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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 2:54 am 
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My impression from Alatar was not that he didn't want people to provide answers to things he was unsure of, but that he wasn't about to go re-reading chapters to find out the answers himself.

Um - isn't that the same thing? :scratch:

Or maybe it's just me being too much of a teacher - if someone doesn't want to bother finding the answer for themselves, I'm not going to provide it for them! :P

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 3:10 am 
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That's okay, hobby. It sounds like Ethel doesn't mind. :D

I've PM'd Padme and explained how we're proceeding, and asked if she wants those who've already read the book to hold off commenting until she posts.

Edit

I received a reply from Padme -- she would like to post her reactions, and she is planning to get the book and start reading tomorrow. :)


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 6:08 am 
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Oh fluffenstuff and bother, the bookstore didn't HAVE P&P!!! In fact, they had NO Jane Austen! What's up with THAT?!

I guess I'll just have to make the run to Audrey's (my absolute :love: fave bookstore) tomorrow on the way back from lunch . . .

I'll catch up, don't worry!

:D:D

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 6:14 am 
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Scribbles, at a pinch you could read the first few chapters online here:

http://www.pemberley.com/etext/PandP/index.html

Not as satisfying as a 'real' book in hand, but you can do the first four chapters without having to rush to a bookstore in the middle of the night. ;)


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 9:27 am 
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I'm loving the comments from Alatar and Cerin and can most certainly empathise with Imp on the tongue-biting front! I was itching to respond to Cerin with my excited babble.

I had to grab a new novel to read this morning and, instead of P&P picked Northanger Abbey up off the bookshelf - not from any desire to be perverse - I haven't read it since I was 14 and know P&P well enough to comment, I think and hope!

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 3:07 pm 
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Oh Impy THANKS! I was going to try googling for an online text site last night but came home from work just too exhausted for words . . .

Hmmm, Northanger Abbey, another memory that lurks in the far, dusty corners of my youth, must give that one another go in the near future too. ;)

So many books :love: ; so little time! :cry:

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 4:27 pm 
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Ok the first line....I was very mucy amused by.

The first two chapters, seemed very fast. I felt like I was placed right in the room in the middle fo a conversation. Mr. Bennet seems to be very much a 'yes dear' type of husband. I can see him sitting there (if it was set in modern day) reading the paper over the breakfast table as Mrs. Bennet flits here and there worried about her daughters being married.

Mrs. Bennet, well um visions of a mix of Fran Dreschers mother from The Nanny and The Matchmaker comes into mind. I see this woman, so worried about the impression that her daughters are going to make on poor Mr. Bingley.

And then the favorite child discussion. My kids and I have had that discussion before...I really don't have a favorite.

Mr. Bingley, well he is the wealthy young man. I am not sure he is looking for a wife, but he is, unlike Darcy, impressed by the beauty of the women of area. He seems to be doing all that he is supposed to do at this point. He has money, he is now looking for a house and foundation to begin his life. Just exactly what he is supposed to be doing, and he brings his sisters with him :shock: Holy Moly this man is brave to have all these women who are trying to manipulate him.

I love the manipulation. Plus its so true to life the comment Mrs. Bennet says about Mrs. Long 'I do not believe Mrs. Long will do any such thing. She has two nieces of her own. She is a selfish, hypocritical woman, and I have no opinion of her.'' I have heard this sort of thing before in real life, I laughed when I read it. Of course I laughed at the first chapter and the cynicism of both Bennets.

As for Darcy. Total jerk thus far. I have a feeling that is not the way he is. I know enough about the story to know otherwise, even though I have never read it. But he seems to be the concieded jock type, too good for anyone but the head cheerleader.

The girls, well I think Lizzie is the second born after Jane, maybe. I am confused as to the birth rank. But I believe that Mary and Kat are the middle youngest with Lydia the youngest. And that Jane being the oldest and being asked by Bingley to dance twice was a very good thing to Mrs. Bennet.

I also loved that Lizzie eavesdropped on the Darcy/Bingley conversation, or it seemed to me she did.

Its a very fast read. Which is good.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 5:10 pm 
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Wow, it's so great that you all had positive responses, at least so far! :)

Padme wrote:
I have heard this sort of thing before in real life,

YES! I loved that statement, Padme!
And isn't that the coolest thing about these "old" books, that, to someone who hasn't read them, might be seen to belong to a society that doesn't exist anymore? They don't, they belong to our society just as well.
They are about real people, who are the same all through the ages and nations, and about their little frailties and silliness, and Austen depicts them truthfully, but lovingly. :)

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:01 am 
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Hmmmh - well, I know I'm brilliant and all that, but, come on guys, the above can't have been the last word on Austen, can it? :scratch:

Shouldn't we be open for discussion now that the three first time readers have posted?

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:25 am 
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I am most seriously displeased with you ladies and gentlemen for enticing me into this. I opened the book late last night with the mild intention of going through the first two chapters, and was utterly lost. It was about 3AM before I got to bed, and DH got up at 6:30. :help:

Truly, no rest for the wicked. A great book, though. :D


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:34 am 
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I get to respond now, right? I'll start with Alatar.


Alatar wrote:
I admit I am very surprised at the writing style. I expected something like George Elliot in style but it's more like Wilde's "Importance of Being Earnest". I did not expect the amount of conversation. The first two chapters contain practically no descriptive narrative aside from what is gleaned from the conversations. The first real section of descriptive narrative is in the third chapter. In the fourth we begin with yet another conversation followed by a "wrap up" of sorts.


Yes! Much of the story is told in dialog, and quite witty dialog at that. Austen is a strikingly 'modern' writer, don't you think?

Alatar wrote:
Of course, the scene is well set as far as character is concerned, but as a novice I have no idea of the Bennets social status.


Well, I hope it won't annoy Hobby, but... I think it's accurate to picture the Bennets as clinging by their fingernails to just about the lowest rung of the landed gentry ladder.

Alatar wrote:
What is obvious almost immediately is Austens ability to write sardonic wit very well. I find myself very much identifying with Mr. Bennet and smiling along with his teasing and deliberate obtuseness. It's hard to imagine how or why he ended up married to an apparently social climbing harridan like his wife, although there is a sense of genuine affection there.


I think she was pretty. :)


Alatar wrote:
I wonder a little at the first line. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." I'm not sure if this is meant to be ambiguous or if that's merely a modern reading. I mean by this that it could mean he needs a wife, that he wants a wife or simply that he does not have a wife. Is this a clever play on words or simply a result of less precise modern language? I have no idea. I like the idea that it's intended to be ambiguous. That any man who does not have a wife, must therefore want and need one. If so, it's very clever and plants the notion firmly in our minds.


I believe the first line is by way of a topic sentence for the novel. Without question, it is ironic. This is a comedy. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:46 am 
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I love how the first line sets the tone for the major themes in the book - money and marriage. And Alatar's right that it feels Wildean. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:55 am 
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Ethel wrote:
Austen is a strikingly 'modern' writer, don't you think?

I wondered about that. I was trying to compare this to the current novels I read, and it seems Austen is different in two ways that stand out to me. The first is the lack of descriptive text, of environs and specifics about characters. The second is that aspect I believe Alatar pointed out, of rather pointedly stating character traits and how the reader is meant to view the character, rather than letting the reader discover that status through the plot and dialogue.

Yes, hobby, I believe now all the 'itchy' fingers may let loose!


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 4:04 am 
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That's one of the things I love about Austen, that her writing is so clean. You always feel like you've got room to breathe and everyone might as well be modern people. Lizzie, especially, really could easily be someone you'd hang out with today, and she'd be telling you the story about Mr. Darcy being a jerk.

And yeah, that first line is classic irony.

-m

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 4:12 am 
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I think Austen didn't describe anything because her settings were completely contemporary and familiar to her readers. The clothes, the furniture, the carriages were all well known to educated people of her class.

Thus I had trouble reading Austen until I saw a BBC dramatization of P&P in 1983 or so. That instantly gave me the mental imagery I needed to carry me through all six novels.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 4:21 am 
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Frelga - :rofl:

Ethel, I'm not annoyed, like I said, I don't mind any answers given, Alatar was the one who didn't want any answers! :)

I loved what Cerin said about the Bennets' marriage and Padme about Darcy. Yes, he does seem a horrible person in that introductory scene there, doesn't he? And it's also interesting, I think, how the whole society is said to have decided he isn't worth knowing inspite of his money!

As to the Bennet family, from seeing the movie versions (my first was the BBC mini-series from the 80s! I read the book as a result of watching that!) I had an image of a somewhat amusing relationship in which both partners get on each others nerves but both tolerate that.
However, having read those first chapters again, I agree with Cerin that Mr Bennet's behaviour in many places was downright cruel.
I wonder whether the image will improve in the following chapters.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 4:44 am 
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Cerin wrote:
It's amazing how quickly she has established an intimacy with the characters for the reader. I feel as if I've been a part of that circle and have been chatting with these people all my life.


Yes! One realizes immediately - I am in the hands of a very skilled storyteller. Away we go!

Cerin wrote:
I realized I was surprised at the lack of descriptive text. I suppose I expected rapturous passages describing the beautiful English countryside (don't know why), but there hasn't been a single thing described, not even the characters (except for vague terms like handsome). It is entirely interior, and almost all dialogue! (Perhaps Ms. Austen wasn't paid by the word, as I've heard say Mr. Dickens was).


Perhaps you were thinking of the Victorians. But really, I cannot think of another writer of Austen's era who moves as quickly at storytelling.

Cerin wrote:
Mr. Bennet seems disdainful of his wife, and she is too dull to even know when he is insulting her. I was thinking that a marriage like this in our day and age would have ended in divorce; but my understanding of those times was that people's circles were limited, and I suppose if you met someone you could halfway tolerate the practical exigencies compelled people to marry. How awful to have to be married to someone you didn't respect, though.


Yes. But it's hardly an uncommon fate, is it? In those days respectable people did not divorce. They found ways to cope. He enjoyed his library, his comfortable home, and his witty second daughter. He made do.

Cerin wrote:
I must say, I really felt for Mary here:

Chapter Two wrote:
'What say you, Mary? for you are a young lady of deep reflection, I know, and read great books, and make extracts.'

Mary wished to say something very sensible, but knew not how.

'While Mary is adjusting her ideas,' he continued, 'let us return to Mr. Bingley.'


I sort of feel like that here, among people of such exceptional wit and intelligence! I think Whistler would certainly give Mr. Bennett a run for his money in the humour department. Though Mr. Bennett does have an edge of cruelty about him that I do not find attractive.


Yes, this is cruel, and we are meant to understand it as such. Mr Bennet does not suffer fools gladly, and he pretty much considers his entire family (with the exception of Elizabeth) to be fools. Probably not very comfortable for them.

Cerin wrote:
I thought it was really interesting and revealing that Elizabeth was able to enjoy telling people how Darcy rejected her. I think a less secure person would blush in embarrassment to recall such an incident, much less enjoy relating the story to others, so I found that very telling indeed. She is clearly a very self-confident person (in part because her father favored her, I wonder?).


Her self-confidence, her poise and balance, are indeed remarkable. I think it's quite likely the result of her father's attention. (I actually think something similar was true of Jane Austen.) Elizabeth is genuinely offended, but she is also able to see the humor in the situation. How can one not enjoy the company of such a creature? :)


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 5:12 am 
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The famous opening line is about the best thing going in English literature. If you "get" that, you "get" Pride and Prejudice, and you "get" Jane Austen.

When she says "in want of a wife", the word "want" had the meaning of "stands in need of" rather than the sense of "desiring to have a wife".

I don't agree, Ethel, that the Bennetts were clinging to the lowest rung of the landed gentry. They evidently had a pretty good income. I recall Mrs. Bennett pointing out to someone or other that she had a man cook, and she had a housekeeper, as well as the requisite maids and men. There is no sense of "scrimping and saving", the girls all seem to have plenty of clothes and toys, and were provided with whatever masters they wished to learn music or drawing, etc. There is never any sense, either, that there were any "grander" families in the neighbourhood, never any idea that anyone living near them looked down on them. They were "society" in their little village and surrounding countryside. They were not aristocracy, of course, nor were they great untitled grandees. But gentry, just the same.

It was the tragedy of their lives that Mrs. Bennett had not produced a son. A son would could inherit the estate, but without the son, after Mr. Bennetts's death the estate will go to the next heir "in tail". The word "entail" means simply that primogeniture rules here, the estate, which was probably entirely in land and the rents it produced, had to go to the next male heir in the family line. Mr. Bennett may have inherited it from his father, we are never told that I recall. The issues surrounding primogeniture and entails are absolutey fascinating and worthy of study all on their own!!!

Mr. Bennett mightily blamed himself for not saving enough of his income to provide for his daughters, but of course as time went on and they kept expecting that boy, they didn't form habits of thrift.

I confess I'm going on memory here! I haven't yet scooted through the beloved pages again. I'm going to do that right away. I feel terrible, everyone else has been a good student and done the required reading. I always COULD B.S. my way through these things.............:D

There WAS no other 'career' for a gentlewoman than marriage. The only alternative, if you had no money, was to hang on the sleeve of a better off relative or to go out as a governess. Either option meant little more than low-paid servitude, in most cases.

People were much more open and frank about marriage than we are. Many, many people were married after only days of aquaintance, and of course, many marriages were more or less arranged.

Elizabeth was a marvellous girl, an amazing character. She had sense enough to see that her mother was a fool and sensibility enough to feel rotten about her father's casual contempt for her mother. He was a classic case of "marry in haste and repent at leisure" and I think he should have done a better job of hiding his disappointment and disillusionment, but then, he would not have been such an interesting character.

Enough for now. Hope I haven't given away any spoilers.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 5:33 am 
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vison wrote:
I don't agree, Ethel, that the Bennetts were clinging to the lowest rung of the landed gentry. They evidently had a pretty good income. I recall Mrs. Bennett pointing out to someone or other that she had a man cook, and she had a housekeeper, as well as the requisite maids and men. There is no sense of "scrimping and saving", the girls all seem to have plenty of clothes and toys, and were provided with whatever masters they wished to learn music or drawing, etc. There is never any sense, either, that there were any "grander" families in the neighbourhood, never any idea that anyone living near them looked down on them. They were "society" in their little village and surrounding countryside. They were not aristocracy, of course, nor were they great untitled grandees. But gentry, just the same.


Well, I must respectfully disagree. But this gets ahead of the story, so I must make a date to argue with you later. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 6:07 am 
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Ethel wrote:
vison wrote:
I don't agree, Ethel, that the Bennetts were clinging to the lowest rung of the landed gentry. They evidently had a pretty good income. I recall Mrs. Bennett pointing out to someone or other that she had a man cook, and she had a housekeeper, as well as the requisite maids and men. There is no sense of "scrimping and saving", the girls all seem to have plenty of clothes and toys, and were provided with whatever masters they wished to learn music or drawing, etc. There is never any sense, either, that there were any "grander" families in the neighbourhood, never any idea that anyone living near them looked down on them. They were "society" in their little village and surrounding countryside. They were not aristocracy, of course, nor were they great untitled grandees. But gentry, just the same.


Well, I must respectfully disagree. But this gets ahead of the story, so I must make a date to argue with you later. :)


Oh, good. Something other than a P/R fight!

You're probably right, anyway. :D

Immediately after posting the above, I went to fetch my P & P from the shelf and IT IS NOT THERE. Je suis devasted! Where on earth could the wretched thing be? All the others are there: Persuasion and Northanger Abbey and Emma and S & S, and the fragments, and Mansfield Park, but not P & P!!!!!!


Gaaccccccccckkkkkkkkkk. I am going to have a conniption fit any time now............. :shock:

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