissa that young people of both sexes during that era had been given the right of veto over a future spouse proposed by their parents. Clarissa says throughout the novel that even though she rejects the suitor chosen for her by her father, still she won't marry without her father's consent. But Elizabeth's situation here seems quite different. Not only has Mr. Bennet not chosen a suitor for (his favorite daughter) Elizabeth, but he also seems not to have known that Mr. Collins was going to ask her to marry him.

>114 bunwat:. bunwat, you write very convincingly of Mr. Bennet following the rules and manners of decent behavior--those required of him by his class--and yet he's had no input on this vital issue of his daughter's marriage. Surely Mr. Collins would have been required to speak first to Mr. Bennet? The fact that Mrs. Bennet was aware that he was going to speak to Elizabeth about marriage but Mr. Bennet had been kept in the dark, seems to be an especially egregious breach of conduct on the part of Mr. Collins. Am I missing something?

Maybe Mr. Collins' plan was to ask Elizabeth to marry him, get her consent, and then ask Mr. Bennet for his blessing of the marriage.

Another of Mr. Bennet's great lines in the novel: "'An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents.--Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.'"

I'm imagining that if it had occurred to Mr. Bennet that Mr. Collins was going to choose Elizabeth for his wife, Mr. B would have trusted his favorite daughter to turn down his proposal--which she of course does. Mr. Bennet, whatever else he was, was not a stupid man, and the letter he received from Mr. Collins had telegraphed Mr. C's idea of marrying one of the daughters. Back in Vol. I / Chapt. 13, the letter reads: "I cannot be otherwise than concerned at being the means of injuring your amiable daughters, and beg leave to apologise for it, as well as to assure you of my readiness to make them every possible amends,--but of this hereafter."

Ha--trust Mr. Collins to ask the one Bennet girl (Jane is obviously already spoken for) who would turn him down.

ETA. Obviously Elizabeth also feels her father will support her decision, determined as she was when Mr. Collins wasn't listening to her refusal to appeal to her father, "whose negative might be uttered in such a manner as to be decisive, and whose behaviour at least could not be mistaken for the affectation and coquetry of an elegant female." So as "absent" as Mr. Bennet may have seemed, Elizabeth nonetheless trusted him to support her.

Apr 16, 2013, 9:33am Top

I appreciate the recommendations:

>108 Nickelini:. Who Betrays Elizabeth Bennet?, by John Sutherland

>106 Murphy-Jacobs:. The Annotated Pride and Prejudice, ed. by David M. Shapard.

Apr 16, 2013, 9:48am Top

>117 labwriter: labwriter -- as I understand it, there was a certain amount of wiggle room in the whole marriage selection thing, a lot of it depending on class and money. When there was a lot of money or high social status involved, parents would often be involved in selecting husbands for their daughters (or wives for their sons, for that matter). But where those issues weren't of a concern, children often were allowed to make their own choices. However, considering the constraints of status and the limited number of appropriate people available in a country neighborhood, parents were likely to know all the available choices and have intimated their ideas by whom they allowed their daughters and sons to associate with. Consider how few unchaperoned activities were available for mixed groups.

As I understand it, it wasn't uncommon for a man and woman to "come to an understanding" with each other before the man formally asked permission from the father/guardian to propose. It would be awkward (and often was) for a suitor to ask such permission without having first ascertained if the woman of his choice would consider his proposition. Darcy, we might recall, addressed Elizabeth without any reference to her parents and we might assume he would behave as properly as he required others to behave. It's more that the parent has final say on the subject -- the woman could not marry without her parents' consent without eloping. I think that is probably one of the biggest reasons elopement was such a horrible act -- it was a direct flouting of parental authority, and filial obedience was a huge factor. So there was a lot of covert activity involved in all this under the veneer of proper form.

And I think that the particular parents involved, their notions of propriety, and how strict they were, also factored in. Lady Catherine, for example, has no trouble making up a match between her daughter and Darcy without the slightest worry that Anne might not agree (we note she never actually seems to inform Darcy, because she has no claim of obedience on him -- she's not his mother, he's an adult and master of his own fortune, and he's never made the slightest sign to indicate interest in such a match).

Also, with Mr. Collins, it is obvious he has Mrs. Bennett's approval, so he might assume that she was speaking for both Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, that they had discussed the matter, and were only waiting for their daughter to agree before giving their approval. In Mr. Collins whole speech about why Elizabeth should accept him, he frames her refusal as being related to getting her parents' approval -- once she knew they condoned the marriage, she would, of course, accept him.

Edited: Apr 16, 2013, 10:49am Top

>119 Murphy-Jacobs:. Yes, you're obviously right about the man and woman coming to an understanding before the man formally addresses the father/guardian. That makes perfect sense.

Elopement: Clarissa Harlowe's elopement with Lovelace was a horrific act not so much because she was going against her father's wishes (although that was bad enough), but mainly because she had left her home unchaperoned: a single woman going off with a single man, with what intentions? In such a situation, it would have been assumed that her virginity was compromised, thus taking her off the marriage market for anyone except Lovelace. Marry him, and eventually all would have been forgiven; refuse to marry him, and her reputation would have been destroyed. She literally would have been unmarriageable.

Apr 16, 2013, 11:21am Top

>117 labwriter:

Do you really think Lydia or Kitty would have been happier if Mr. Collins had asked any of them? Kitty just might have been persuaded, but Lydia marrying a priest and going to live in the quiet countryside, under the patronage of Lady Catherine de Bourgh? Elizabeth seems like a sane choice in comparison.

Apr 16, 2013, 11:21am Top

I think that Mr Collins believes that there already exists an understanding between him and all of the Bennetts that he intends to pick one of the daughters - the only question remaining is which? And in fact I think he's right, all of the Bennetts do know that he believes this. Some of them are just hoping that if he gets no encouragement whatsoever, he'll take the hint and drop it.

I would even venture to say that when he first proposed the visit, before any of them had met him, the thought may well have occurred, wouldn't it be terrific if he turned out to be charming and delightful... what a solution that would be! If he'd turned out to be less of a pompous twit there was some possibility they might have considered it.

Unfortunately he's not even slightly charming or delightful.

Apr 16, 2013, 11:55am Top

Bun, exactly! If Mr. Collins had been a less contemptible being, Jane or Elizabeth might have well have accepted him.

I always thought Mary would have accepted Mr. Collins, but, she not having any particular beauty and not being the kind who would flatter and admire him (because she wanted flattery and admiration herself) he wouldn't have considered her. The only quality he really regards in Elizabeth is her appearance -- everything else would have to change (her vivacity tempered by respect, etc.) Charlotte may not have a great deal of beauty, but she does know how to flatter and persuade a weak minded man.

Oh elopement was full of perils for a young woman. It wasn't so very good for a young man, especially if it happened to be foiled after the couple had departed -- it could ruin his reputation as well and make other parents cautious of him, which might drive him to marry beneath his status, or to select a woman otherwise not likely to marry well. But for a woman it was a complete disaster from which it wasn't likely she could recover without some kind of intervention and concealment. A woman's virtue was quite the commodity. Lydia, as we can guess, is simply not able to comprehend this. She has no idea of what her life would be if Wickham did not marry her -- either she would have to go into seclusion or she would become a "fallen" woman. Her father doesn't have the funds to "bribe" any man to marry her and even
Wickham, her seducer, has to be bribed into it because he knows he has the upper hand here. Since he's only interested in marrying for money, he could possibly (at least in his mind) still tempt some other foolish and better endowered girl. He lacks the social status to tempt some merchant's daughter interested in trading money for position, so he can't easily look there unless he pulls off a really big con. He is completely unsuitable for marriage to any woman of sense and self-respect, so it's really telling that he does marry Lydia.

Edited: Apr 16, 2013, 12:14pm Top

>121 andejons:. Well, you make a good point, although I can't agree with you that Elizabeth would have been a sane choice for Mr. Collins. With a little effort (which we've pretty well established that Mr. Bennet was not willing to make) one of them might have been persuaded that she was doing a good thing in keeping the estate in the family. How about Mary? I can see Mary being persuaded that she could be a "great help" to Mr. Collins--in somewhat the same way that Middlemarch's Dorothea Brooke convinced herself that she should marry Mr. Casaubon. Mary's "hackneyed judgments and sentiments" would have matched pretty well with Mr. Collins's ludicrous formality and high opinion of himself. But that's not where JA wanted to go with her story.

ETA. >123 Murphy-Jacobs:. Ha, I think we cross-posted.

Apr 16, 2013, 3:15pm Top

>124 labwriter:
I agree that Elizabeth wouldn't have been a very good match - better than Lydia, but not good by any means. Mary is probably the only one of the sisters who are not disgusted by him, but since he seems to be proposing more out of a general sense of what would appear as proper, he looks at the sisters in order of age instead of as human beings.

Apr 16, 2013, 3:53pm Top

I think Mary has a tiny crush on Mr Collins actually. I think its revealed when she takes her sisters to task for laughing at him. Perhaps she is secretly hoping that he might eventually notice that there is one sister that doesn't dislike him. I agree they have more in common than any other pairing of Bennett-Collins. I still think it would be a terrible match though.

Mary and Collins would just support and reinforce one another's worst qualities. My goodness after ten or fifteen years married to one another they'd be the rudest and silliest people in any gathering they attended. People would flee their company and hide when they knocked on the door. And can you imagine Collins' poor parishioners having that pair as their vicar and wife? Yikes!

At least with Charlotte one member of the partnership has a little bit of good sense and can maybe be a good influence on the other. Or at least prevent him from being quite as destructive to the people he's supposed to be ministering to as he might be otherwise.

Apr 16, 2013, 4:53pm Top

>126 bunwat:. after ten or fifteen years married to one another they'd be the rudest and silliest people in any gathering they attended

bun, your post is hilarious. The picture I have in my mind of these two is just too funny.

Apr 16, 2013, 5:59pm Top

When Mr. Bennett gets that letter from Mr. Collins requesting his congratulations for the "new olive branch" I cringe. I also wonder if he asked Lady Catherine's advice before embarking on olive branch making. I'm sure she has an opinion on it.

Apr 16, 2013, 6:35pm Top

Lady Catherine de Bourgh dispensing marital advice--now that's a piece of P&P fan fiction I'd like to see. ;)

Edited: Apr 16, 2013, 11:50pm Top

>127 labwriter: - Thanks labwriter! That's one of my favorite things about Austen, her characters are so funny!

Murph, I may need to borrow some brain bleach. The notion of Mr Collins embarking on olive branch making somehow connects in my head with nightshirts and knobby ankles in a very unfortunate way. I'm singing loudly trying to change the mental subject.

>129 Marissa_Doyle: Gah, can you imagine being one of Lady Catherine's tenants with Collins as your vicar and Mary visiting you if you got sick? Lawksamercy I'd emigrate.

Apr 17, 2013, 10:58am Top

>Bun -- brain bleach and mental floss! that stuff can be sticky! Close your eyes and think of England! :)

Of course, there is at least one or two books that take, shall we say, great liberties with the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth. I read one of them some years ago and will say that the only way to read it is very quickly, with popcorn and no critical faculties. It wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't Austen. It was a modern romance novel using Austen names and situations. Appropriate beach reading, goes well with wine.

Now, Mary. At the end of the novel we learn that Mary, when she is no longer being compared to her sisters, leaves off such assiduous pursuit of "accomplishments" and goes into society with her mother. Would she be likely to be less seeking for admiration and praise? Might she get more of the attention from her parents when she's the only one around? Or would her mother continue missing her married and visiting daughters (since Kitty, we are told, spends most of her time with her elder sisters) and obliquely abusing Mary? Will Mary be the spinster sister, destined to care for her parents into their old age? Can we see any other future for her?

Oh, and Mr. Bennett never allows Kitty (or Mary, we might assume) to visit Lydia, although you can be sure Mrs. Bennett lobbies hard to send her. So maybe he's picked up a bit of backbone.

Edited: Apr 18, 2013, 12:11pm Top

Volume I ends with the Bennets receiving the news of Charlotte Lucas's engagement to Mr. Collins. Sir Lucas appears at the Bennets' to announce the engagement, and the people of the house react characteristically to the news.

Lydia unguardedly and uncivilly exclaims that Mr. Lucas is a liar.

Elizabeth, trying to put a stop to her mother's exclamations, earnestly congratulates Sir William, although to Jane she attempts to persuade her that happiness in the marriage is "improbable."

Mrs. Bennet is sure that Mr. Collins had been taken in. "Nothing could console and nothing could appease her. Nor did that day wear out her resentment. A week passed before she could see Elizabeth without scolding her, a month passed before she could speak to Sir William or Lady Lucas without being rude, and many months were gone before she could at all forgive their daughter."

Mr. Bennet is evidently gratified when he hears of other people making bad marriages like his own--and also is happy to know that his daughter has behaved less foolishly that Charlotte Lucas.

Jane was "a little" surprised but earnestly desired their happiness.

Kitty and Lydia react to the news only as a piece of gossip to spread in town.

Lady Lucas holds her daughter's triumph over Mrs. Bennet, having no doubt become sick to death of listening to Mrs. Bennet crow about having a daughter well married (at least in her own mind).

Mrs. Bennet was thrown into an "agony of ill humour" whenever she heard the married talked of or saw Miss Lucas, the sight of whom was "odious to her. As her successor in that house, she regarded her with jealous abhorrence."

It makes you wonder what the relationship was like between Mrs. Bennet and her mother-in-law when Mrs. B was a young wife.

Apr 18, 2013, 12:31pm Top

If there is anyone here who wants even more Pride & Prejudice, I recommend the blog Bitch in a Bonnet. He went through P&P thoroughly starting back in 2009. Often very observant and quite funny! http://bitchinabonnet.blogspot.ca/search?updated-min=2009-01-01T00:00:00-06:00&a...

Apr 18, 2013, 11:06pm Top

>133 Nickelini:. Joyce, the blog is great. Thank you so much!

Edited: Apr 22, 2013, 9:20am Top

Volume II, Chapter 1

In which Jane receives a letter from Miss Bingley, ending all doubt--Mr. Bingley will be staying in London. Caroline Bingley crows about her brother spending time at Darcy's house (where he would also be spending time with Miss Darcy). Jane is noble-spirited about the whole thing, only glad that she has "nothing to reproach him with" (like a failed promise of marriage). "A little time" will make everything as it was. Elizabeth, on the other hand, is furious on her sister's behalf. Although she has no doubt of his regard for her sister, she is contemptuous that his easy temper has made him the "slave of his designing friends."

Spacks makes the point that Austen is doing something original here in making Elizabeth, the spirited and witty one, the one who does not always take the most generous view, primary to the plot rather than secondary. Austen is going against the grain by making Jane, the angelically good sister, secondary. Spacks: "Elizabeth seeks steadily to develop moral discrimination. She makes many mistakes along the way, influenced too often by immediate reactions and by others' views. But she looks at the evidence she is offered; she corrects herself when she can; she insists on the value of principle. She exemplifies moral process rather than moral triumph."

Murphy-Jacobs makes that point about Elizabeth in her post in #116: As for Elizabeth, the point of the novel is in part her realization of her own faults --

My favorite character in Richardson's Clarissa is Anna Howe, Clarissa's "spirited and witty" best friend, who (mostly) reforms her ways by the end of the novel and marries the man people expect her to marry. Richardson's Charlotte in Sir Charles Grandison also reforms after her marriage. Austen gives her readers something new in Elizabeth, which of course is one of the measures of her genius.

Mr. Bennet never disappoints, does he? In a conversation with Lizzy, he "congratulates" Jane on being crossed in love. "When is your turn to come? You will hardly bear to be outdone by Jane. Now is your time. Here are officers enough in Meryton to disappoint all the young ladies in the country. Let Wickham be your man. He is a pleasant fellow, and would jilt your creditably."

If there's anyone in the world whom Mr. Bennet loves, it's his daughter Lizzy. Maybe somewhere in his misanthropic heart he's actually terrified for her, terrified that she might hook up with someone like Wickham, and this is his way of telling her: "Be careful, because I love you too much to see you hurt by such an unworthy man." Or maybe this is just the Jane in me, trying to find something good in Mr. Bennet.

Edited: Apr 22, 2013, 11:16pm Top

Volume II, Chapter 2

It strikes me how absolutely we trust Jane Austen when she can introduce a new character, describe her in one sentence, and allow us, through that character's eyes, to see things as they really are.

Mrs. Gardiner, Mrs. Bennet's sister-in-law: "several years younger than Mrs. Bennet and Mrs. Philips, was an amiable, intelligent, elegant woman, and a great favourite with all her Longbourn nieces." We can trust from that small description of her that Mrs. Gardiner is a moral authority standing in for Jane Austen herself. So when Mrs. G. "narrowly" observes the interaction between Elizabeth and Wickham, we know that things will soon be set right. If Clarissa had had an Aunt Gardiner, she would never have gotten herself into trouble with Lovelace.

"Without supposing them, from what she saw, to be very seriously in love, their preference for each other was plain enough to make her a little uneasy; and she resolved to speak to Elizabeth on the subject before she left Hertfordshire, and represent to her the imprudence of encouraging such an attachment." Hooray for Mrs. Gardiner!

Apr 22, 2013, 2:31pm Top

Yes, Austen sets up the authorial voice as a dependable, reliable voice that we can, do, and indeed must, accept for presenting the world and the people in it accurately. Her character creations, the speed and clarity with which she can plop a new person into the world and make us know him or her is incredible.

I have to catch up with reading Clarissa. I've only read Evelina as yet, and Mysteries of Udolpho (with which I had HUGE fun).

Apr 22, 2013, 10:54pm Top

> 135 If there's anyone in the world whom Mr. Bennet loves, it's his daughter Lizzy. Maybe somewhere in his misanthropic heart he's actually terrified for her, terrified that she might hook up with someone like Wickham, and this is his way of telling her: "Be careful, because I love you too much to see you hurt by such an unworthy man." Or maybe this is just the Jane in me, trying to find something good in Mr. Bennet.

If nothing else, this confirms what Mrs. Gardiner sees also on her arrival -- Elizabeth and Wickham's mutual preference is only too plain!

Apr 23, 2013, 12:13am Top

Wow, you guys. What a great discussion. It's really making me want to pick up P&P again. I think I will - right after I finish my current book. I'm really enjoying how you guys are exploring the many layers - and, while I don't have much to add at this point, I will jump in once I restart the book.

Edited: Apr 23, 2013, 7:59am Top

>137 Murphy-Jacobs:. I haven't read Evelina (Frances Burney, 1778), but I mean to get around to it one of these days. The professor who assigned us The Mysteries of Udolpho (Ann Radcliffe, 1794) was one of those who thought she invented feminism, if you know the type. Her reading of the book was tedious, to say the least. Also, I'm not that much into Gothic. I highly recommend Clarissa to anyone who will listen to me--a pretty small subset, I'm afraid--ha. My friends quickly change the subject if it even looks like I might be going there.

jennybhatt, we'd love to have you join us again!

Apr 23, 2013, 8:36am Top

> 140 I enjoyed Evelina and would recommend. I'd like to read more of Frances Burney's books after reading that one. Clarissa wasn't necessarily on my TBR list, but you make it sound very interesting. Maybe one of these days I'll get around to reading all those books on my wishlist!

Apr 23, 2013, 9:16am Top

Labwriter -- when you have time, you should read my review of The Mysteries of Udolpho. I read it twice within about a year, and I had a very good time with it. Luckily for me, no one assigned it. I'm not so much into Gothic as I am making a private survey of various female authors, all inspired by my readings of and about Jane Austen. I was curious about the women authors who were her influences and contemporaries. Plus, I just had to read the book Austen felt it necessary to mock in Northanger Abbey. That's quite a recommendation to me!

I'm also a fan of Georgette Heyer, whose deeply researched Georgian and Regency romances are actually a bit more like Austen than like more modern writers setting stories in that era. Heyer did tons of research on dress, language, and historical events for that period. Because of her, I plan to eventually read Waverly and Pamela. I haven't had as much luck yet reading Byron's poetry, though. Don Juan sits on my shelf daring me. Still, one day I will conquer it.

It's always worth rereading P&P! I have a good audio version narrated by Josephine Bailey that I listen to every few months, and I occasionally pull out a printed version. It is rather interesting to note that reading it for myself brings out different points than does listening to it, and both methods work well. (And, of course, I have that Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth mini series, which I've watched far too many times).

Apr 23, 2013, 10:16am Top

>142 Murphy-Jacobs:. M-J, hilarious review. Really, she should have loosened her corset.

Also, what would you recommend of Heyer's?

My books from my lit days in school are mostly in boxes because I'm painting my upstairs rooms. I haven't read Don Juan either. I think we did Childe Harold.

>141 sweetiegherkin:. Evelina goes on the list!

Edited: Apr 24, 2013, 9:19am Top

Volume II / Chapter 3

In which Jane goes to London with aunt and uncle Gardiner.

Jane has properly renewed her acquaintance with a call when she first came to town; the etiquette of the time required a prompt return call (or card) by Miss Bingley. After her visit, Jane tells Elizabeth in a letter, "I dare say I shall soon see them here." Caroline Bingley violates the norms of etiquette by waiting a fortnight to return the call, which would have at last made plain even to Jane that Miss Bingley wishes to break off their acquaintance.

Even Jane, slow as she is to judge, "could no longer be blind to Miss Bingley's inattention." She writes to Lizzy, confessing to be "entirely deceived in Miss Bingley's regard for me." That's pretty strong for our Jane. "Caroline did not return my visit till yesterday; and not a note, not a line, did I receive in the mean time." Jane is unable to say why it was that Caroline ever wanted to know her, and she blames her "for singling me out in the first place." Although, because she is Jane, she also pities her, since Caroline "must know" she has done wrong.

Four weeks later, Jane has still not seen Mr. Bingley. Naturally his sister isn't going to be the one to tell him Jane's in London. As far as Mr. Bingley's not contacting her: "If I were not afraid of judging harshly, I should almost be tempted to say, that there I a strong appearance of duplicity in this." If Bingley were aware of Jane's presence in London, etiquette would dictate that he would make some effort to contact her. If he doesn't contact her, then her only access to him is through his sister, who is acting as an effective gatekeeper.

Apr 23, 2013, 1:44pm Top

An interesting article in today's New York Times on game theory in Jane Austen's work: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/23/books/michael-chwe-author-sees-jane-austen-as-...

Apr 23, 2013, 2:16pm Top

#145. Interesting! Thanks.

Apr 23, 2013, 2:54pm Top

It's hard to say with Heyer, but I have some favorites -- The Toll-Gate, The Black Moth or The Unknown Ajax are good if you want a bit of mystery and adventure tossed into your romance. The Grand Sophy, Venetia or Frederica work well for introductions to strong female leads. For humor, Sprig Muslin or Bath Tangle. But, really, The Talisman Ring has my favorite combination of all of the above. It's an early Heyer, so it's not quite as polished as her later work, but it's fresh, funny, and has one of my favorite heroines.

>145 Marissa_Doyle: -- ok, yet another book I have to obtain! I wonder if I can get the library to order it? Maybe I should just get my own copy so I can mark in it :)

Edited: Apr 24, 2013, 9:16am Top

>145 Marissa_Doyle:. Thanks for the link to the game theory book--it looks fascinating.

>147 Murphy-Jacobs:. And for the Heyer recommendations. I'll try her one of these days.

Edited: Apr 24, 2013, 10:30am Top

Oh to have an Aunt Gardiner!

Vol. II / Chapt. 4

In which Lizzy travels to Hunsford to visit Charlotte. She was traveling with Sir William Lucas and a younger daughter, Maria--"a good humored girl, but as empty-headed as himself." They were "listened to with about as much delight as the rattle of the chaise."

It was a journey of 24 miles. To break up the journey, they pass a pleasant day with Jane in London and the Gardiners, where she hears from her aunt that Jane is having periods of dejection.

A private conversation with aunt Gardiner: Elizabeth says she is sick of all men, and thank Heaven she is going to visit a man who has "not one agreeable quality, who has neither manner nor sense to recommend him. Stupid men are the only ones worth knowing, after all."

Mrs. Gardiner: "Take care, Lizzy; that speech savours strongly of disappointment." Shapard, in The Annotated Pride and Prejudice, says that this period of the novel marks Elizabeth's low point, since she has been disappointed by Charlotte, by Bingley, and by Wickham. Her aunt warns her away from expressing this sort of petty resentment and frustration. Elizabeth is in danger of falling into her father's cynical point of view--a danger for her, since she is like him in certain respects.

The Gardiners invite Lizzy to take a tour with them in the summer. Her acceptance is "ready and grateful."

I thought this was an interesting line, in view of our discussions here of Mr. Bennet:
"The only pain was in leaving her father, who would certainly miss her, and who, when it came to the point, so little liked her going, that he told her to write to him, and almost promised to answer her letter." --Evidently Mr. B isn't much on letter-writing.

Edited: Apr 24, 2013, 12:48pm Top

>149 labwriter: -- yes, the observation about Mrs. Gardner's comment to Lizzy is a good one.

As for Mr. Bennett and letter writing -- well, it takes effort and demonstrates some level of caring, so of course he's reluctant to do it :) Really, I think Austen is making a joke more than saying Mr. Bennett doesn't love Lizzy enough to writer to her. We find out later, when Lizzy announces to Lady Catherine that she must return home on schedule, that Mr. Bennett wrote to "hurry her return", so apparently he did write to her at least once, and I suspect more than that. Lizzy doesn't remark on the letter in such a way as to make us think she was surprised at getting a letter from her father.

Apr 25, 2013, 11:48am Top

Volume I / Chapter 5

In which Elizabeth visits her friend Charlotte.

I enjoy taking things apart and looking closely at how writers do what they do. There is an interesting note from Spacks about point of view in the novel: "while Sir William accompanied {Mr. Collins}, Charlotte took her sister and friend over the house, extremely well pleased, probably, {emphasis mine} to have the opportunity of shewing it without her husband's help."

Spacks: "This "probably" issues from Elizabeth's perspective. Austen characteristically uses an omniscient narrator, who would know for sure whether Charlotte was pleased. But she also relies heavily on free indirect discourse, in which the tone and inflection of a specific character replace that of a dispassionate narrator. Thus Elizabeth's consciousness controls most of this paragraph."

Apr 25, 2013, 2:28pm Top

I, too, appreciated Spacks' finding these small details in the writing--attempting to find where the characters end and Austen begins (or vice versa!).

Apr 26, 2013, 1:29pm Top

Has anyone read Bitch In a Bonnet: Reclaiming Jane Austen From the Stiffs, the Snobs, the Simps and the Saps, Volume 1? I am seriously looking into it because I think it speaks to my own view of Austen (although, perhaps, a touch more vulgarly than I might).

Edited: Apr 26, 2013, 3:30pm Top

I have not, and I have to say that title is putting me off in a very major way. Maybe the book itself is interesting but the title makes me want to reject it before I've even glanced at the first page. Not a big fan of that kind of hyperbolic overstatement. Since when does Austen need rescuing? She's survived several hundred years so far, and will probably survive a few more without needing to be reclaimed from the part of her audience this author apparently disapproves of. Heck if he doesn't want to read Austen the way the "simps" want to, that's fine, great, but why put others down?

Apr 26, 2013, 3:31pm Top

Of course its always possible that's some publisher's idea of a catchy title. In which case the author has my sympathies.

Apr 26, 2013, 4:01pm Top

It's actually the book version of the blog mentioned in #133, http://bitchinabonnet.blogspot.nl/. It's quite funny at times.

Apr 26, 2013, 4:38pm Top

I've had a lot of fun over at the Bitch in a Bonnet blog. He's as astute as any other Austen commenter I've read.

Apr 26, 2013, 4:41pm Top

My initial reaction was rejection because of the title, Bun, but when I read the description of the book, I decided, yeah, just catchy hyperbole to get attention. Sounds like there's actual meaty meat inside.

Apr 26, 2013, 4:42pm Top

Heck if he doesn't want to read Austen the way the "simps" want to, that's fine, great, but why put others down?

Because he's wicked. ;-)

(I got the impression that his beef is with all the cheap and silly Jane Austen rip offs/cash grabs)

Edited: Apr 26, 2013, 4:47pm Top

OH, I Hope he goes after S&S& Seamonsters. I so loathed that book. The sole joy I got from reading it was in the hating. P&P& Zombies was almost as bad, although I did get three laughs from it, it was more fun to rag on it.

I have Emma and Vampires sitting on the pile, but I haven't been drunk brave enough to read it yet. I'm a glutton for punishment. I did, however, enjoy Jayne Slayer.

Apr 26, 2013, 5:07pm Top

Sounds like there's actual meaty meat inside.

Hey, don't do that while I'm drinking coffee over my keyboard. Yes, I like that meaty meat. It's so much better than that fruity meat. (Why does this remind me of the Jon Stewart episode the other day when he was poking fun at the CNN reporter who kept saying "canine dogs."?)

Apr 26, 2013, 5:16pm Top

::grin:: Well, as opposed to that Vegi burger stuff!

Apr 26, 2013, 5:24pm Top

of course!

Edited: Apr 28, 2013, 11:55am Top

>153 Murphy-Jacobs:. Has anyone read Bitch In a Bonnet: Reclaiming Jane Austen From the Stiffs, the Snobs, the Simps and the Saps, Volume 1? I am seriously looking into it because I think it speaks to my own view of Austen (although, perhaps, a touch more vulgarly than I might).

Bitch in a Bonnet, by Robert Rodi. I have Rodi's book on my Kindle and I'm reading it as I read through P&P. He's definitely irreverent, and at times his humor palls because it's mostly pretty adolescent, but if you can get beyond both (which may be aimed at a younger audience?), then he has some good insights. For example:
The Gardiners are a kind of stroke of genius for the narrative; emotions have been running so high, and incident piling up even higher, that it comes as a relief suddenly to have these two still, beatific presences layered in like a balm. They give the narrative a much-needed pause, without which it might have escalated into a kind of opera buffa or even Grand Guignol. They also, by their solidity and shrewdness, remind us of how frantic and foolish everyone has been acting.
I think Rodi is definitely an Austen fan, but he needed a "different" slant about her for his book--I mean, how do you write another book about Jane Austen? Actually he doesn't have a whole lot to say. First-time high school readers of Austen?--That seems to be his audience, although maybe I'm not being fair. A little of his shtick goes a long way.

Before we get to Vol. II / Chapter 6, the big meet up at Rosings, Rodi writes: "{Austen} at long last brings to the fore Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and we get to judge for ourselves what kind of dame she is. I'm not one for spoilers, but here's a hint: think the Antichrist in a silk pelisse."

One thing Rodi does that I don't particularly care for is to number the chapters sequentially: so instead of Volume II / Chapter 6, he refers to "Chapter 29."

Edited: Apr 28, 2013, 11:56am Top

Volume II / Chapter 6

In which we are privy to the big meet up at Rosings.

During the dinner, poor Elizabeth was "ready to speak whenever there was an opening"--but since she was seated between Charlotte (whose was full-time occupied with listening to Lady Catherine) and Miss De Bourgh, "who said not a word to her all dinner time." Rodi: "Or maybe Lizzy's just not paying attention, and Miss De Bourgh is trying to communicate with her in some other way, such as spelling out HELP ME with her peas." {Another typical example of Rodi's commentary/humor--I'll stop now).

There's an article I'd be interested in reading, mentioned by Spacks: "Pride and Prejudice: The Tale Told by Lady Catherine's House," by Joan Klingel Ray, Explicator 67: 1 (Fall 2008), 66-70. I don't have ready access to the Explicator.

Elizabeth and Maria help make up a table of four, playing cassino with Mrs. Jenkins and Miss De Bourgh. JA: "Their table was superlatively stupid." I love Austen for a lot of things, but particularly for lines like that one.

Apr 28, 2013, 11:56am Top

Well, it does seem apparent that Rodi is aiming at people who discount or don't really read Austen, or at best saw the Kiera Knightley version of P&P (for which I had such hopes, what with David Sutherland and Judi Densch, but was really such a waste except for one scene created not from the book where Bingley is practicing his proposal with Darcy -- it is, in fact, the only thing I remember about the movie).

His numbering might also refer to whatever version of the book he has, as some do use a straight chapter numbering system while others use the volume numbers. I have copies with either one.

As I have (attempted) to read at least one Fanfic/Sequel that tried very hard to resuscitate Anne De Bourgh, the peas comment makes me smile.

Apr 28, 2013, 5:36pm Top

> 164 Re: The Gardiners. Yes, a good comment about the Gardiners. In Persuasion, I think Admiral & Mrs. Croft play the same role--they rescue Anne from a world of (to quote above) "superlatively stupid" people.

Apr 29, 2013, 8:34am Top

>167 kac522:. Oh, good point about the Crofts.

Volume II / Chapter 7

The visit continues. Sir William stays for "only" a week, and the others stay on after him.

Lady Catherine, since she was a woman, couldn't officially serve as a magistrate, but she acted the part: "whenever any of the cottagers were disposed to be quarrelsome, discontented, or too poor, she sallied forth into the village to settle their differences, silence their complaints, and scold them into harmony and plenty."

They dined at Rosings twice a week. Elizabeth enjoys walking by herself on a path not often used.

Mr. Darcy was an expected visitor at Rosings. Elizabeth looks forward to being "amused in seeing how hopeless Miss Bingley's designs on him were, by his behaviour to his cousin, for whom he was evidently destined by Lady Catherine."

Mr. Darcy arrives, bringing with him a cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam. They visit at the Collins's: "Colonel Fitzwilliam. . . was about thirty, not handsome, but in person and address most truly the gentleman." As usual, Darcy has little to say. Elizabeth mentions her sister being in London; Darcy looks "confused"--obviously he hasn't heard she's there.

From Shapard: Colonel Fitzwilliam's need to pursue a career in the military is typical for a younger son of an earl, since that means he is not the heir.

Apr 29, 2013, 9:40am Top

#168 Darcy confesses in his letter to Elizabeth that he did know that Jane was in London but had concealed the fact from Bingley.

Apr 30, 2013, 8:31am Top

Volume II / Chapter 8

The women at Mr. Collins' place saw little of Col. Fitzwilliam and Darcy for the next week. At last they were invited to Rosings one evening. Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam find themselves hitting it off.

A hilarious conversation between Darcy and Lady Catherine about music. Lady C: "If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient. And so would Ann, if her health had allowed her to apply. I am confident she would have performed delightfully."

Spacks re Lady Catherine: "Austen depicts her as an altogether dreadful person, arrogant, rude, and unaware of others' needs or feelings. One may fancy that Mrs. Bennet would be rather like her, if very rich."

"Mr. Darcy looked a little ashamed of his aunt's ill breeding, and made no answer."

Elizabeth plays the piano and converses with Darcy. Darcy: "I have had the pleasure of your acquaintance long enough to know that you find great enjoyment in occasionally professing opinions which in fact are not your own."

Elizabeth laughs at that--and then says to Fitzwilliam: "I am particularly unlucky in meeting with a person so well able to expose my real character, in a part of the world, where I had hoped to pass myself off with some degree of credit."

Spacks says in this conversation between them, Elizabeth's tone is joking, but she is being remarkably bold.

Apr 30, 2013, 8:32am Top

Volume II / Chapter 9

Mrs. Collins and Maria have gone to the village, and Elizabeth finds herself alone, writing a letter to Jane--when who should show up but Darcy. Rodi points out that this is the first time they speak together without an audience--"a wonderful, and subtle, refutation of Darcy's earlier statement, 'We neither of us perform to strangers'--the buffer of the audience has been removed, and they're "marooned" with each other.

Elizabeth takes a turn at a conversational topic--Mr. Bingley.

Darcy's turn--"Mr. Collins appears to be very fortunate in his choice of a wife."

Charlotte returns, Darcy leaves, and Charlotte expresses her amazement: "My dear Eliza he must be in love with you, or he would never have called us in this familiar way." The two then decide that perhaps he's just having difficulty finding anything to do.

In the ensuing days, when they continue to see Fitzwilliam and Darcy "so often" at the Parsonage, Charlotte "set herself seriously to work to find out" what Darcy was up to, believing he was in love with her friend.

May 3, 2013, 8:11am Top

I need to move the reading of this along, so I'm going to stop posting chapter by chapter. But I'll be back when I run into something particularly post worthy. I'm loving this reread.

May 19, 2013, 10:23am Top

While we're on the topic of P&P, this question has been plaguing me since it came up in one of the trivia quizzes in Pocket Posh Jane Austen: 100 Puzzles & Quizzes, which I received as a present a few months back.

Q: “How many sisters does Mr. Bingley have?”; A: Five.

The answer seems to come from this passage of Pride and Prejudice:

"Mr. Bingley was obliged to be in town the following day, and consequently unable to accept the honour of their invitation, &c. Mrs. Bennet was quite disconcerted. She could not imagine what business he could have in town so soon after his arrival in Hertfordshire; and she began to fear that he might be always flying about from one place to another, and never settled at Netherfield as he ought to be. Lady Lucas quieted her fears a little by starting the idea of his being gone to London only to get a large party for the ball; and a report soon followed that Mr. Bingley was to bring twelve ladies and seven gentlemen with him to the assembly. The girls grieved over such a large number of ladies; but were comforted the day before the ball by hearing that, instead of twelve, he had brought only six with him from London, his five sisters and a cousin. And when the party entered the assembly room, it consisted of only five altogether; Mr. Bingley, his two sisters, the husband of the oldest, and another young man."

I had always assumed that the five sisters and a cousin were part of the misinformation circulated by rumors in the style of the old childhood game of “telephone” (some element of which appeared to exist long before telephones were invented!), and that Mr. Bingley in fact only had the two sisters, Mrs. Hurst and Miss Caroline Bingley. The author of the Pocket Posh© puzzles apparently had a different interpretation of this passage and took the five sisters as literal, even if we never saw the other three materialize throughout the novel. What do you all think? How many sisters to Mr. Bingley really have?

May 22, 2013, 10:54am Top

Two. I agree it was misinformation. Humorously so, as the number of his guests keeps getting revised.

May 22, 2013, 11:02am Top

Oh also can I say how humorous it is that the game of telephone continues even today, two centuries later, with some reading the passage literally and others seeing it as a joke.

May 23, 2013, 2:07pm Top

> 175 good point!

May 28, 2013, 12:26am Top

Has anyone come across this web series: The Lizzie Bennett Diaries? Someone pointed me to it and, at first, I thought - oh, just some school kids making amateur videos. But, it really grows on you. These kids have a really deep understanding of Pride and Prejudice and are able to put a decent modern twist on it. Quite fun to watch, really. Thought I'd pass on to folks here.....

May 28, 2013, 10:23am Top

> 177 I know a couple of people who love it, but I couldn't get into it. As far as I understand though, it's not amateur - there are professional actors involved. I think they are talking about doing another Austen after this, but I can't recall now where I heard that or what book it might be so maybe it's not true.

May 28, 2013, 7:24pm Top

Yes, it's a professional effort funded through crowdsourcing. I tried to watch it too, but the film editing style--the "jumpy" quality--began to grate on me after three episodes, so I stopped. I have a couple of friends who are obsessed with it, though.

Jun 7, 2013, 8:46am Top

I assume someone here has read the PD James, Death Comes to Pemberley. As an Austen spin-off, how does it rate?

Jun 7, 2013, 11:23am Top

I know I read it, but I can't remember anything about it. Maybe that says enough.

Jun 7, 2013, 7:09pm Top

I read Death Comes to Pemberley. The characters and manners were certainly true to Austen. The story was believable, more than other Austen sequels I've read (which sometimes get downright silly). But it lacked any humor or wit, which was the most disappointing to me. I also felt that James had characters reveal the solution to the mystery through long monologues, rather than through action. It got boring at the end because of that.

Jun 8, 2013, 12:07am Top

Thanks--I appreciate your thoughts on the book.

Nov 28, 2013, 1:33pm Top

I wasn't rereading P&P when we had this conversation in spring, but I am now, and I'm using the Annotated Pride and Prejudice version (Shepard). I'm really loving the commentary that he gives, but I want more. I'm thinking of ordering the Spacks version, and from the comments here it does sound like it's different enough that it could be worth my $$. There isn't much of a description at Amazon (the Look Inside! feature is useless in this case), but one of the reviews says this is an oversized coffeetable book with colour illustrations. If that is the case, it is indeed different from the Shepard Annotation. Can anyone confirm this or briefly describe the book for me? Many thanks.

After having read John Sutherland's title essays from Who Betrays Elizabeth Bennet?, I've noticed all sorts of things about Charlotte Lucas in this rereading. There is definitely much more to her than I had noticed before. But isn't that the way with Austen books!

Nov 28, 2013, 3:47pm Top

>184 Nickelini: Yes, the Spacks book is a lovely over-sized book. I also have an annotated Persuasion in the same format, although that book is annotated by Robert Morrison.

Nov 28, 2013, 8:15pm Top

Back at post #15, CD Vicarage said: "A fairly recently published book, that I read last month is, What Matters in Jane Austen. Twenty chapters each on a different topic. Very readable."

I made note of that, and today I stumbled upon it at my library website, available to download onto my computer. Thanks for the recommendation! It's very readable, indeed, but not simplistic in the least. The introduction has some fabulous material when you're confronted with those other readers who think P& P is "just" a romance, or that Jane Austen is over-rated.

Nov 28, 2013, 8:16pm Top

yes, the Spacks book is a lovely over-sized book. I also have an annotated Persuasion in the same format, although that book is annotated by Robert Morrison.

Oh dear, this is going to cost me $$. I'm afraid I'm going to have to order the whole lot.

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