Over the next month we will be delving into Jane Austen’s most popular work, Pride and Prejudice by celebrating our origins, the novel, without any paranormal or mythical creatures mashed into it. Included with the event will be a group read, guest blogs on history, culture, plot, characterization, movie and book reviews and its burgeoning legacy, the sequels. Be sure to check out the complete event schedule and mark your calendars.
Considered a masterpiece of world literature by scholars and critics, Pride and Prejudice is equally appreciated by the general reading public often topping international polls of the “the most loved” or “favorite books” of all time. Numerous stage and screen adaptations continue to remind us of its incredible draw to the modern audience and reaffirm its value financially and culturally. Its hero and heroine Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet may be the most famous romantic couple short of Romeo and Juliet. Its plot, characters and style have been widely admired, often emulated but rarely equaled. High praise indeed for a novel written almost two hundred years ago by a clergyman’s daughter raised in the English countryside of Hampshire, home schooled by her father and unexalted in her lifetime. If Pride and Prejudice is the long shot of literature, then we are the lucky owners in the winner’s circle.
First published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice was Jane Austen’s second novel after Sense and Sensibility in 1811. Written between 1796 and 1797, when Jane was not one and twenty, the edition we see today was not her first concept. Originally called First Impressions it was written in the epistolary format popular with contemporary novels such as Fanny Burney’s Evelina. Jane’s father Rev. George Austen was so confident in his daughter’s work that he pursued publication contacting one of the leading publishers Cadell & Davies in London only to have the manuscript returned by post unopened. After the success of Sense and Sensibility, Austen would make extensive revisions “lopping and cropping” the manuscript, retitling it and presenting it to her current publisher Thomas Egerton. He paid her £110 for the copyright. That was the only money she would ever earn from her most popular work. It is estimated that 20 million copies of it have been sold world-wide to date.
Set in the country village of Longbourn in Hertfordshire, the story revolves around the Bennet family and their five unmarried daughters. They are the first family of consequence in the village, unfortunately the Longbourn estate is entailed by default to a male heir, their cousin Mr. William Collins. This is distressful to Mrs. Bennet who knows that she must find husbands for her daughters or they shall all be destitute if her husband should die. Mr. Bennet is not as concerned and spends his time in his library away from his wife’s idle chatter and social maneuvering. The second eldest daughter Elizabeth is spirited and confident, wanting only to marry for love. She teases her eldest sister Jane that she must catch a wealthy husband with her beauty and good nature and support them. The three younger sisters Mary, Catherine and Lydia hinder their sister’s chances for a good match by inappropriate and unguarded behavior.
When Mr. Bingley, a single man of large fortune, moves into the neighborhood with his fashionable sisters he attends the local Meryton assembly ball and is immediately taken with beautiful Jane Bennet. His friend Mr. Darcy is even richer with a great estate in Derbyshire, but is proud and arrogant giving offense to all including Elizabeth by refusing to dance with her. She overhears him tell Bingley that she was only tolerable and not handsome enough to tempt him. This amuses and annoys her enough to repeat it to her friends and family. The whole community declares him the most disagreeable man, eaten up with pride.
Elizabeth and Darcy continue to cross paths and she challenges his contempt with impertinence. He is intrigued. She is indifferent. When the militia regiment arrives at Meryton, Elizabeth is introduced to the handsome Lieutenant Wickham who quickly reveals Mr. Darcy’s ill treatment of him, ruining his future. This only confirms Elizabeth’s prejudices against him. Jane and Bingley’s blossoming relationship seems to be a certain match in Mrs. Bennet’s view. As she brags about it to her neighbors, Elizabeth’s friend Charlotte Lucas is not so sure, advising her that Jane should show more affection than she feels. The Bennet’s cousin Rev. Collins arrives with the design of marrying one of the Bennet daughters. He is an odious, pompous man who extols upon the condescension of his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh and his comfortable arrangement as her pastor on her estate in Kent. He proposes to Elizabeth and she is appalled, refusing him. Mrs. Bennet will never speak to Lizzy if she does not marry Mr. Collins. Ironically, her father will not speak to her if she does, winning the argument and saving Elizabeth from certain misery.
Then, as abruptly as Mr. Bingley arrived in the county, he and his party depart for London with no immediate plans to return. Jane is heartbroken, Elizabeth puzzled and Mrs. Bennet despondent. Elizabeth is pleased that Mr. Darcy is gone, but saddened for her sisters loss of Bingley. What could it all mean? Elizabeth suspects Mr. Darcy and Bingley’s snobbish sisters have influenced his decision. The Bennet’s are not refined or rich enough for their society and they have separated them. Surprisingly, Charlotte Lucas reveals that she and Mr. Collins are to be married. Impossible declares Elizabeth who is told by her friend that she is not romantic like her. Elizabeth now realizes that marrying only for love might mean not marrying at all.
We hope that you can join us during ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ as we discover the delights of one of Jane Austen’s most witty and romantic novels. We can guarantee absolutely a whole month of P&P madness sans zombies, vampires, werewolves, sea monsters, mummies, androids, trolls, angels, demons and any other paranormal or mythical creatures that are even thinking about appearing in a Jane Austen mash-up, prequel, retelling or sequel.
If you would like to join in the group read it’s time to read (or recite from memory) the first seven chapters. Be prepared to express your opinions decidedly. You can check out the event schedule and join in the group read of the novel which begins tomorrow, June 16th. Laurel Ann is also in a spring cleaning frenzy and culling her overflowing Austen bookshelves, so swag will run amuck.
We promise that no natural beauty will be counteracted by an awkward taste. ;-) Cross our heart and swear upon our Old Manor House edition of The Novels of Jane Austen, edited by R. Brimley Johnson (1906).
‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ Day 1 Giveaway
Enter a chance to win one copy of Penguin Classics edition Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about the novel, or which is your favorite quote by midnight, Saturday, July 24th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 25th. Shipment to continental US addresses only. Good luck!
Upcoming Event Posts
Day 2 – June 16 Group Read: Chapters 1-7
Day 3 – June 18 P&P Publishing History
Day 4 – June 19 Group Read: Chapter 8-14
I know I can’t be entered but I just wanted to say that I very often quote Mr Darcy when I’m overloaded with work (both at home and at school) . “I shall conquer this”… I try to convince myself .
Thanks for another great event, Laurel Ann.
Maria – you are welcome. Hope you will join in. I always enjoy your insights.
What a concept – actual, real-and-true Austen! I love it! I always seem to love the older men in Austen’s novels. Mr. Bennet’s conversations with Mrs. Bennet never fail to make me laugh —
Great event! One never can have too many copies of P&P. In fact, it was the first book I downloaded into my eReader!
Ditto on the 1st book to download on my nook. Actually, it was one of 3 free eBooks I received. B&N has good taste.
Thanks for k=joining in Melanie. LA
This is my absolute favorite of Austen’s novels!
My favorite quote from Lizzie:
And those are the words of a gentleman. From the first moment I met you, your arrogance and conceit, your selfish disdain for the feelings of others made me realize that you were the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry.
Agree. One of the best quotes Shelly. I also like “I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself.” Elizabeth Bennet, Ch 36
What intrigues me about the novel is that it’s a window into that time period, and yet still manages to be relevant today.
Well said Jessica. Timeless themes identifiable to all. A treasure to be sure.
My favorite quote is this little gem: “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?” What intrigues me is the delicate balance between love and social/financial security. Only a few years (and perhaps a want of beauty on Charlotte’s part) separate Lizzie and Charlotte; their circumstances are similar. What impels Charlotte Lucas to cast herself off in desperation to Mr. Collins while Lizzie turns down 2 perfectly “good” proposals? At what point did a woman decide she had to act for her family’s sake and not for her own?
The point for Charlotte was age 27. I often wonder if Lizzy and Darcy had not gotten together, would she have married another? I don’t think so.
Hey! Jane Austen = homeschooler! Never thought about it that way before! I like it.
I hadn’t dropped in here in a while and I have to say, I love the whole idea. I have not read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and I don’t intend to. I think the whole thing is just weird.
Hi Amanda, nice to see you again. Hope you can join in the group read. Thanks for visiting. LA
Hi,Laurel and friends-I love this whole back to basics approach to Jane(even tho I like some of the monster mash versions of her work)and did a little write-up on this event at my blog today.
I also added in a few YouTube clips that should go along with the them rather nicely(and links to Austenprose as well!):
I will probably observe silently from the sidelines here but would like to add my two cents in on occasion,if that’s cool.
Great blog Lady T. I am not opposed to zombies or other paranormal or mythical creatures. I just craved Austen alone and could not pass up the opportunity to make a parody of a parody in my event name “P&P without Zombies”. Hope to see you around. LA
PS Thanks for the shoutout
It’s much too hard to pick a favorite quote. One that is currently entertaining me is from the ball at Netherfield: “Heaven forbid-that would be the greatest misfortune of all!-To find a man agreeable whom one is determined to hate!-Do not wish me such an evil!”
Kristin – one of my fav quotes too. It is foreshadowing her future I think. LA
I love this idea! I can’t wait to reread one of my favorite books along with so many other Janeites!
It’s hard to pick just one favorite quote, so I’ll choose two:
#1 – a cliche, perhaps, but it’s a classic first line for a reason: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
#2 – “I cannot fix on the hour, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” (Mr. Darcy) — I just love the idea of not knowing you’re in love until you’re in the middle of it. It’s just so perfect and right. Love can really sneak up on you.
Hi Meredith, so happy you will be joining in. Two great quotes. I like the “dearest, loveliest Elizabeth” bit myself! LA
I am new to this blog, but not to Jane Austen, although it has been almost thirty years since I last read Pride & Prejudice, so I am very much looking forward to reading it again in such lively company. I am working on costumes for a Jane Austen themed picnic that my husband will be attending in August and rereading her works will be a wonderful way to immerse myself in an “Austen Summer”. Thank you so much for orgainizing this event!
Hi Kelly. 30 years. Oh you are up for a P&P marathon if I every saw one. The Austen picnic sounds enchanting. Glad your joining in. LA
“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, … I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” Darcy
Great one Fatima. Hard to top that. LA
I’ve always seen P&P as a David (Lizzy) and Goliath (Darcy) story. Instead of slinging rocks, Lizzy hurls witticisms and brilliant bits of wisdom that bring Darcy to his knees, and from that more humble position, he sees her value and falls in love.
I am going to choose something that intrigues me about the novel….I guess it is the energy that happens when the characters interact….the energy between the sisters, between Elizabeth and Mr. Collins, the energy between Mr. and Mrs, Bennet (and friction), and most importantly, between Elizabeth and Darcy. I love the idea of Longbourn itself. What a family, and to be a fly on the wall at Longbourn!
“Yes,” replied Darcy, who could contain himself no longer, “but that was only when I first knew her, for it is months since I have considered her as one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance.”
“She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.” Mr. Darcy
The one line upon which Elizabeth’s prejudice is built.
I find little tidbits in P&P that I can quote anytime. “Happy thought indeed,” “I dearly love a laugh,” “I am all astonishment,” etc. Even my dad quotes the 1995 BBC movie version, “Have a care, Dawkins.”
What intrigues me most about P&P is Elizabeth herself. When I first read the book, Lizzy was like a breath of fresh air. Even the romance, as wonderful as it is, took a back seat to the fact of Elizabeth’s existence. (I like Mr Darcy for the way he is Just Right for her, but I don’t think of him as the center of the P&P universe.) I love Lizzy’s statement to him that her courage rises with each attempt to intimidate her.
Knowing that the most famous quotes will have already been given, here are three of the gems that I like:
In Chapter 55, Lizzie says to Jane: “Till I have your disposition, your goodness, I never can have your happiness.”
In Chapter 56, Lizzie says to Lady Catherine de Bourgh: “I have said no such thing. I am only resolved to act in that manner which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.”
In Chapter 57, Lizzie says to Mr. Bennet: “I am excessively diverted.”