Pride and Prejudice Pride and Prejudice discussion


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The ultimate obscene book.

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message 1: by Alan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:55PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Alan Edwards I admired Jane Austen's writing skills. However, I was appalled by the way that she reduces all people other than the landed gentry to mere objects or commodities that have no intrinsic worth.
The idea of one person 'owning ' another is what I regard as the ultimate obscenity.

Jane Austen was only articulating the values of her social grouping of that time, but I am so glad that people like the characters of her books are no longer, and that any with such ambitions nowadays are restrained by hard won civil liberties laws.

Maybe Jane was writing a story that was meant to decry the impact of the French Revolution!

All in all, I found it disgusting, the machinations of a class of indolent moneyed bludgers may have been what upper class young ladies read with delight in the days of its publishing; but today it is notable only as a record of the excesses indulged in by the 'society folk' of that time.

Alan.


message 2: by Chicklet (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:00PM) (new)

Chicklet I'll be honest and tell you I've only read a portion of this book and only recall that is was boring as all get out. That was 7th grade and someone told me I should give it another chance now that I'm an adult. That being said, I'd like to respond to your comments.
Perhaps Jane Austen was just as disgusted with the idea of one person "owning" another. Perhaps as well she was disgusted by the behavior of the upper class and maybe found it ridiculous. This may be why she wrote this book as she did. This is not based on any research of the lady as I have not read into her history or even seen the movie about her...which I do plan to do.
I theorize this in part from other authors writing books to shock their audience into reality. Uncle Tom's Cabin is a good example. That was written to shock people with how bad slavery can be - and it did work to get that message across and I think helped to bring more people to the side of ending slavery. Another example is Gulliver's Travels. That was a very political book set in story form to keep the author from being punished. And my favorite example, Aesop's Fables. Aesop was a wise man to teach through story form....especially when some who he told the stories to could have him killed.
If Jane Austen was not trying to prove some point as I would hope, it is, to paraphrase you, a portrait of the social groupings of her time.


message 3: by Dianna (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:05PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Dianna Hmm... Interesting thought. I had not thought of that. I may have to read one of her books again with that thought in mind and maybe I won't despise her writing so much.


message 4: by Elena (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Elena If I may add my opinion to the discussion, I would say that Alan missed an important element in Austen's writing: her humour!
she was, indeed, a "daugther of her time" and of her social class, if I might say so, and not a revolutionary in any possible sense of the word, but she was also constantly mocking some aspects of the values of that same class, among which the tendency to evaluate anyone based on the amount of money they had. She did this only to a certain degree of course, but I do not think she gave her unconditional approval to all the values of her social class...this is my opinion, of course.
elena


message 5: by Diana (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diana I completely agree with Elena. You cannot read the books of Jane Austen with the expectation of today's views and understandings. You have to view it from the perspective that Jane Austen herself was caught in a tangled web that required her to follow the ridiculous traditions and expectations that she jests about within her writing.

She, in her own way, rebelled against it by writing these books. And as insightful as she was at the ludicrous behavior of the people of the wealthy classes at that time, she still had her short comings...as do we all.


message 6: by Elena (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:18PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Elena I'm glad someone agrees with me.
and yes, we all have our short comings, this is for sure!
Do you like other novels of the same period, Diana?
elena


message 7: by Elena (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:18PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Elena Anyone who likes British novels from the 19th century might enjoy Wilkie Collins' books. Although of a different kind (all of his books I read are "thrillers") and written later than Jane Austen's, they have a brilliant sense of humour and, in my opinion, an excellent ability to portray people's characters.
elena


Dianna Well I don't know what novels you are speaking of without doing some research. I do like Dickens, though he is kind of depressing. Maybe you could name some and then I could tell you if I like them. I really like Russian novelists like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.


Elena Hi I was actually thinking of ONE specific author when I posted that comment, meaning this Wilkie Collins guy I mentioned above. Till a few years ago he was only known in Italy (where I come from) for a number of thriller novels, specifically three, called "The woman in white", "The moonstone" and a third one whose title in English I ignore. I read them all as a teenager (in Italian) and enjoyed them thoroughly. Entertaining, misterious, funny in their own way (which is why Jane Austen made me think of him)and with some unforgettable characters. In particular an Evil Italian count (count Fosco) and an ugly but brilliant woman, one of the best female characters ever (both in Woman in white). I had the chance to re-read "woman in white" and "the moonstone" in English recently and loved them even more, the first for the plot and the characters and the second especially for the sense of humour, which I hadn't completely caught as an adolescent.
By the way, Collins was a close friend of Dickens'. And a rival of his!
elena
ps: I adored Crime and punishment, as a teenager...it seems I read the best literature as a youngster!


message 10: by Chicklet (new)

Chicklet Since Dickens was brought up....
Great Expectations is as boring as all get out despite a very good plot.
I LOVE Oliver Twist. I would have loved it even longer. But if you find Dickens depressing, perhaps this is not one you would enjoy.
While I've never finished A Christmas Carol, I've begun it several times and would recomend that book as the Dickens to read. It's just the right time of year too.


Elena I have to confess my almost complete ignorance about Dickens. I think the only novels I read by him are "A Christmas Carol" and an unfinished one, the one he was writing before he died. There is an interesting experiment on this novel: two Italian writers, Fruttero and Lucentini, have written a "book around the book", called "The truth on the D. case", which is a sort of crime novel in which the most famous detectives of the history of literature investigate on this novel that Dickens was not able to finish. In particular, they try to find out who the murderer is, and if there was a murder in the first place (if I remember it correctly).
I will have to overcome this ignorance and read something more by him, especially considering my mother and sister are big fans of him!
elena
PS. Interesting how the conversation moved from Jane Austen to Wilkie Collins, Dickens, ... who is next?


Shannon Getting back to Austen for a moment...

One of the things that makes Austen so timeless is that her characters and the situations they find themselves in continue to be relevant and familiar today. The language is different, the clothes have changed, the expectations too, perhaps, but these people are not so far removed from our own world as you think.

What I am trying to say is that you're assertion that "people like the characters of her books are no longer, and that any with such ambitions nowadays are restrained by hard won civil liberties laws." is naive wishful thinking. The excesses and indulgences continue, and if you only listen in on the conversations of people around you, you will find they are just as vacuous, vain and single-minded in their pursuits as anything an Austen character could come up with.

Austen, thankfully, had great wit, and put up these characters so that we could laugh and learn from their silliness.


Elena I totally agree with shannon's remarks...by the way, shannon, you seem to be Austen's biggest fan!
When Austen mocks the stupidity of some of her characters, I do see portrayed in them some of the people you meet in daily life...unfortunately.
and her humour is great
elena


message 14: by Skylar (last edited Dec 26, 2007 02:24PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Skylar Burris I find it to be a tedious (but apparently fashionable) complaint that Austen did not explore the lives of the servants, as though that fact somehow negates her satirical skill, her piercing talent, and the timeless nature of her tales. So she satirized her own class instead of another class with whom she was not intimately familiar. What's wrong with that?

Sir Walter Scott said it well: she had “the exquisite touch,” which enabled her to “render ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting, from the truth of the description and the sentiment." By focusing on the everyday foibles and follies of character in the middle-class, Austen was able to create something timeless that can still resound with the massively large middle-class world of today. How dramatically the life of the poor has changed since Austen wrote! But how little in the CHARACTERS of men and women, how little of human virtue and vice, has changed. Jane Austen wasn't concerned with writing some didactic Marxist tale, to be sure. So what? She wrote something witty, cunning, and—most of all—LASTING.

Part of me thinks this complaint is so often leveled at Austen because she was a woman, and a "woman's world"--the everyday, domestic sphere--cannot possibly be as profound a canvas upon which to paint as a "man's world" of war and history and politics and class rivalry--can it?




Shannon Nicely put Skylar! Did you study Austen at all? I never did, and I wish I had.


Elena Very well said, skylar! You're probably right. men's reasoning is so deep, theoretical and abstract, while women -poor them!- are so positive and solid...probably their best quality!
Personally I'm so tired of men's abstractions...
God bless austen's concreteness.
elena


Elena By the way, I notice you wrote a sequel to "Pride and Prejudice", is it correct?
can you give us an idea of the plot?



Shannon men's reasoning is so deep, theoretical and abstract, while women -poor them!- are so positive and solid...

*laughs*

Ah, irony...


Elena Irony! thank god (or the Goddes) we (as a gender)/ I (as a representative of the gender) still have that!
by he way, we should have a tea together...a very female-like thing!
too bad we live in different countries (continents)?
elena


Dianna All I know is that I am theoretical and abstract and I am a woman. Maybe that's why I find it hard to know where I fit in.

I just noticed that earlier in the conversation someone asked a question and it was not directed at me; it was directed at Diana with one 'n'.

I am sorry if it seemed like I was butting in because I answered it.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

SO.......... WHEN DO WE START TALKING ABOUT THE BOOK?



Elena HI dianna,
I agree on the fact that we (the women) CAN be as theretical and abstract as men, if we want to, but we also have the privilege of being able to see the concrete side of things, if we decide to do so... at least, this is my opinion, and this is what I see in daily life. And I believe this is a great quality we have.
elena
Shannon, thank you for inviting me in your friends' list.


Peachy One of the aspects of a good servant in Austin's day was to be as invisible as possible. Perhaps Austin was saying that all the servants in the book were above average --imported from Lake Woebegone?
On the other hand, adding all the characters needed to run the various houses and lives of the characters would have been chaos; something like doing descriptions of the household appliances today. It's sometimes done, but usually adds nothing. Well there was the kitchen in the short story Rocket man by Ray Bradbury.


Kagama-the Literaturevixen Alan wrote: "I admired Jane Austen's writing skills. However, I was appalled by the way that she reduces all people other than the landed gentry to mere objects or commodities that have no intrinsic worth.
The..."


She wrote what she knew...and what most people dont notice is that Pride and Prejudice is really a satire of the society she was part of.


Matilda Rose Jane Austen was simply reflecting the times and typical lives of people in her society. Not always nice, not always pretty, but think about the treatment people recieve now and how we, and probably our literature, will be judged for that in the next 200 years.


message 26: by Teresa (last edited Dec 22, 2011 09:25PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Teresa Edgerton I've read the book numerous times, and I can't remember anyone "owning" anyone else. The Bennetts did have servants, but they were hardly slaves or indentured servants. They could leave any time they wanted, if they thought they could get better jobs. They're hardly seen in Pride and Prejudice because they play no part in the plot ... which is not, altogether, about rich and indulged people. The Bennetts do have a nice house but it's not a large one, and the father is more a gentleman farmer than anything else. When Mr. Bennett dies, his wife and daughters will have practically nothing to live on, because the house, the farm, and small investments are all entailed and will go to a distant cousin. Mrs Bennett is desperate to marry off her daughters not because they are rich and indulged, but because she doesn't want to see them lose everything they have. Young girls in the same situation probably did read the stories with delight, because they so clearly reflected the world they knew, and turned their anxieties into humor.

The characters are a mixture of the rich and well-born, gentry living in reduced circumstances, and an upwardly mobile middle class. As the daughter of a clergyman, Jane Austen knew people living in the second category best, and so she made them her main characters. The Bennetts were the kind of girls who had to refresh or remake their old dresses if they were going to a party. Who had to mend something if it was torn, rather than throw it away. If they wanted to visit a friend who lived two or three miles away they walked. And altogether they had fewer conveniences and fewer luxuries than most of us here.


If you are looking for the ultimate obscene book, a book about the rich, the pampered, and indulged, I am sure you can find something that fits your requirements much better, Alan.


Elisa Santos I don´t see the obscenity here: she depicted what she knew best, what she saw everyday and most of all - made humour with all the oddities that she found that were too much out of reality.

As a clergyman´s daughter, she could be compared to the Bennetts: almost no commodoties, having to mend and change dresses if they had a party or even a go at the mass: remember Lydia and Kitty fighting for the hat that Lydia transformed. They had to look good and still perform most tasks around the house because they didn´t had many servants. And the servants were not mentioned because 1 - they were not part of the plot; 2 - it was their duty to be invisible, to perform their duties almost unoticeable, but they were not chained to the walls: if they could find better positions in other houses, they were free to leave. But most of them were very much attached to the families they served because it was passed-down functions: from father to son, from mother to daughter.


Bjarne Amilon Alan wrote: "I admired Jane Austen's writing skills. However, I was appalled by the way that she reduces all people other than the landed gentry to mere objects or commodities that have no intrinsic worth.
The ..."

I didn't find any "strong" expression of servants = slaves in PP. At the time it was written I think abolitionism was more or less widespread in England. Also, I find you naive in the nth degree writing "I am so glad that people like the characters of her books are no longer" as if the people of means and known in the medias today is not quite another class than we others. If a time machine could transport an ancient greek or roman to our times, they would, after some confusion, wonder at the fact that we did not call slaves the big majority of our fellowmen that sell their work-force for their living.


message 29: by Noe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Noe I agree with Maria and would add, you might as well say Leave it to Beaver is obscene, if you're going to say that about Austen. People live within their own time and society. A hundred years from today what might some one say about how things were viewed? How do you find fault in some one, like Austen just because of the time in which she lived? It makes no sense to categorize or label her as obscene.


Susan Andres In her biography of the Duke of Wellington (THE YEARS OF THE SWORD), Elizabeth Longworth notes that while reading HISTORY OF THE ABOLITION OF THE AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE BY THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT, which was written by "the great apostle of abolition, Thomas Clarkson," Jane Austen declared that "she was in love with the author."


Sweta If you want to take lessons from a work of fiction, there always is and what makes these books classics is that those lessons and characters always are true, no matter, what the era is. Is it wise for couples to marry today without thinking about financial stability? Doesn't parents even today want their children to be well-settled in their lives and think and care about it? Doesn't today's society like to gossip about a business tycoon or a celebrity going out with someone unknown?

You can't take something word to word from a great piece of art or literature and say that it doesn't hold true today. You apply it to today's world and you can see how much similarities still exist between that world and the world we live in.


message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

One of the reasons I love Austen's work is due to how pertinent it is to the present day and life in general really. The world is full of Mr. Wickams, Mr. Collins, and Lady Catherines. (Unfortunately not too many Elizabeths or even better: Emmas.) And honestly a lot of the consequences that are shown in Austen's work for poor choices ring true to this day.

If Austen is obscene, I certainly don't want to know what to label modern day. Whatever the label would be, it must be VERY bad. ;-)


Kressel Housman Elena wrote: "By the way, I notice you wrote a sequel to "Pride and Prejudice", is it correct?
can you give us an idea of the plot?"


Skylar's book is about Georgiana's courtship in which she has to choose between an abolitionist clergyman and an officer.


message 34: by Ken (new) - rated it 1 star

Ken Alan wrote: "I admired Jane Austen's writing skills. However, I was appalled by the way that she reduces all people other than the landed gentry to mere objects or commodities that have no intrinsic worth.
The ..."


It's a product of its times. You can't apply modern social values to previous cultural norms and expect things to measure up.

It is a mistake to attempt to compare cultures of the past with the present and say "my, what savages they were!"


Ravenal The Bennet's world consisted of 24 families of folks just like themselves. The dominant cultural institution decreed that each person on earth was ordained into their class and station by the will of God. The OP would better understand Austen's genius with some effort at understanding her audience.


message 36: by kellyjane (last edited Mar 10, 2014 02:21PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

kellyjane It sounds to me like the OP is expressing hatred for the culture and society of Regency England.

The only criticism directed at Jane Austen herself, that I can recognize, is that she virtually ignored the characters and lives of the various servants mentioned in her novels. Which is certainly true; but I am not as ready to find fault with her for this writing choice, as such choices necessarily depend on what purposes they might serve for advancing a particular story.


message 37: by Ken (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ken Doggett I did find the book to be tedious and boring, as if it had been written for a few friends in her local area, but I recently read it all the way through and found a few laughs. In my opinion, criticizing the author for not having today's standards and sensibilities is silly and immature. We don't even know how our own standards and "enlightened" outlook will be viewed in the future, but you can bet that they'll either be laughing or shaking their heads. Maybe both. No one has the right answer or the final answer for how society should conduct itself, and unless you are perfect you should do a self-examination and not be so critical of those from another time for abiding by the standards of their time. It takes courage to step outside of such standards, even in our time, and often writers do it with satire, as satire can illuminate by presenting absurd situations exactly as they are; as something that its participants take seriously without ever stepping back and looking at it critically. Criticize her characters all you want; Austen created them for that purpose.


Susan Andres I think it's also useful to remember that Austen was scrupulous in writing only about what she knew intimately. (That is why, I believe, you'll never find a conversation between men - with no women present - in any Austen novel.)


Ramya Actually, on the contrary, Austen tries to humanize those that are of a lower social standing. Elizabeth and the Bennet family are not, by any means, of a high social status, but they are the ones whose story we follow. Elizabeth, a poor, plain woman of lower social standing, is given a voice and the freedom to choose who she can marry, which is revolutionary. This novel, although presented as a drama/romance, is actually one of self discovery for Elizabeth, and probably opened the eyes of many young readers of that time, and encouraged autonomy and independence in women.
And although I see the theme of ownership throughout the novel, I think that a great deal of that has to do with the unfortunate circumstances of the time which led to concerns such as dowry, and the social standing that would be accomplished through marriage. And I would have to disagree with you--people like this definitely still exist--people who try to own others, in various different contexts.


message 40: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma Criticizing Jane Austen for not writing more about the servants would be like criticizing a modern author for not including the grocery store checker or the pizza delivery guy in the plot of a novel that has nothing to do with either of those people.

As far as it not existing today, real, actual slavery is alive and well all over the world.


Naruto guys,i have heard of charles dickens and i so wanna read his books but the problem is tht i cant understand them much.can someone suggest any book of his which i ought to read??


Naruto and yeahh i think jane austen wrote about the stuff she experienced or knew of ,she didnt use her imagination like charlotte bronte.i prefer jane eyre over jane austen.


message 43: by Ken (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ken Doggett Naruto wrote: "guys,i have heard of charles dickens and i so wanna read his books but the problem is tht i cant understand them much.can someone suggest any book of his which i ought to read??"

I haven't read much Charles Dickens, but I do know that his most famous works were "Oliver Twist" and "A Christmas Carol." Movies have been made of both those stories, so I think that would be a good place to start. Just remember that he wrote in the late 1800s, and writing then compared to now was just a little different from what you might be used to.


message 44: by Ken (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ken Doggett Naruto wrote: "and yeahh i think jane austen wrote about the stuff she experienced or knew of ,she didnt use her imagination like charlotte bronte.i prefer jane eyre over jane austen."

I disagree a little with the idea that Jane Austen didn't use her imagination. It takes quite a lot of imagination to create characters and situations and make them seem real, and she easily accomplished that. My biggest complaint about Pride & Prejudice was that she had TOO MANY characters.


message 45: by Ken (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ken Doggett Ramya wrote: "people like this definitely still exist--people who try to own others, in various different contexts..."

Yeh, I know quite a few. They don't own in terms of slavery, but for enforced loyalty and friendship, insisting under no uncertain terms that others listen to and heed the advice they hand out.


Kressel Housman Naruto wrote: "guys,i have heard of charles dickens and i so wanna read his books but the problem is tht i cant understand them much.can someone suggest any book of his which i ought to read??"

I suggest Great Expectations, but get a copy with footnotes to explain the anachronistic terms.


Marion Stein Austen is often ironic in her putdowns of the expectations of her society. But she is also DEEPLY conservative in her opinions. In Mansfeld Park, Fanny knows trouble is up as soon as her cousins decide to put on a little play. She's right of course. The West Indies is often a source of wealth -- on whose backs that wealth is made, is never discussed. We can enjoy excursions into Jane's world via her stories, but let's make no mistake -- it wasn't fair, it wasn't equitable and it wasn't a good place to live unless you had both money and "class." Marrying well was extremely important when it came to happiness. Romantic love was NOT a sensible way to choose a husband and could lead to lifelong disaster.


Vanessa  Eden Patton I always chalked the social and sexual injustices to be of the time period it was written. After all, don't all books discuss social \sexual injustice? Look at I know why the caged bird sings.


Kressel Housman Marion wrote: "Romantic love was NOT a sensible way to choose a husband and could lead to lifelong disaster."

I think there's a line in Nicholas Nickleby that his parents, who weren't rich, didn't expect to marry for money, so were able, therefore, to marry for love.


Naruto Ken wrote: "Naruto wrote: "and yeahh i think jane austen wrote about the stuff she experienced or knew of ,she didnt use her imagination like charlotte bronte.i prefer jane eyre over jane austen."

I disagree ..."
dont u think creating characters is essential fer every writer important point is to bring them to life,like mr rochester:P


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