Unemployment has re-introduced to my daily routine, for the first time since early adolescence, the ritual of breakfast. Lindsey still has no time for it, and I hope that I can soon discard my discovery in favor of gainful employment, but for the past several mornings I've enjoyed having a short time set aside to drink coffee, eat toast, and collect my thoughts over a work of fiction. That said, for the life of me I've been unable to ascertain the cause of the enduring popularity of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I've been subjected to various films of the thing over the years, and been bored out of my mind. I've been derided even by male friends for not wanting anything to do with what, supposedly, is one of the greatest works of fiction in the English language. And so I pose the question to you, my (possibly only) reader: what is supposed to be so good about this book? I'm about halfway through this thing, and am determined to finish it, but it's really hard, because nothing happens. It's always been sold to me (or so I thought) as this terrific love story, but the characters are (forgive me) really pretty shallowly drawn, and the thing seems to have been constructed originally as some sort of social commentary with a love story as the main plot vehicle. I'm probably reading this thing totally wrong, but what I'm getting out of it primarily is that Jane Austen hated a) the rigid middle-to-upper-class social structure of her time, and b) women. The book is, so far, more than a little unkind to the fairer sex. Maybe that's the point? That the social structure of the time turned women into a conniving mass of mercenary vixens, intent on getting their hooks into some unfortunate (though rich) fop of a man, so that the rest of their days can be lived out in an endless string of dinner parties, card games, and social dances. That's one of my hypotheses. There also seems to be a lot of discussion of preconceived notions ("prejudices," as one might say), and their influence on decisions. I guess that would gel more with the title. Whatever the point of the thing (I'll get back to you when I finish it), Austen spends entirely too much time on characters about whom it is absolutely painful to read. The absolute stupidity of these characters defies disbelief. My third (and favorite) hypothesis is that this is actually a work of Science Fiction, about robots that have been programed to destroy the human soul. I'm sorry about the rant, here. I know that many, many people love this book, and can name all of the characters and houses featured therein, and recite their favorite passages from memory. I'm trying to keep an open mind here, really. Otherwise, I wouldn't be reading the book in the first place. I already know the story. I'm not expecting it to suddenly be full of interesting things, like sex, violence, revenge, fear, guilt, redemption, or even passion, but wow. What am I supposed to be looking for here? Am I just supposed to like this because it's British, and I get to read about places (that aren't subdivisions in Southeast Michigan) called Derbyshire and Pemberly, and to hear London simply called "town?" I don't even know. As always I welcome any comments, as I suspect that I've offended someone's sensibilities, and must now submit to a snarky, yet nonetheless righteous defense of such a hallowed tome. I want to like this thing; I really do.
Either way, I'll try to put up some final thoughts when I finish the book, which (as I said) I'm determined to do.