Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Writer's Perspective: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice is another book I started and then took months to read. :P Started at the end of January and finished some time in June, and typed up most of this then.
It was worth reading if only for the characters, big vocabulary, and diversity in the books I read. And it felt so refreshing.

It is written in a simple style like the Grimm brothers' in recording fairy tales with little to no description, or that of a newspaper written in the 1800s with commentary, and I found it pleasantly entertaining.  The only difference is that Jane Austen goes deep into her character's heads and doesn't return for pages sometimes.  She tells. She doesn't show very much, but when she does show a side of someone's character by a gesture or sudden smile I notice it.  It was very refreshing to read another old book.

There's much less description here than in Charles Dickens' volumes and it gets right to what's happening. This has strengths and weaknesses. One strength is that you don't have paragraphs of description you don't want to read through, as most readers agree that too much description is bad.
But if you haven't watched an adaption of the book, it can be hard to imagine what the characters look like and sometimes they can be mixed up. It was hard to imagine anything in the book without referring to the movie adaptations.

The thing about classics is that they seem easier to read than everyone is telling me. True, you occasionally have to read the whole of a long sentence several times in order to understand what it means and not misunderstand it, and omit phrases like you learn in English to get to the core of what the sentence is saying, and look up words in the dictionary, but I found it fun to learn how people used to talk back then.

The biggest strengths in this book were:

The dialogue - Most of the time I could tell who was speaking just from how they talked.

The characters - They were much more fleshed out in the book than in the movie with Keira Knightley, as good as it was, and I better understood their flaws and virtues from the book.

The realistic simplicity - Austen probably borrowed from realistic life more than she did from fiction. There were no movies to borrow inspiration from then as opposed to now, where it takes days to finish tv shows and it's easy to spend more time in the fictional world than in the real world.

There were a few times I wanted to stop reading the book but I pushed through and am glad I did.
I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in the 1800s, Jane Austen, an example of good romance, or simply an old book that's considered a classic.