Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Paperback Book


Despite the astringency of her writing, Austen is often thought of as the mother of romance.

She has made the Regency period (1811-1820) almost synonymous with modern popular notions of the romantic.

Directly or indirectly, she has influenced romantic novels by authors such as Georgette Heyer and Daphne du Maurier and supermarket fodder of the sort published by Mills and Boon.

Of all her books, though, it is Pride and Prejudice which comes closest to delivering the fairytale story of the ordinary girl who catches and marries a prince.

As Janet Todd shows in this entertaining guide, however, it is not just the most inventive and ebullient of her works, but also the one which closes with the heroine most in the ascendancy and least controlled by either parent or husband.

Here, for the only time in Austen's novels, the romantic dream of bourgeois individualism taming aristocratic authority actually does come true.

But if, on one level, Pride and Prejudice is a reworking of the Cinderella story, it is a fiction of much greater depth than Austen's ironic, self-deprecating description of it as "rather too light & bright & sparkling" would suggest. "Beneath the light, bright and sparkling surface," says Edward Neill, "it investigates the social heart of darkness." In Pride and Prejudice, Austen explores not just what it is like to be a girl in search of a suitable husband, but what it is to be human, brilliantly illuminating the difficulties of the individual living within society and the necessity constantly to reconcile personal needs with those of the wider world around one.




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