Currently listening to a book on tape of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, encapsulator of Victorian England, its middle class, and the plight of young, bored women looking to get married.

Reading, or rather, listening to this book, I'm reminded why the Romantic Movement of Coleridge, Wordsworth, Byron, and Keats was so big: It was vital and alive. The rest of England is dead. These women--LITERALLY!--have nothing to do but sit and plot their marriages. Their families are rich enough to spare them hard labor, so there they are, twittering about to no good use.

The prose is treacly and verbose. Like Dickens's serial novels, Austen's plot is static, woven with words and dialogue but not real events. By Chapter 8, we've made it through one dancing party. It's said that Austen read aloud her manuscripts to ensure that the words flowed well, and even if that's apocryphal, I can believe it. Indeed, Austen shows us deft, econonomical passages every so often, such that I can believe the whole novel is a grand joke, satirizing how overblown Victorian diction was.

Anyway, there are two satisfying characters emererging: Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are both iconoclasts and headstrong. If they weren't in the book, I'd have taken the CD's back to the library already.


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