Pride and Prejudice
Excerpt from Pride and Prejudice: A Novel The most conspicuous qualities of Pride and Prejudice are its infectious, high-spirited gaiety and a certain emotional hardness towards characters themselves sharply outlined without the more sympathetic subtlety which is conspicuous in almost all Miss Austen's work. These are emphatically the qualities of youth; and though Northanger Abbey is certainly nearest in form and subject-matter to the burlesques of her girlhood, Pride and Prejudice seems to have been written in the very spirit of youth not so entirely dominating any other novel. In certain obvious, though comparatively superficial, characteristics Elizabeth Bennet is Jane Austen herself The independent judgment, the alert observation, the readiness to laugh at herself and everything save 'what is wise and good, ' and her loving admiration for the incurable sentimentalities of her more sweet-tempered elder sister may be regarded as the author's apologia, for work that 'is rather too light and bright and sparkling, ' for 'the playfulness and epigrammaticism of the general style.' I suspect, moreover, that Miss Austen was quite as likely as Miss Bennet to have been taken in by the engaging softness of George Wickham, his agreeable 'person, countenance, air, and walk, ' his 'happy readiness of conversation.' She, too, would almost certainly have been prejudiced against Darcy's complacent arrogance, and confirmed in her dislike by the slight carelessly inflicted upon herself. So far, however, we find only what is common to all the novels: qualities in the novelist which she retained through life. It is the unrestrained absurdities of Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins, the lack of any softening humanity in them or in others towards them, and a similar inhumanity provoked by quite other failings, towards Lydia, which are peculiar to Pride and Prejudice. Some have claimed for Collins the poet's vision, and it is true that he is wholly engrossed in the contemplation of nobility without the least regard for the realities of life. He is one of the happiest of human beings, because entirely unaware that any concerns, any point of view, save his own actually exist. Jane Austen, however, thought no more of him than as a peg on which to pile one preposterous pomposity after another, exposing the poor creature to our merciless contempt, granting him no scrap of common decency or feeling for which to call him kin. About the Publisher Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at www.forgottenbooks.com This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.