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

Next to the exhortation at the beginning of Moby-Dick, "Call me Ishmael," the first sentence of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice must be among the most quoted in literature. And certainly what Melville did for whaling Austen does for marriage--tracing the intricacies (not to mention the economics) of 19th-century British mating rituals with a sure hand and an unblinking eye. As usual, Austen trains her sights on a country village and a few families--in this case, the Bennets, the Philips, and the Lucases. Into their midst comes Mr. Bingley, a single man of good fortune, and his friend, Mr. Darcy, who is even richer. Mrs. Bennet, who married above her station, sees their arrival as an opportunity to marry off at least one of her five daughters. Bingley is complaisant and easily charmed by the eldest Bennet girl, Jane; Darcy, however, is harder to please. Put off by Mrs. Bennet's vulgarity and the untoward behavior of the three younger daughters, he is unable to see the true worth of the older girls, Jane and Elizabeth. His excessive pride offends Lizzy, who is more than willing to believe the worst that other people have to say of him; when George Wickham, a soldier stationed in the village, does indeed have a discreditable tale to tell, his words fall on fertile ground.

Having set up the central misunderstanding of the novel, Austen then brings in her cast of fascinating secondary characters: Mr. Collins, the sycophantic clergyman who aspires to Lizzy's hand but settles for her best friend, Charlotte, instead; Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Darcy's insufferably snobbish aunt; and the Gardiners, Jane and Elizabeth's low-born but noble-hearted aunt and uncle. Some of Austen's best comedy comes from mixing and matching these representatives of different classes and economic strata, demonstrating the hypocrisy at the heart of so many social interactions. And though the novel is rife with romantic misunderstandings, rejected proposals, disastrous elopements, and a requisite happy ending for those who deserve one, Austen never gets so carried away with the romance that she loses sight of the hard economic realities of 19th-century matrimonial maneuvering. Good marriages for penniless girls such as the Bennets are hard to come by, and even Lizzy, who comes to sincerely value Mr. Darcy, remarks when asked when she first began to love him: "It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley." She may be joking, but there's more than a little truth to her sentiment, as well. Jane Austen considered Elizabeth Bennet "as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print". Readers of Pride and Prejudice would be hard-pressed to disagree. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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ISBN-10:  0141439513
ISBN-13:  978-0141439518
Author:  Jane Austen
Genre:  Classics
Publisher:  Penguin Books Ltd
Date Published:  December 31, 2002
ISBN:  0141439513 /9780141439518
Format:  Paperback
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review by . March 26, 2011
The marriage, property and inheritance laws of the late 18th and early 19th century, by today's standards, can be considered cruelly misogynistic.      The Bennett family estate is entailed and, as Mr Bennett's family consists of his wife and five daughters (nary a son in sight), there is a strong likelihood that, when he passes away, the six surviving ladies will be left homeless and with no income or property. Mrs Bennett is deeply concerned with the situation and frantically …
review by . June 08, 2010
I love this book because it especially easy for someone who has ever been confused about a romantic relationship (aka everyone) to identify with Elizabeth Bennett or Mr. Darcy. The travails of either being pursued or pursuing ourselves are part of the core set of experiences that traverse through every branch of humanity. The Chase is an integral part of the human experience and Jane Austen's classic does a marvelous job of adding in appropriate amounts of family humor and theater drama to …
Quick Tip by . October 08, 2010
Pride and Prejudice vividly illustrates a caste of 18th century polite society. One learns about about what's good and what's bad and what's sheisty. It's so cool, because the sassy heroine of limited fortune attracts the rich, good-looking (appears to be stuck up but he's just "proper")
review by . July 04, 2010
I am not much of one for reading old, complicated prose books- I really prefer contemporary lit. But I wanted to give this a shot simply because it is such a institution. I was pleasantly surprised- it reads like an old novel, and could be considered long-winded by today's standards, but somehow I was hung up the entire time! its just such a fun book. you get so interested in all the couples in the book, i really responded to everyone. A lot of their problems were things that are completely …
review by . July 21, 2010
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is the most favorite of all the Austen novels to me.  The plot is so well constructed and the characters are amazingly colorful and more than just two dimensional.  Mr. Darcy, the male protagonist of the novel has a wonderful dark-brooding side to him.  The mystery of his aura is enough to make any woman swoon.  It is completely understandable how Miss Elizabeth Bennett could both love and disdain him.  Lizzie's older sister, Jane …
review by . June 08, 2010
I have read Pride and Prejudice twice. Both times were for a class I was taking. The first time was senior year in high school and I hated it. Second time was in my humanities class in college and enjoyed it. So this review is based on my second time reading it.   Pride and Prejudice is a novel written by Jane Austin way back in the 1800's. One thing I find fascinating about this novel is that the relationship between men and women have not changed very much since then. Granted the …
Quick Tip by . July 21, 2010
A classic story. I love Jane Austen! She's a wonderful author.
review by . July 17, 2010
Of Jane Austen's six novels, Pride and Prejudice is arguably the most beloved.  Main character Elizabeth Bennet has long been held up as an ideal for many a young woman.  But what really makes Austen's stories special is her sharp and witty insight into the natures of both women and men.  This shines through especially in her collection of characters in Pride and Prejudice.  While famous for her lovable heroines, Austen gives us equally entertaining male leads.  …
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
It's a classic for a reason. Who doesn't want Mr. Darcy to sweep them off their independent, strong-willed feet?
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
Great Classic!!! The humor is very subtle, but once you get through the old english style you'll catch on and it's quite humorous. Great love story too! :)
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