> petek, marec 24, 2006
> komentarjev: 16

Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice

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

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.

On vanity
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.

Komentarji: 16

Blogger Bo:

Pride and Prejudice comes second only after The Lord of the Rings on the Big Read, a 2003 book survey carried out by the BBC. They supposedly found the "Nation's Best-loved Book", and I find some (29) books on that list (of 200) that I've read. The tall vertical image on top right represent my signature, where one orange and 28 black dots indicate books that I've read, and as they appear on the list.

These sort of lists come in different flavours, I know, Doppelganger the great reader for example blogged about one such list, however, I feel the Big Read list to be very comprehensive.
What's your Big Read signature? Perhaps you would care to leave it as a comment, in the form {i, j, k, ...} that idicates the numbers of the read books. I will make images out of them, just as one above, and include the images in my upcoming post about book lists.

I am now thinking I should read a bit more bigread-ish, so as to improve my signature. Ok, let's wait for a year and a half and I will show you an image then!
My present signature in text form: {1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 15, 25, 35, 39, 46, 52, 56, 59, 70, 74, 87, 97, 101, 103, 112, 134, 154, 169, 173, 174, 177, 179, 180}

24/3/06 16:23  
Blogger Vesna:

Ne bom brala, ne bom brala, ne bom brala tega prispevka. Ker želim po zagovoru diplome najprej sama prebrati knjigo, nato si ogledati še film in nato bom prebrala ta zapis.

Ne me silit, da preberem že zdaj. :)

24/3/06 16:52  
Blogger Bo:

Vesna: Daj prečiti knjigo, poglej vse filme, pridi nazaj, kaj povej o vsem, pa izpolni vprašalnik o "Big Read".

Srečno z diplomo!

24/3/06 17:12  
Blogger Bo:

I don't fancy myself that these post of mine are something special. They are not. But I still like to publish them. I do that mainly for: my own pleasure and the pleasure of my blog guiding spirits. I also feel specially thrilled if I resonate with anybody else. Let me know, ok.

So why do I blog? I enjoy frequent looks deep into my mind and soul. Writing seems like a good means to do that.
So, I will be true and confess: that a really good film review is to be found at Roger Ebert's place and not here. It's been awhile since he posted his thoughts on Pride & Prejudice (2005).

24/3/06 19:48  
Blogger Bo:

The GDP World Map in the post reminds me of many things. These uneven global distributions can be found just about in every human endeavor.

For example, apart from highly uneven global distribution of goods - and equally uneven sexual practicing (that some are getting it /big time/ while some are not, is perhaps clear to anyone /possibly more to the latter/, and this has been illustrated by many since, but lately and very notably by Michel Houellebecq in Extension du domaine de la lutte (1994; translated into Slovene by Marko Trobevšek as Razširitev področja boja) -, a great unevenness in the distribution of knowledge is also detected: Some read, write and keep up with the latest of human understanding while some don't and stay behind.

It has also occurred to me that I happen to have:
- the GDP World Map in a better resolution of 1200 x 741 pixels,
- and also as an animation, where its frames represent years from 1980 to 2003.

24/3/06 20:16  
Blogger BeeBee:

I don't think I've ever read P&P for the romance it depicts. Yes, it is romantic, but the style and the wit are far more important to me. And that chapter 56 is probably my favourite. Especially when you've read the book more than once, you get to see more and more of the wit Austen put between the lines.

And yes, I think The English Patient beats P&P in the romance department. I can't really put my finger to it, but when I think EP, my heart almost hurts from all the emotion. I think P&P and I smile.

And I agree about P&P 1995 vs. P&P 2005 bit. While the 2005 is not bad (I loved those gorgeous landscape shots), I would choose the series over it any time.

25/3/06 10:52  
Blogger Nadezhda:

I think with EP the love and emotion is so enduring. PP is playful, for the most part, you can't resist shouting "You go girl!" when Elizabeth doesn't let Darcy insult her or put her in a position where she would be vulnerable.

EP is about enduring love, love that transcends time, space, marriages and endures. Love that leads a man into crossing the desert on his own for a woman he loves; love that leads a man befriend the enemy so he could save a corpse...

And EP is much more lyrical. The sentences melt, the language is an explosion of colour and fragance and...

It is not at all obvious that EP is my favourite book, right? :)

P.S. When a man called a woman dear and lovely in the same sentence (in Austen's time) it was an emotion so powerful as though he made love to her on that field.

Times have changed, Bo. The meaning of the words has deteriourated nowadays. You can say "I love you" to any stranger on the street and it would not mean you feel all that much. And if he didn't say that I would have thought he wanted to marry her only to tame her or. Just because she was the only one who opposed him.

25/3/06 12:20  
Blogger Bo:

Hey BeeBee, hey Nadezhda, thanks for the comments.
I bet you are the most ardent PP and EP lovers in the Slovene blogosphere. I am joining your PP club and I hope doing the same with the EP one. I understand more now what to expect from EP. It must be different from PP, more sort of a tissue romance.

"Heart is an organ of fire," ... library, you open not later than on Monday, right.

PS. If you won't tell me about your Big Read signatures (1st comment), I don't know who will. I would like to put those numbers into pictures!

25/3/06 16:37  
Blogger Bo:

Nadezhda: About that line I keep calling abominable: I understand it similarly to you, and do mind that I've taken the time period into consideration. It's the expression of utmost love Darcy can give to Elizabeth. Yet it doesn't seem to me that the book ever want to tell a classic love story.
It's a love story between two elite individuals who are outsmarting one another in a constructive way, never being cheap. That line feels cheap to me. I would trade it for: "the wittiest!"

25/3/06 16:39  
Blogger Bo:

This is an alarming, yet delightful news:
Nadezhda the great bloggeree posted her thoughts on Pride and Prejudice (mainly about the TV series). That actually happened on November 2005. I think I should pay more attention.
Her insight into characters and difference details deserves a praise, do you agree?

So, Nadezhda, have you then seen the new PP film, as you had planned in the post?

25/3/06 20:14  
Blogger Bo:

Nadezhda the great bloggeree ...

Nadezhda the great rereader, I might add.
Do you remember the idea of Fahrenheit 451, where books are prohibited and are being burnt. Not everybody agrees with that, some still posses the lust for words. They are the book rebels, and isolate themselves in the forests, where they keep repeating the books they've read, so they soon know them by heart. Their sole purpose in life is to remember their books and pass the knowledge to the future rebels. They are named after the books they carry in their hearts, so some rebel may be called Anna Karenina, other Lord of the Rings, while it looks like that Nadezhda is Pride and Prejudice.

25/3/06 20:36  
Blogger Nadezhda:

No, I have not, for I was kept busy by my studies. :) I might see it one day, but several people were quite disappointed with the film, since it leaves many of the events out, so I'm a little sceptic about seeing it.

26/3/06 09:49  
Blogger Bo:

(Comment #13. Oh why do I always have to get the number 13?)

Nadezhda, I don't recommend you missing this one.

If I may quickly summarize:
While it's true that the film covers the book swiftly, that it leaves much dialogue out, often merges some, does scenes in its own way, and so forth, you must also know that you could be potentially missing: a sharp acting, great visual aesthetic and a bit different, yet still very interesting, Mr. Darcy.
One can't really say that the swift coverage is a minus, for the film is a normal flick, not some trilogy of Peter Jackson. Apart from that I don't have any problem with the film.

I don't understand how a true admirer of Jane Austen would miss this one.

26/3/06 12:43  
Anonymous Anonimni:

the costumes in the 1995 series were correct to what they wore at the time the book is set. the bennets were the family that wore them most because they were a quite poor family so the dresses would fit most of the girls. Notice that some of the other, richer, women wore better fitted dresses this is because they were most probably made specifically for them. the dresses worn by the women in the latest movie were completely wrong, it was as though the woman had travelled 20 years into the future. A grave mistake for that costume designer.

5/10/06 21:24  
Blogger Bo:

Anonymous, that was educational, and I also quite nod to you, thank you.

6/10/06 09:22  
Anonymous keira587@yahoo.it:

Dear blogger, I need your help. I read the part referred to the link of 1 of the 6 .avi of Pride & Prejudice bbc. Can you tell me where did you find them coz I'm looking for them for a long time. Sorry for my bad english but I'm not english. I let you my email if you have time to answer. Bye and thanks!! keira587@yahoo.it

29/12/06 19:25  

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