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Pride and Prejudice (Modern Library)


Pride and Prejudice (Modern Library) Cover

ISBN13: 9780679601685
ISBN10: 0679601686
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. Pride and Prejudice was originally titled First Impressions. Critic Brian Southam notes that this phrase comes from the language of the sentimental novels Austen often criticized, where it connoted the idea that one ought to trust one's immediate, intuitive response to things. It is widely believed that Austen derived the later title from the fifth book of Cecilia, a novel by Fanny Burney, where the phrase appears (according to Austen biographer Park Honan, however, the phrase dates earlier, to a 1647 book by Jeremy Taylor called Liberty of Prophesying, and also appears in Gibbon's 1776 Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire). Anna Quindlen, in her Introduction to the Modern Library edition, indicates her preference for the second title ("Austen originally named the book First Impressions; thank God for second thoughts!"). Which do you think is the more appropriate title and why?

2. The famous opening line of Pride and Prejudice-"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife "-magnificently displays the irony that suffuses the novel at both local and structural levels. What is the purpose of irony in Pride and Prejudice!?

3. Austen was writing during a time when novels in the form of letters - called epistolary novels-were very popular. There are nearly two dozen letters quoted in whole or in part in Pride and Prejudice, and numerous other references to letters and letter - writing. How do you think letters function in the novel? How do the letters - a narrative element-interact with the dramatic element (manifested in the dialogue)?

4. A number of critics have maintained that Darcy is not a particularly well - developed or believable character, and that his transformation is a mere plot contrivance. Others have argued that this suggestion fails to take into account the fact that the reader in large part only sees Darcy through the prejudiced eyes of Elizabeth. Which side would you take in this debate, and why?

5. Pride and Prejudice has often been criticized for the fact that it appears unconcerned with the politics of Austen's day. For example, in a letter (written before World War 1) to Thomas Hardy, Frederic Harrison refers to Austen as a "heartless little cynic" who composed "satirettes against her neighbors whilst the Dynasts were tearing the world to pieces and consigning millions to their graves." Is this charge fair?

6. Charlotte Bronte wrote in an 1848 letter to G. H. Lewes: 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. Do you agree with Bronte's claim that there is no poetry or passion in Pride and Prejudice, and her conclusion that "Miss Austen being ... without sentiment, without poetry, maybe is sensible, real (more real than true), but she cannot be great"?

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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emmejo, November 8, 2009 (view all comments by emmejo)
Elizabeth Bennet is a smart and spunky girl in the eighteenth-century. Unlike her mother and younger sisters she does not spend her time trying to find a rich man and get him to fall in love with her; in fact she mocks those who do so and plans to never marry unless she falls in love first. When Mr. Bingley, a wealthy young man, move into a house not far away her mother is determined to get one of her daughters married to him or his even richer friend, Mr. Darcy. Jane Bennet soon catches Bingley's eye but Darcy seems to have a great deal of distain for the entire town, except possibly Elizabeth.

I had tried to read this book when I was about 12 and found it quite over my head. I recently decided to give it another go and am very glad that I did! The characters are wonderful as is the plot. I enjoyed the writing, it is very elegant and stately, yet has a spirit perfectly suited to our heroine's attitude.

I loved that this edition didn't have notes. I always find those frustrating and think that they make it harder for you to keep your mind in the time period the book is meant to be in.
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Product Details

Quindlen, Anna
Quindlen, Anna
Austen, Jane
Modern Library
New York :
British and irish fiction (fictional works by
Young women
Social classes
Love stories
Domestic fiction
Courtship -- England -- Fiction.
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Modern Library (Hardcover)
Series Volume:
v. 15
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.33x5.69x1.06 in. .92 lbs.

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History and Social Science » Law » General
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