‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Supper at the Netherfield Ball in Pride and Prejudice

Gentle Readers: in celebration of the ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ event over the next month, I have asked several of my fellow Jane Austen bloggers to share their knowledge and interest in Austen’s most popular novel. Today, please welcome guest blogger Vic from Jane Austen’s World who shares with us her extensive knowledge of Regency culture and history in four posts during the event. Her third contribution is on dinning at the Netherfield Ball. Learn all about what the guests would have been served at Mr. Bingley’s lavish multiple course meal.

“As for the ball, it is quite a settled thing; and as soon as Nicholls has made white soup enough I shall send round my cards.” – Charles Bingley, Pride and Prejudice

The sit-down supper served at the Netherfield Ball in Pride and Prejudice probably occurred around midnight. By that time, people would be famished after their physical exertions or from playing cards nonstop in the card room. They had most likely eaten their dinner between 3-5 p.m. (earlier in the country, and later in Town). Dinners consisted of between 5-16 dishes and could last several hours. The best families would serve up two courses, for a meal’s lavishness depended on the number of courses and dishes that were served. Dishes representing a range of foods, from soups to vegetables and meats, would be spread over the table in a pleasing arrangement and would be set down at the beginning of the meal.

Continue reading at Jane Austen’s World

Further reading

Upcoming event posts

Day 15  July 07     Group Read: Chapters 43 – 49
Day 16  July 09     William Gilpin and Jane Austen
Day 17  July 10     Group Read: Chapters 50 – 56

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Publishing History of Pride and Prejudice

First edition of Pride and Prejudice

Gentle Readers: in celebration of ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ I have asked several of my fellow Jane Austen bloggers to share their knowledge and interest in Austen’s most popular novel. Today, please welcome guest blogger Katherine from November’s Autumn as she shares with us the long and winding publishing history of Jane Austen’s “darling child”, Pride and Prejudice.

It’s difficult to believe that the work synonymous with Jane Austen struggled being published. Originally titled First Impressions Jane completed the first draft when she was only twenty-one years old. Often read aloud at home it became a family favorite. Her father, the Rev. George Austen, sent a copy to Thomas Cadell of London’s Cadell & Davies publishing on November 1, 1797 introducing it as:

“A Manuscript Novel, comprised in three Vols. about the length of Miss Burney’s Evelina”

It was rejected by a return of unopened post. It’s curious to ponder what would have happened had it been published at this point. No doubt Austen’s genius still shone through. Maybe early success as a writer would have given us more than the precious six novels. Alas, Pride and Prejudice wouldn’t be published until eleven years later. It went through extensive revision, changing from a series of letters, perhaps from Elizabeth to Jane, into the famous novel we’re acquainted with.

Continue reading at November’s Autumn

Further reading

Upcoming Event Posts

Day 4 – June 19 Group Read: Chapters 8-14
Day 5 – June 20 P&P (Naxos Audio) Review
Day 6 – June 21 Fashions at the Netherfield Ball

Pride and Prejudice: Group Read – Chapters 1-7: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day 2 Giveaway

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. The Narrator, Chapter 1

Quick Synopsis

Charles Bingley, a single man of good fortune lets the estate of Netherfield Park, bringing his two fashionable sisters and rich friend Mr. Darcy into the social sphere of the Bennet family of Longbourn, local gentry who have five daughters to marry off with little dowry. Bingley is immediately attracted to eldest sister Jane, but Mr. Darcy finds no beauty in anyone and snubs second daughter Elizabeth by refusing to dance with her. His proud airs and arrogant manners give offense to all. The ladies of Longbourn visit the supercilious Bingley sisters at Netherfield. Elizabeth and Darcy cross paths. He is intrigued by her spirit and fine eyes. She thinks him disagreeable and proud. Mrs. Bennet brags about Jane and Bingley’s romance, convinced they will marry. Charlotte Lucas is not so certain. Jane is invited to Netherfield arriving on horseback in the rain, catching a cold. Elizabeth visits her having walked 3 miles in the mud. The Bingley sisters are appalled by her appearance, but ask her to stay to tend to her sister.

Musings

For as many times as I have seen the often over-quoted first line of Pride and Prejudice it still makes me laugh. Its verbal irony just sets the tone of the novel and makes me value Austen’s skill as a storyteller all the more. Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, two wealthy and eligible bachelors, do not enter the neighborhood in want of a wife. Quite the contrary. That they should be the rightful property of one of the local daughters is the truth universally acknowledged. It is the ladies of the community who are in need of a husband. A good match was what was expected of a young lady, and Mrs. Bennet with her five daughters, little dowry and an entailed estate is determined that it will happen. The fact that two such eligible gentlemen land unannounced in a neighborhood with few other local prospects is a gold mine to her, and every other mother in the county. No wonder she is in frenzy and determined to beat the other local families to his door. Mr. Bennet is nonplused. He would rather stay in his library than do his duty to his family, keeping them in suspense with the news that he has already introduced himself to his new neighbor. When Mr. Bingley and his party do appear at the Meryton Assembly, only one of the two gentlemen makes the cut. Bingley is amiable and agreeable, dancing and socializing. A true good catch. But his friend Mr. Darcy, though handsome, and richer, gives immediate offense to all with his arrogance and pride.

His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and every body hoped that he would never come there again. The Narrator, Chapter 3

When he snubs our heroine Elizabeth Bennet by calling her only tolerable and not handsome enough to tempt him to dance, we know that this black mark will not be easy to erase. I have always been puzzled that the community would be so quick to condemn him just based on his haughty demeanor. Money and social standing can be a strong equalizer of any shortfall. It is easy to forgive a rich man his offenses because, he has all the power. Wise Charlotte Lucas sees this and tells her friend Lizzy so, though in a round-about-way.

“His pride,” said Miss Lucas, “does not offend me so much as pride often does, because there is an excuse for it. One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, everything in his favour, should think highly of himself. If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud.”

“That is very true,” replied Elizabeth, “and I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.” Charlotte Lucas and Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 5

That Mrs. Bennet is so quick to disqualify Darcy as a prospect for one of her daughters is amusing. Both Bingley and Darcy are rich and socially connected, yet she is vehemently opposed to Darcy because of his arrogant manners. In the Regency world, that is not prudent. Austen is showing us that Mrs. Bennet is not a clever woman, or she would be scheming to win his favor for one of her girls. Charlotte Lucas on the other hand reveals to Elizabeth how the world really works. Elizabeth who has declared she will only marry for love is quick to disqualify Darcy for her own personal reasons. He has wounded her pride by calling her only tolerable. She instantly agrees with her mother on her assessment of him. “I believe, ma’am, I may safely promise you never to dance with him.” Austen is showing us Elizabeth’s rash judgment in siding with her mother. We know from Mrs. Bennet’s previous conversations that she is not the best judge of character or the sharpest knife in the drawer. Elizabeth is clever. For her to succumb to her mother’s level is a red flag.

Mr. Darcy had at first scarcely allowed her to be pretty; he had looked at her without admiration at the ball; and when they next met, he looked at her only to criticise. But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. The Narrator, Chapter 6

Hmm? Darcy is changing his tact? Why? What intrigues him about Elizabeth enough to admit his interest in a young lady of no wealth and little consequence to his friends? That opens himself up for attack. Elizabeth notices him watching her and is puzzled. Her reaction is to harden her line of defense. “He has a very satirical eye, and if I do not begin by being impertinent myself, I shall soon grow afraid of him.” Then in an act of total defiance she refuses to dance with him when he finally asks her, walking away in triumph. Nice psychological interchange here. Unknowingly, Elizabeth has just given him the strongest reasons to want her. Her indifference and rejection. It’s as old as the ages and works every time. Men cannot stand to lose. They love the chase. We know how much this has affected him when of all people, he admits to Caroline Bingley that he admires her fine eyes. Bold strategy to derail Caroline’s interest in him, or the impulse of smitten man? Caroline’s reaction is classic female counteract. Deride your opponent. “I am all astonishment. How long has she been such a favourite? — and pray, when am I to wish you joy?”  Ouch.

“I admire the activity of your benevolence,” observed Mary, “but every impulse of feeling should be guided by reason; and, in my opinion, exertion should always be in proportion to what is required.” Mary Bennet, Chapter 7

Just a brief word on Mary Bennet. A minor character, she only has eight passages of lines in the novel. This is one of her best. On the few occasions that she does speak, they are gems of ironic subjection. A giant punctuation point of out-of-sync advice that never fails to roll my eyes. Hear, hear for the clueless, the inept, and the oblivious! Thanks for the laughs Mary.

Further reading

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Day 2 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Barnes & Noble Classics edition Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about Mr. Darcy’s change of heart toward Elizabeth, or which is your favorite quote from the novel 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 3 – June 18 P&P Publishing History
Day 4 – June 19 Group Read: Chapters 8-14
Day 5 – June 20 P&P (Naxos Audio) Review

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Event & Novel Introduction: Day 1 Giveaway

Welcome

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.

Novel Introduction

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.

List of Characters

Reading Resources

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).

Laurel Ann

‘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

Welcome to ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ – Reclaiming the Classic

“I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”

Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 5

Welcome, to ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’, an in depth look at Jane Austen’s delightfully witty and compellingly romantic novel Pride and Prejudice. Please join us June 15th through July 17th 2010 as we reclaim Jane Austen’s classic novel back from the unmentionables and celebrate it as the classic of world literature that it deserves to be. Included will be a group read of the novel and discussion, guest bloggers, and plenty of great giveaways.

Is Mr. Darcy proud or shy?

Is Elizabeth Bennet playful or impertinent?

How can two such divergent personalities

find common ground and affection?

Event introduction Group reading schedule Event Schedule