This is how the book begins. It is supposedly driven by the idea, and in general it is, but there is of course more to this book.
The social security and merely having a wife doesn't have anything to do with the main story. This book is very romantic, but not in such a way as tissues or anything are required, no, it's more of silly romantic, or smart romantic. It makes me feel good, and smarter.
I am very fond of this book. I remember now that I still haven't read The English Patient. I heard its romance is hard to beat, but I wonder, does it beat Pride and Prejudice?
The English is not difficult. I thought it would've been difficult to follow. The vocabulary is more shallow than of Tolkien. The only problem are the sentences, which are often unusually long, and in a funny word order. Sometimes it is difficult to comprehend descriptions and conversations. It's not hard to merely follow the story.
Gosh, Chapter 56! It leaves me breathless whenever I read it. It's the episode of Lady Catherine de Bourgh paying a visit to the Bennet family, when she isolates Elizabeth and engages her into a swording duel. Merely the setting, that prettyish kind of a little wilderness on one side of the lawn, is thrilling enough, but when their swords clash (it is a word-duel), I am sure that one of them is going to die, even though I've read the chapter many times, do you understand. It's so good.
This is grand fiction. The words and settings are engaging. I had great problems with stopping and postponing my readings. It's one of those books that teases you, yet it does that civilly, so you never start to hate it, but love it more with every chapter. The ending culminating chapters may result in harm, be warned.
* * *
Watching Pride and Prejudice (1995, BBC TV series in six 50 minutes parts, starring Colin Firth)
The first two shots show us the two most interesting characters: proud Mr. Darcy as he and his friend ride from the north to look for an estate to settle on. Afterwards the camera moves to a local girl, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, as she is keenly observing them from the top of the hill, enjoying the countryside, looking content with herself, being a modern woman of the 18th century.
Next we meet all of the Bennet family: Mr. and Mrs. Bennet have five daughters but no son. Their main project, particularly of Mrs. Bennet's, is to find five male matches. What a bold plan! But Mrs. Bennet has all the vigor you could imagine. She is the key humorous figure. Although full of energy, she never really gets on our nerves. She is mostly harmless.
The five Bennet girls have it all: some are pretty, some silly, all read all the time, and merely two know their best manners: Jane is the oldest, and she is thought to be the most beautiful too. As for me, I could not move my eyes off Elizabeth, who is the next in age. She is the most beautiful in my opinion. She is also very clever, she's all wits. Her father is particularly fond of her, and I can see why. I too would like to have a daughter like her. But first, I would like to have a girlfriend like her.
From the start there is no doubt that she will be the most captivating character, the one that will set the pace of our hearts.
If Elizabeth is the most lovely, then Darcy is the most interesting in every other respect. His pride lends a half to the book title, he's direct, and always rough on first acquaintance. He's handsome, smart, and knows to talk with sense and logic beauty. He's memorable. I can't forget him, but want to get to know him better. Since he's essentially a good guy, he improves on acquaintance.
I myself don't care much about money too, just like Mr. Darcy. He has a lot more, of course, and it's not that hard to be indifferent to money when you aren't exactly poor. However, we know that money can't buy you happiness, and many are unhappy in spite of being rich. Still, I guess even more are unhappy because they are poor, but sometimes I wonder if this is entirely true.
Soon the party meets Mr. Darcy and his friend Mr. Bingley at the local ball. Darcy keeps exclusively to himself. Such manners! Why won't he dance? He says it would be insupportable (i.e. unpleasant). The conversation of Bingley trying to force Darcy into a dance with a girl, why not Elizabeth, is particularly funny (as well as extremely cruel, I say):
(BINGLEY): "Come, Darcy, I must have you dance! I must. I hate to see you standing about in this stupid manner! You had much better dance!"
(DARCY): "I certainly shall not. At an assembly such as this? It would be insupportable. Your sisters are engaged. You know it would punish me to stand up with any other woman."
(BINGLEY): "Good God, Darcy! I wouldn't be as fastidious as you are for a kingdom! Upon my honour, I never met so many pleasant girls in my life! Several of them uncommonly pretty."
(DARCY): "You have been dancing with the only handsome girl in the room."
(BINGLEY): "Darcy, she is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld. Look, look! There's one of her sisters (staring at Elizabeth). She's very pretty too. I daresay very agreeable."
(DARCY): "She's tolerable, I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me. I'm in no humour to consider young ladies who are slighted by other men. Go back to your partner. Enjoy her smiles. You're wasting your time on me."
This conversation is held within the hearing distance of Elizabeth, mind that!
This is how Elizabeth gets acquainted with Darcy for the first time. She then makes a promise to her mother to never accept his proposal: "I may safely promise you never to dance with Mr Darcy."
She should've known better!
The girl outfits seem rather funny. Why are they worn so high? I can't imagine if they are comfortable. It looks like everybody got pregnant, and it certainly makes them look a bit chubby. Perhaps they were a bit fatter those days, while in every other scene they are gathered around a generously laid table, and nobody is ever shown to exercise in any manner, save for Elizabeth going on hikes around the countryside and playing with the dog, and Darcy horseback riding and swording. See, they even made noble particularly these two in that respect.
I hope you will stumble upon this series, for it is charming with an exceptional acting. The first part (of six) in an ok-DivX can be acquired here (its subtitles can be found here, I myself make them display properly in BSplayer, while of course the DivX Codec must be installed at all).
The film regretfully keeps that abominable line (look at the bottom for details), "... dearest, loveliest Elizabeth!", and I may just as well cut it out of my personal copy.
Having seen Pride & Prejudice (2005, starring Keira Knightley)
It's 2005, and actresses are thinner. They are indeed, and one soon realizes that the breasts of Keira Knightley are much smaller than of Jennifer Ehle.
The film covers the book much quicker than the TV series, but of course, it must, since the runtimes are: 130 and 300 minutes respectively. In many details the film doesn't do justice to the book, and takes original approaches, but that turns out well. Remember that fantastic scene of Darcy giving Elizabeth the letter of explanation. However, in the last part the film "takes matters quite in its own hands", but again doesn't do injustice to Jane Austen, always showing her high respect.
The film is compact and visually polished. I enjoyed the advantageous usage of a beautiful scenery, for many shots are taken outside. The film turns out to be very funny, and it builds some great moments. The pace never lessens. The end happens abruptly, and I particularly enjoyed it, for it's simple. One of the best thing is that the film gets rid of that abominable line, "... dearest, loveliest Elizabeth!".
Two main actors are quite pleasing. Both, Keira Knightley as Elizabeth and Matthew Macfadyen as Darcy, are by every mean worthy of the thrones of Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. The facial expressions and talk of Miss Knightley seem sometime a bit diabolic (as in wicked).
Still, I like the series more, even though this film is more romantic. My current status is: both, the film and series, I've seen twice. When the temptation comes for the 5th time, I shan't resist, and I will choose the series. The film is less than half of the length of the series, which means: 170 minutes less of Pride and Prejudice.
Both leave a sweet taste.
This is a feel-good film. It rises and sets with a rising sun.
This will perhaps not feel like a book example about vanity to you, but it feels fundamental to me. I am to dive deep into my subconsciousness and try to improve my conscious part.
Am I vain, as in excessively proud of my appearance and accomplishments?
I may be. They say that vanity is in everybody, that it's very human. I can't do anything about that, but I can see that it can make us unhappy sometimes.
You can definitely call me names for posting a picture of a girl I knew, and you will be right, but, at the same time, as I've done that, I think I've already become that better a person, a bit more vanity-proof.
Here is a scene from the TV series:
(ELIZABETH about Darcy): "A man without fault?"
(DARCY): "That is not possible for anyone. But it has been my study to avoid those weaknesses which expose ridicule."
(ELIZABETH): "Such as vanity, perhaps, and pride?"
(DARCY): "Yes, vanity is a weakness indeed. But pride ... Where there is a superiority of mind, pride will always be under regulation. I have faults, but I hope they're not of understanding. My temper I cannot vouch for. It might be called resentful. My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever."
(ELIZABETH): "That is a failing indeed, but I cannot laugh at it."
(DARCY): "I believe every disposition has a tendency to some evil."
(ELIZABETH): "Your defect is a propensity to hate everyone."
(DARCY): "Yours is wilfully to misunderstand them."
I think I could not quote the series enough and still not mine it justily for this purpose.
The first girl from the left is Navi Rawat. She is Amita Ramanujan in the new TV series Numb3rs (2005). The girl next to her is A., and she was once almost my girlfriend, and she would've been just that, had I moved my finger a bit differently. However, some things bothered me on her so much that I was never able to move my finger correctly. Sometimes I wished I'd had, for her heart was sweet and pure (yet not entirely), or maybe I should've said that it had been pure, for I might've just as well spoiled it. This is one of my biggest tears.
Navi is Amita is an applied mathematician, pursuing her second Ph.D. in astrophysics. There she is again on the left. Am I in love?
You know about the Genome Project, and you must remember Bill Clinton having announced on June 2000 a successful sequencing of the bigger part of our genome. Prior to that scientists worked on chimps, having sequenced their genome, and now they are telling us that in 98 or so percent their genome equals ours. This sounds like we not only descend from the apes but that we are apes: our long arms, having no tail, our habits and temperaments, everything seems very apish.
Biologists, what a compliment, thank you guys!
This puzzles me. You take a man and chimpanzee, and you can easily tell them apart; given only their DNA, however, you can't.
Could the explanation lies in misunderstanding of genetic differences, and could this paradox of the anatomical differences and the genetic similarity be an illusion?
If we wanted to be serious, we should probably talk of criteria first. Compare DNA sequences, and you've got a match. But to compare a human being to a chimpanzee, one should first ask: "Compare to what?"
Here my weakness of perceiving the nature through the eyes of a mathematician is explicit. Genome can be measured and species easily compared, yet genetic data does not determine our place in nature. Great forces clash at this point: humanness and animalness, beasts and angels, technology and ideology. Math can never encapsulate that.
Still, I can't think without mathematical analogies. They give me a significant reason to live. So I ask myself: If I am, at least DNA-wise, just a part in hundred apart from a chimpanzee, what part in billion am I apart from A.?
The most obvious reason to me why one can't be happy with a physically unappealing partner, is because he can't perceive her (or vice versa) as attractive and can't make himself to enjoy intimacy with her. This is a very dear problem to me. I see only two ways out: either he dumps the girl, or, he matures to the point when he is able to weight contents against appearance in a fair manner, and tries to keep the girl. Nobody's perfect, that's for sure, and sooner one realizes that the better for him, so he is able to recognize beauty in people of great bigger a pool. With bigger a pool there is bigger a chance to crash into a true soul mate. Finding a soul mate isn't spiritual, it can be mathematical: increasing the number of crashes is one way to go.
Last time I checked, however, I was still pretty thickheaded.
Getting obsessed with Pride and Prejudice; suffering from Darcymania; can't get enough of Elizabeth Bennet?
I certainly can't get enough of Elizabeth Bennet.
I've stumbled upon this half serious half crazy recipe for Treating Darcymania:
1. Bookmark The Pride and Prejudice Paradise
2. Borrow the original book, and read it
3. Get The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Sue Birtwistle
4. Borrow the sequels to Pride and Prejudice
5. Try the other books by Jane Austen
6. See the movies based on her books
7. Download the Desktop Theme
8. Buy the soundtrack
9. See the documentaries abut the movie
10. Buy the sheet music for the theme song
However, this list does not help me. I can't say it does, since I've practically went to my boss already, and asked him for some three weeks of leave. Thank heaven for the number 10 won't do for me: My playing piano is ill indeed. But then ... I can learn it better ... yeah, I may do that, and since I am at it, I might just as well get a friend to learn a violin, flute, or hell, a clarinet, so we could play the duets together.
This is not a complete solution, I agree, but it's something, and something is better than nothing, as they say: act, do not observe yourself, act now, and buy those music sheets.
Would I like to lead the life of Mr. Darcy?
I must admit I've been attracted to this particular idea ever since: how lovely would it be to live in the time of Darcy for example, being cosy all the time, reading books besides a fireplace long into nights, still getting up content in mornings, learning piano, meeting attractive people, horseback riding on my own, boundless estate, having my own gym facilities, and in general just trying to be noble all day long, lifelong.
Wouldn't it be lovely to see such time?
It could be, but it would also be highly improbable to actually live like Darcy, because one had to be extremely lucky in those days to have parents from aristocracy. This was very rare. Today a much higher percentage of people can live like Darcy. The world today is much fairer than it used to be, although it is of course still very unfair. With fairness I would like to imply on the world uneven distribution of goods. Picture below shows such distribution, namely 2003 Per Capita GDP (in thousand of 1995 US Dollars) for world population, binned in countries, compared with 1980:
Perhaps you are thinking, how the hell is that fairer, right, since USA and the rest of the West have gained much much more, while the poorer countries have only slightly more. But you have to look at it more relatively. Think about the initial positions for example, country population, and so on. Just look at the bulk in the middle, and see how China and India are doing well. The world is getting fairer. (I mined the data at EIA, 2006.)
Thinking about it again, I would not like to be born in the time of Darcy. The probability of leading a decent life was much smaller than of today. I think it's a good time we live in.
About these heights of times, I can't tell you more, but I can point you to a greater treatise: by José Ortega y Gasset in his Revolt of the Masses.
* * *
Say this' just a trifle, but one particular bit, one single line in the book in the scene just before the end bothers me so much, that it can almost spoil my good feeling about the book. It's when Darcy and Elizabeth are walking together outside, behind Bingley and Jane, and Darcy renews his proposal to Elizabeth. Her answer is memorable. But then - Darcy concludes:
"I was spoilt and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth!"
This is wrong. It so falls out of place. The relationship between the two always felt like a play between a cat and dog which wanted to hurt each other a bit, and then it looks like they are still like a cat and dog, except they try not to hurt each other any more. In my opinion, "wittiest!, would be a better response.
That's the only, yet big, complain I have with the book. I will probably cut it out of my personal edition.
* * *
So long, Darcy, Elizabeth, and thank you for all the common sense:
"Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure."
- Pride and Prejudice - Wikipedia
- EIA - Energy Information Administration. This is where I mined the data for the 2003 Per Capita GDP picture.
- Jonathan Marks. What It Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee: Apes, People, and Their Genes (2003). There is also an essay to be found, by the same author, on the same topic.