literature meme — eight quotes [1/8]
“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense.” (Elizabeth Bennet)
— Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, chapter 24
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen … Is My Thing
Post by this-new-romantic-way (or, the-library-and-step-on-it).
When I was fifteen years old, I went to the cinema with my mother, and as we waited in line for our tickets, my mother pointed to a movie poster and said: “Have you ever read that book? You should. It was one of my favourites when I was young, and I think you’ll really like it.” It was the poster for the 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Since my mother had previously blown my mind by buying me my first Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings books, I picked up a copy the very next day.
I had always been a bookworm, but this was unlike anything I had ever read before. As someone who had always avoided anything written before 1990, it was a true eye-opener. “Old” books can be hilarious! I can relate to a character written over 150 years ago! Pride and Prejudice isn’t a flowery, old-fashioned romance at all, but a book full of crackling wit, razorsharp social commentary, and a love story full of sexual tension even though the characters barely touch each other throughout the novel. Who knew?
My fifteen-year old self was entranced, and after devouring Austen’s other books, I moved on to the Brontës (again, as recommended to me by my mother). Since then, I have developed a great passion for nineteenth-century literature, ranging from George Eliot to Victor Hugo to Charles Dickens. It is a period that still fascinates me, almost ten years and many, many novels later. And see those books and DVDs in the background of the pictures? I have a special shelf in my bookcase dedicated to all things Austen.
This experience has taught me to keep an open mind and not to be afraid to pick up a book that is outside of my comfort zone. I guess you could say that I was prejudiced and Austen showed me the error of my ways.
Read more … Is My Thing posts here.
Want to contribute a post? Send me an ask!
asked: "I'm not sure if I have one particular book, but I do know that my first proper essay where I could discuss whatever I wanted was about King Lear (favouritest dearest Shakey) and how "women in power" were treated ambiguously - and this essay contained so many subjects that I still think are super interesting (feminism, ambiguity, power structure in general) that it feels representative even if it doesn't seem that great an essay anymore two years later. What's your Thing?"
My Shakespeare Thing is Hamlet. As much as I love Much Ado About Nothing (and I do, I really really do), Hamlet is everything. It was the first Shakespeare play I ever saw and read, and it crashed into my life, obliterating every preconception I had about Shakespeare being stuffy and the Renaissance being a bit boring. I’m almost afraid to write anything on it, because how on earth do I do Hamlet justice.
More generally speaking, Jane Austen was the first spark. I had always read a lot growing up, but when I first picked up Pride and Prejudice at the age of fifteen, everything changed somehow.
(Both horribly clichéd answers, but there you go.)
"Fever flickered in and out. I lived on my theme of the war, and it was like being transported out of oneself. The doctors tried to keep the work away from my bedside, but I defied them. They kept on saying, ‘Don’t work, don’t worry’; to such an extent that I decided to read a novel. I had long ago read Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, and now I thought I would have Pride and Prejudice. Sarah read it to me beautifully from the foot of the bed. I had always thought that it would be better than its rival. What calm lives they had, those people! No worries about the French Revolution, or the crashing struggle of the Napoleonic wars. Only manners controlling natural passion so far as they could, together with cultured explanations of any mischances."
— Winston Churchill, recalling a 1943 spell of pneumonia in his memoir.
"[It is] an odd, cross-word puzzle job. One tries to do one’s best for Jane Austen; but actually the very fact of transforming the book into a picture must necessarily alter its whole quality in a profound way. […] The insistence upon the story as opposed to the diffuse irony which the story is designed to contain, is a major falsification of Miss Austen."
— Aldous Huxley on his work on the script for MGM’s 1940 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, in a letter to Eugene Saxton (November 1939).
"I haven’t any right to criticise books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticise Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Everytime I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone."
— Mark Twain in a letter to Joseph Twitchell (13 September 1898).
"Why do you like Miss Austen so very much? I am puzzled on that point. What induced you to say that you would have rather written ‘Pride and Prejudice’, or ‘Tom Jones’ than any of the Waverley novels?
I had not seen ‘Pride and Prejudice’ till I read that sentence of yours, and then I got the book. And what did I find? An accurate, daguerreotyped portrait of a commonplace face; a carefully-fenced, highly-cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers; but no glance of a bright, vivid physiognomy, no open country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no bonny beck. I should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen, in their elegant but confined houses."
— Charlotte Brontë in a letter to the critic G.H. Lewes.
"Read again and for the third time at least Miss Austen’s very finely written novel of Pride and Prejudice. That young lady had a talent for describing the involvement and feelings and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The Big Bow-wow strain I can do myself like any now going, but the exquisite touch which renders commonplace things and characters interesting from the truth of that description and the sentiment is denied to me. What a pity such a gifted creature died so early!"
— Walter Scott in a 1826 diary entry.
"At a watercolour exhibition in London in May , [Jane Austen] picked out the portrait she imagined was of Jane Bennet, ‘now’ Mrs Bingley. She looked for a corresponding portrait of ‘Mrs Darcy’, but wrote to Cassandra that she was not surprised at its absence: ‘I can only imagine that Mr D. prizes any Picture of her too much to like it should be exposed to the public eye - I can imagine he wd have that sort [of] feeling - that mixture of Love, Pride & Delicacy.’"
— Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered The World, Claire Harman.