Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austin

In my ignorance, I'd filed Jane Austin with a set including Daniel Defoe, George Eliot and Thomas Hardy. Worse than that - it was Chick Lit. I'd been forced to endure the film of Bridget Jones, so I know what that's like.

Fortunately, Russ Allbery's book reviewing corrected my understanding. I downloaded Google's ebookification, and away I went. Before starting on the main review, I should point out that Google's book scanning and OCR thing is... a little disappointing. I understand that creating a near-canonical text is somewhat challenging, and that they want to automate as much as possible, but the OCR mistakes are pretty grim. Surely they could scan several different editions and automatically merge the texts? Any ambiguity could be highlighted, and fixed by end-users, wiki-style. Maybe they do all this already, but I certainly couldn't find such a version.

Anyway, back from the edition to the novel itself. I suppose in some sense it is a book about people falling in love, but that's just massively missing the point. The book is very funny, mostly in its sarcastic, or at least very snarky tone. The characters all have their weaknesses, which are never underplayed, but are at least believable, and unlike flawed characters in modern novels, there aren't any you want to pick up and shake and say 'Stop being stupid!' to.

I always find it odd reading novels which were originally contemporary which have since become historical. Sherlock Holmes being high-tech action-packed crime drama of its day was an example I particularly enjoyed. So again with this. In some ways, it's timeless. In others, it's a fantastic historical document, describing the situation from the inside, without reference to another timeframe. However, sometimes the fact that it assumes its own time means that some period details and assumptions are a little obscure. Still, not much you can do about that.

Stepping back, it really is a very fun little novel. Neato.

Posted 2010-04-18.