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Okrzyki, przyjaciel!

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Pride and Prejudice [Sep. 14th, 2005|02:09 pm]
Okrzyki, przyjaciel!
I managed to get an English degree while avoiding most of the literature between 1650 and 1900. Those are what I referred to in college as "the years of really long sentences."

But I borrowed my brother (or sister-in-law's) copy of "Pride And Prejudice" to read on the plane back from NYC, and have been enjoying it quite a bit. Some places the meanings of words have drifted enough that I have to re-read a paragraph a few times to get what's going on, but it's wonderfully written, and Elizabeth Bennet was probably one of the first really strong female characters in English literature. It's obvious how much propriety affected Austin in writing it -- people in the book allude rather than blurt for the most part, and when they do blurt, it's as shocking as it was meant to be. It's also almost science-fiction-esque because of how little is mentioned of the poor, or people working. She's also absolutely uninterested in clothing -- there's mention of people being interested in fashions, but the fashions themselves are beneath mention. While there's plenty of rural English atmosphere, the meat of the novel is completely removed from the quotidian. No one works, no one really pays for anything, no one takes a bath. After a while it's a little like the characters are balls bouncing off each other on the frictionless plane of high school physics. The dialogue, while not always seeming like things actual humans would say, is brilliant -- I found a 'Jane Austen Quotes' website and the quotes for Pride and Prejudices comprise almost all the dialog from the novel.

There's a new movie of P&P coming out starring Kiera Knightly. From the trailer I think I'm with optic --they've done great violence to the dialog from the book. Without Austen's dialog I'm afraid the movie will end up being Couple Meets Cute In Costume. Luckily there's a miniseries version from the BBC, with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy -- the role he was born to play. I might try to grab a used copy of the DVD to watch.
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Comments:
From: elkay
2005-09-14 07:41 pm (UTC)
definitely dialogue is what austen is all about.

and that bbc version is hottt.
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[User Picture]From: tryffid
2005-09-15 03:55 pm (UTC)
and that bbc version is hottt.

Agreed. Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth were superb.
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[User Picture]From: chaircrusher
2005-09-15 01:28 am (UTC)
I'd love to see the A&E version. I'm also interested in seeing 1940 version with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson,
and the BBC did a mini-series of it in in 1952! And of course Bride and Prejudice

I am curious as to how undergrads react to it at this point. The language might be a bit of an obstacle, with knee slappers like Mr. Darcy's "But from the severity of the blame which was last night so liberally bestowed, respecting each circumstance, I shall hope to be in future secured, when the following account of my action and their motives has been read."

Luckily Lizzy is more succinct: "There are few people I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more I am dissatisfied with it; and everyday 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."

Of course you can see why I refer to the 18th and 19th centuries as the years of really long sentences. But then, as I grow older, I've decided that sometimes the best sentences are the longest; that the semicolon is the friend of one who would express thoughts, long form, that ill fit a short, declarative exposition -- half-page journeys forged with no deference to Hemingway, whose style, though appealing within its own context, has a lot to answer for in the way generations of writers have been ruined in its emulation, eschewing the comma and forsaking the em-dash out of a misplaced worship of brevity.
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[User Picture]From: optic
2005-09-15 02:32 am (UTC)
The Olivier/Garson one is not bad, but it does take some liberties. Of course, you have to to et a novel into movie-length, but there are some odd decisions.

Lots of people seem to have gotten Austen in high school and didn't like it at all, and have lon resolved never to try her again, unfortunately -- for a lot, I think they'd enjoy it later.
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[User Picture]From: pipecock
2005-09-15 02:56 am (UTC)
i <3 hemingway. no one actually SAID sentences like those back in the day, theyd need to talk for like minutes at a time to get anything out. theyd need to stop to breathe at some point! hemingway was great for cutting to the chase and being realistic.
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