Penguin Books, 2003 (1813)
Literature Classics, English, 367 pages.
It has been quite a while since I last wrote something on this blog. My moving back to Indonesia has taken much of my time, so many things to do or prepare, changing places to live during the transition period, that all made me ‘not in the mood’ to sit and write. But my reading continued, and I have read some books that I would like to write a ‘short review’ on them. Those books are now still in their journey back to Indonesia in the cargo. So for several review onwards, that will be about the books I read within this changing and transferring time going back home.
I read this book after I had read the review in this blog about Jane Austen’s books. Of course I have known Austen’s books since a long time, but have never really finished reading any of her books; a few chapters in the beginning then I dropped it for its (too) difficult language. I watched the movies that were made based on her works and loved them all, and for the Pride and Prejudice movie in particular, I watched it several times and always liked it. One comment somewhere in that blog that intrigued me to really picked up an Austen’s novel is that she says that she loves very much the writing of Jane Austen, and even though you have watched the films it is still much worth it to still read the books. So with a right mood and a right moment I read this book.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
Jane Austen opens this book with that phrase that probably reflects the ‘most occupying business’ of her era in eighteenth century. Typical of Austen works, the theme is about intrigues in human relations, specially between men and women, bachelors trying to find a wife, girls in waiting for the important phase of their lives, marriage, with family matters, social status, and relationship conflicts in between. Of course, above all, it is about love, and though the theme above sounds so common, I found that in Austen’s hand all becomes so real, alive, and funny in some parts. Here she describes how pride, as well as prejudice, can lead to misperception of characters and how it all complicates the feelings, hopes, relations, and may end us up in a totally different life if we cling tightly to this misperception.
A nice surprise for me, this time I enjoyed much her words and prose. Many people fan Austen for many different reasons. To me, Austen is genial in describing subtle emotions. You can capture a slight change in feelings during conversation or a drift of hopes that happens when the character is thinking, and that makes this reading rewarding. Love, regret or hope are described in a beautiful way, with carefully chosen words, beautiful and deep. (I dog-eared many pages when I was reading it, wanting to make notes of all that, but unfortunately I cannot put them here as the book is now not with me). I also noticed some ‘new’ words (for me) that are quite everywhere in this book; they are actually old words that are now used quite rarely in contemporary literature, such as wither, thither, staid.
While reading this book, I could not help thinking about the movie “Pride and Prejudice”. This is hardly avoided as I had watched the movie before I read the book and I watched it several times. The character Elizabeth, with Keira Knightley in the movie, is played quite well. Only in some conversations I thought that the character Elizabeth in the movie is a bit ‘too playful’, while what I got from the book is not really like that. This might be a subjective interpretation from reading the book. Also for the character of Mr. Darcy, the one in the movie quite fits, and so does the characters of Mr. Collins, father, mother, Jane and others. Specifically about Mr. Collins, in the book, his speech and letters are described in such a way that would make you really want to get rid of this person! In the book, my favorite character, beside the main character Elizabeth, is the father; logic, not talkative, and rather dreamy in certain times; and my favorite line is his answer when he agrees not marrying Elizabeth with Mr. Collins.
As for the plot, I found the plot in the movie is a bit different than the one in the book. Of course the one in the movie is made simplified, but I found a different switch on the scene when Mr. Darcy confesses his feeling to Elizabeth and how he does that. I am not sure if that change was made merely to make it simpler or for other reason, but I prefer the one in the book.
Well, after having read the book, I would prefer much the book than the movie. I put on my DVD again afterwards, and this time I found that I did not really like it. It loses some of the depth and sentimentality though overall it is not a bad movie (the music and surrounding really helped me imagining the scenes in the book). It is just that I have found other source of the story which is able to describe the emotions deeper and so has given me an enjoyable read.
This is my first Austen’s book that I read cover to cover. Humbly, I personally considered it as an ‘achievement’, as I have never done that before. Reading classics may be a simple thing to others, but to me it is not always easy. Again, it is quite rewarding even along the way when reading it (unexpectedly, a nice surprise for me!) and I have been eyeing on other Austen’s works to start with again at a later part (maybe Emma).
It seems that I have eventually written a long ‘review’ on this book. I thought I had forgotten much as I read it a few months back, but apparently I still have many thoughts on it. A memorable book.
Balikpapan, 22 October 2010