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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 10:02 am 
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vison wrote:
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 understand that meaning vison, but what I was asking is if it's intentionally ambiguous. Are we meant to consider the three different ways of reading that sentence, or has modern english simply become so vague as to allow three interpretations of that line.

Here's what I said...

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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.


Your comment would suggest that only the "in need of a wife" interpretation is correct, which would be disappointing, as the cleverness of the line for me lies in it's ambiguity.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:30 pm 
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There is ambiguity for the modern reader, I'm not sure there was for her contemporaries. I think the joke there lay in stating the obvious.

No, maybe not. Probably not.

But the first and commonest meaning would have been "needed" as she said "IN want", not "wants". When I am "in want" of something, right?

But yes, there is a layer of double or triple meaning that adds to the fun.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 8:18 pm 
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Location: The wastes of Northern Rhudaur . . .
:horse: :banana:

I managed to score THE VERY LAST COPY of Pride and Prejudice at Audreys at lunchtime today, and put on the bravest face I could when it turned out to be a hard cover copy that set me back $26 plus tax.

:shock:

I know, I know, I probably could have found a hard cover copy in the Wee Book Inn for a mere $5 but, *sigh* I was in a hurry . . .

I read the first chapter whilst waiting for the train, hehehe, I had forgotten about Austins dry wit . . .

I'll catch up with the Virgins' opinions when I get home tonight . . .

:D:D:D

Edit:

Okay, I'm a bad, bad Scribbles. I devoured the first 10 chapters between waiting on the train platform at noon after buying the book, and the train/bus going home tonight . . . ;)

I love the questions being framed by the first time readers, right from the first, and definitely classic line. The different descriptions and impressions of how they're feeling "inside" the book are wonderful to see too!

I also have always looked at the first line as Austen's dry wit at its finest . . . meaning of course that a single man with money is an anomaly, that something doesn't add up. In other words, oh my gosh! He needs a wife to spend his money . . . :D:D

As for Darcy . . . well, I won't give it away.

:twisted:

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 12:10 pm 
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Are we ready to move on?

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 1:20 pm 
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Alatar wrote:
Are we ready to move on?


I think that's up to you. :)


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 3:49 pm 
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Now that discussion of the first chapters has subsided a bit, might I ask a content question of the more experienced readers here?

In the third chapter, when they tell Mr Bennet about the ball, Mrs Bennet says:
Quote:
he actually danced with her twice! and she was the only creature in the room that he asked a second time. First of all he asked Miss Lucas. I was so vexed to see him stand up with her! but, however, he did not admire her at all: indeed, nobody can, you know; and he seemed quite struck with Jane as she was going down the dance. So he inquired who she was, and got introduced, and asked her for the two next. Then the two third he danced with Miss King, and the two fourth with Maria Lucas, and the two fifth with Jane again, and the two sixth with Lizzy and the Boulanger."


I don't really understand how this dancing works: do the dances come in pairs and each pair counts as one dance?

(And for the sixth dance he had two partners? Or, rather, a different partner in each of the two dances?)

(Thanks for the links to the e-text, btw - that would have been a lot to type! :) )

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 4:38 pm 
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I am ready to move on, even started reading the other chapters... :)


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 4:42 pm 
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the Pirate's Daughter

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Padme wrote:
I am ready to move on, even started reading the other chapters... :)


Then I believe you can post when you're ready. How about this? Whichever of the "virgins" posts first on the next section can name the chapter through which the discussion should focus. I'll edit the title of the thread to reflect that. The rest of us will post only about those chapters.

Does that work?


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 4:42 pm 
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I recall at least vison and Imp, and maybe Prim saying they had things to say about the first section, so I hope they'll still comment. But yes, I think we can move on to the next 5 (or so) chapters now. I'll read them today.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 4:45 pm 
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Cerin wrote:
I recall at least vison and Imp, and maybe Prim saying they had things to say about the first section, so I hope they'll still comment. But yes, I think we can move on to the next 5 (or so) chapters now. I'll read them today.


Well... vison has already commented, and Impenitent has posted (on TOB, not sure about here) that she needs some time away from the virtual world. In any case, there's no problem talking about earlier chapters - just the ones you haven't read yet. :)


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 8:11 pm 
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truehobbit wrote:
I don't really understand how this dancing works: do the dances come in pairs and each pair counts as one dance?

(And for the sixth dance he had two partners? Or, rather, a different partner in each of the two dances?)

(Thanks for the links to the e-text, btw - that would have been a lot to type! :) )


I've always assumed that a convention had grown up that if you dance with someone, you dance with them for two dances or it might seem as if you couldn't bring yourself to do it. As if getting a new partner after one dance would seem like rudely seeking an escape. But that's a guess.

I used to think it was because the dances were short, but then in another novel she refers to two dances as talking "a half hour."

As for the sixth dance, he danced both with Lizzy, and Mrs. Bennet was about to go on and tell Mr. Bennet his partner for the Boulanger (a named dance). I think that sentence is supposed to end with a dash.

Edit: Please don't hold up the discussion for me. I don't have anything particular to say yet that I haven't said already.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 9:40 pm 
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Ethel, I cross-posted with you. That plan sounds ideal. :)


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 10:54 pm 
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Ah, thanks Prim - sounds like a good guess to me! :D

And I was wondering whether Boulanger was really the last name of a lady or the name of a dance, but as no other dance was named I thought it must be the woman - LOL.

I still think it's odd that two dances counted as one, i.e. that they don't say "the third and fourth dance" but "the two third".

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2005 3:09 am 
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Hobby, there are some good end notes in my 'Penguin Classic' edition of P&P on dancing. Let me share them.

Quote:
4. obliged... to sit down for two dances: The rules governing balls and assemblies were based originally on Beau Nash's 'Rules to be observ'd at Bath', drawn up in 1706 to regulate public gatherings. Partners were changed (if at all - and some assembly rooms insisted on it) after two dances, and same-sex couples were not allowed 'without permission of the Master of the Ceremonies; nor can permission be given while there are an equal number of Ladies and Gentlemen' (Thomas Wilson, A Companion to the Ball Room, 1816, p. 222). Darcy's refusal to dance is therefore particularly unfriendly. Having refused an invitation to dance, it was considered very rude for a woman to accept an offer for the same dance from anyone else.

5. Boulanger: A lively dance imported from France and danced, like most country dances, in a long set of couples. During the nineteenth century it was commonly the fifth and final dance in the quadrille.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2005 3:47 am 
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That's interesting, Ethel! Thanks for posting it. I don't have that edition.

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2005 5:15 am 
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The other thing about dancing is: a girl who danced more than twice with the same man in one evening was regarded as hopelessly "fast", and therefore not quite respectable.

For a man to ask for a second dance (not the second of pair, but a second dance) was a particular mark of interest. (He might ASK for a third dance, but he wouldn't expect to get it, and the chaperones would frown. A real gentleman wouldn't ask. ) So when Mr. Bingley danced twice with Jane Bennett, he really was displaying a strong interest in her.

Even engaged couples were not really supposed to dance more than twice. And public displays of affection between engaged people, or newly married people, were just "not done".

I don't recall that The Waltz turns up anywhere in Austen's works, likely it was still too new and too "fast" for her circles. But it was really a scandalous dance at first since it involved the man actually embracing the woman and steering her about the room, as opposed to the "set" dances people were used to. And waltzing was really strenuous, the music was played quite fast and each dance lasted a long time.

Yes, Darcy's refusal to dance with Elizabeth was a quite serious slight, a really rude gesture.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2005 7:40 am 
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vison wrote:
I don't recall that The Waltz turns up anywhere in Austen's works, likely it was still too new and too "fast" for her circles. But it was really a scandalous dance at first since it involved the man actually embracing the woman and steering her about the room, as opposed to the "set" dances people were used to. And waltzing was really strenuous, the music was played quite fast and each dance lasted a long time.


Lady Glencora Palliser's fatal waltz with Burgo Fitzgerald. . . . :love:

But that's Trollope.

Here's a link I found for Regency dances: http://www.britainexpress.com/History/r ... dances.htm

After some Googling I can say the waltz was in England by 1800, but was not danced at Court (=social acceptance) until 1816, after the time of Pride and Prejudice.

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2005 5:14 pm 
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Primula_Baggins wrote:
vison wrote:
I don't recall that The Waltz turns up anywhere in Austen's works, likely it was still too new and too "fast" for her circles. But it was really a scandalous dance at first since it involved the man actually embracing the woman and steering her about the room, as opposed to the "set" dances people were used to. And waltzing was really strenuous, the music was played quite fast and each dance lasted a long time.


Lady Glencora Palliser's fatal waltz with Burgo Fitzgerald. . . . :love:

But that's Trollope.

Here's a link I found for Regency dances: http://www.britainexpress.com/History/r ... dances.htm

After some Googling I can say the waltz was in England by 1800, but was not danced at Court (=social acceptance) until 1816, after the time of Pride and Prejudice.


Yes, Prim. That's what I figured! Thanks for the google.

Ah, Lady Glencora. One of the grande dames of fiction, and one of my absolute favourites. How wonderful Trollope's women are.

But that's another story, as you say.

There is so much in Austen's writing that reveals how much her characters were like us. But there are little mysteries that puzzle the modern reader, perhaps. So the more we know of her era, the more we know about convention and custom the more we can see how brilliant she was, how clearly she saw, what skill she had in drawing her world.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2005 4:57 pm 
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Hum, I am done reading chapters 5-8.

Things I have learned, drinking a bottle of wine a day is not a good idea.

Chapter 8 is something. I am feeling a bit sorry for Elizabeth staying there taking care of Jane and the cattiness of the other women. Like walking three miles is a bad thing.

And what’s up with Mr. Bennet and his distaste with his own kids...

I loved the whole planning of sending Elizabeth to help her sister. And the way the younger sisters are described as basically empty headed.

I am finding this book rather humorous.

BTW what’s a skreen? Is it the same as a screen?


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:06 pm 
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Padme wrote:
Things I have learned, drinking a bottle of wine a day is not a good idea.


Especially since the "wine" in question was port or madeira or sherry—fortified stuff, about 20% alcohol, so drinking a whole bottle was like polishing off half a bottle of liquor a day. "Regular" wine from France or Spain was embargoed because of the Napoleonic wars and had been for so long that people disdained it when it was offered ("watery claret").

That was a really hard-drinking era, for men of the upper classes anyway.

And a "skreen" is a screen. Some editions preserve more of Austen's spelling than others.

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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