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Book 24

  1. Pohl, Frederik — Gateway (278 pages)
  2. Clement, Hal — Mission of Gravity (193 pages)
  3. Benford, Gregory — Timescape (499 pages)
  4. O'Hare, Mick (editor) — Why Don't Penguins Feet Freeze? and 114 Other Questions (232 pages)
  5. Dos Passos, John — Number One (218 pages)
  6. Heller, Joseph — Catch-22 (457 pages)
  7. St. John of the Cross — Dark Night of the Soul (119 pages)
  8. Day, Dorothy — The Long Loneliness (286 pages)
  9. Allen, Ted, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, and Jai Rodriguez — Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: The Fab 5's Guide to Looking Better, Cooking Better, Dressing Better, Behaving Better, and Living Better (250 pages)
  10. Whittemore, Carroll E., ed. (William Duncan, illus.) — Symbols of the Church (59 pages)
  11. Hardy, Thomas — Jude the Obscure (507 pages)
  12. Lee, Harper — To Kill a Mockingbird (278 pages)
  13. Mann, Thomas (Helen T. Lowe-Porter, transl.) — Death in Venice (73 pages)
  14. Kempis, Thomas à — The Imitation of Christ (165 pages)
  15. West, Canon Edward N. — Outward Signs: The Language of Christian Symbolism (232 pages)
  16. Alexander, Lloyd — The High King (253 pages)
  17. Bellairs, John — St. Fidgeta & Other Parodies (84 pages)
  18. Endo, Shusaku — Silence (300 pages)
  19. Moorcock, Michael — Behold the Man (137 pages)
  20. Pouncey, Peter — Rules for Old Men Waiting (208 pages)
  21. Davies, Robertson — Tempest-Tost (The Salterton Trilogy) (235 pages)
  22. Davies, Robertson — Leaven of Malice (The Salterton Trilogy) (218 pages)
  23. Davies, Robertson — A Mixture of Frailties (The Salterton Trilogy) (311 pages)
  24. Austen, Jane — Pride and Prejudice (274 pages)

Page count: 5,866 of targeted 12,500.

I've had the recent Pride and Prejudice movie sitting on my hard drive for quite some time, but I don't like to see a movie based on a well-known book, as you know, until I've read the book. That said, I also don't like movies sitting around on my hard drive for months on end, so when I saw a copy of Austen's book being sold new for 99p, I decided it was high time I read Pride and Prejudice.

I read something by Austen sophomore year of college—I think it may have been Persuasion, but I honestly can remember almost nothing about it. I vaguely recall that I enjoyed Austen's easy prose but wasn't enamored with the book. Of course, that was the year I was introduced to Thomas Hardy and Graham Greene, so how could anyone hope to compete?

Now, I don't mean to belittle Austen. She is a fine writer. I simply confirmed that I don't tend to like manner comedies, which is precisely what she wrote. I abhor portraits that paint entire classes of people with such broad strokes. Perhaps part of it is that I find "Society" so despicable that I don't enjoy reading about it even when it is being mocked. Or, maybe it's that, guided by the pen of so perceptive an author as Austen, the sentiment hits too close to home, as with Elizabeth's declaration to Jane—

"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."

—and I suppose I don't like being reminded that I have such a strong cynical streak. Whatever the reason, I struggled to like Pride and Prejudice.

Yet, like it I did, a revelation that may strike some as Darcy's profession of love for Elizabeth struck her. It wears better, much as Death in Venice, on reflection afterwards than during the actual process of discovery. (Or maybe it's like my experience of Monty Python and the Holy Grail: I love hearing people quote the movie and refer to various priceless moments, but I cannot sit through the actual movie without falling asleep as I find it a most dreary and tedious film.) I came to like Pride and Prejudice much the same way Mr. Darcy came to like Elizabeth: after struggling with all the many reasons why I shouldn't and couldn't like it, I reached a point where I just couldn't help myself. Part of it, too, may be that the second half of the book dwells not so much on tiresome society and instead shifts to a closer accounting of the few truly interesting characters, mainly Elizabeth and Darcy.

As for the movie, it was utter crap! Really, I can think of very little redeeming about it. It suffers from the far-too-common problem of trying to capture the "letter" of the book and in the process missing its "spirit" altogether. Plus, it got important characters all wrong: Mr. Bennet was made utterly uninteresting, the elder Bennet sisters seemed almost as frivolous as their younger sisters, Mr. Collins was far too serious, and Darcy was made into a romantic figure!

I also happened to have Bride and Prejudice on my hard drive. Now that is a film that got it right! In saying "to hell with exactness and precision," it captured the spirit of Austen's novel much more accurately than the lavish Hollywood production. The Bennets became the Bakshis (and there were only four sisters: Jaya, Lalita, Lakhi, and Maya—really, Kitty adds nothing essential); Darcy is an American heir to a hotel fortune (and a Luke Wilson look-alike); Collins is Kholi, who works for Darcy's mom, Lady Catherine Darcy, and marries Lalita's best friend Chandra Lamba; and Johnny Wickham, a London good-for-nothing, was fired by Darcy for impregnating Georgina when she was 16. And yet, with all these alterations, Bollywood got the essence right. (And, I have to add, as much as I usually like Keira Knightley, Aishwarya Rai's Lizzy was far more intelligent and opinionated, essential qualities which Knightley totally whiffed on.) Anyway, who can resist an adaptation of a classic novel that includes a showstopping Bollywood song-and-dance number featuring mariachis, a Gospel choir, surfers, and Bay Watch-styled lifeguards!

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
sonata960
Aug. 5th, 2007 12:00 am (UTC)
I have seen both the P&P you mention, and I agree that the Bollywood one was better (a lot of my friends loved the Keira Knightley one, I was distracted by how thin she looked, which doesn't looked at all right with that style of dress).

My favorite P&P, though, is the BBC one with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. Check it out if you can.
spwebdesign
Aug. 5th, 2007 12:13 am (UTC)
This is the mini-series, right? I'll keep my eyes peeled for it.
ayelle
Aug. 5th, 2007 01:29 am (UTC)
I do think the miniseries was wonderful. As for the recent film, I enjoyed it in a way -- but only after making a determined effort to completely separate it from the beloved book in my mind. I thought it conformed to neither the letter nor the spirit of the original, frankly. (And even if I look at it attempting to appreciate it solely on its own merits and not in context of the source material, I still think the tacked-on ending for the American release, with Darcy and Elizabeth being schmoopy together overlooking his manor estate, to be utterly stupid. I can't believe that British audiences demanded to have that added back on to their version, after they discovered the American version had an extra final scene!!)
sonata960
Aug. 5th, 2007 03:46 am (UTC)
I totally agree about the final scene in the Keira Knightly version! Completely stupid and not needed at all. The miniseries is very true to the book, and the acting is wonderful all around.
spiderourhero
Aug. 6th, 2007 02:06 pm (UTC)
OMG, Bride and Prejudice was hilarity in a box! I loooved that movie!

I went to see the Keira Knightly version with my mom. She reads a lot of regency romances and watches lots of Hallmark specials on TV so obviously she loved the whole thing from the get-go. As for me.. I guess I can be a movie snob sometimes, but not when my mom's involved. She's been pretty sick for a pretty long time and watching her sit in the darkened movie theatre sipping her soda with a little smile on her face was really wonderful.

To be honest, I'm pretty ambivalent about both the movie and the book. Lit majors may be appalled but Pride and Prejudice never struck me as much more than one of those cheesy romance books with covers featuring elaborate paintings of buxom heroines swooning in the arms of their manly paramours. It's so cheesy and fake.

This, of course, didn't stop me from loving every second of Amelie--cheesy French kitsch though it may have been. So, apparently, my biggest beef with Austen was that she wrote in English and not French. Oh well.
spwebdesign
Aug. 6th, 2007 02:23 pm (UTC)
My only objection to your comment—and one of my principal objections to the movie—is that Pride and Prejudice is not a romance. It's a comedy of manners, a satire on the society of that age. Certainly, the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth is anything but romantic.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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