Tuesday, March 5, 2013

On Rereading Pride and Prejudice

It's quite pathetic, really, that I've been a fan of Jane Austen for pretty much exactly four years now (well, my indoctrination was four years ago, haha), P&P has been my favorite story ever since I saw the 1995 adaptation (which was the second story I was introduced to), and I only just finished reading it all the way through for the second time.

Sometimes I think I am more of a bookworm in theory than in practice....

Anyways. I enjoyed it a great deal, of course; it did take me a while to get "into" it, but I suppose that is because I really am soooo familiar with the story. But there is always something fresh to learn or be reminded of, and that's always fun. Plus I found that when I actually read more at a time I could more easily get involved.

For a long time I've been holding out on deciding between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightley--I'd read Emma twice, and P&P only once, I would say; well, I no longer have that excuse. Buuut... I still can't decide. It is true that my respect for Mr. Darcy was refreshed upon rereading P&P, and for the last half or so of the story I could 'feel' it all from his point of view actually better than Elizabeth's. (Well, I guess I might have donei t on purpose. :P) My admiration for Mr. Darcy, though, is just different from that of Mr. Knightley. The love stories are so different, too, and both so compelling in their own ways.

Also, it is hard to take into consideration that what one should be comparing is the heroes from the books, movies completely excluded. Because frankly, I think for a lot of people who adore Mr. Knightley, Jonny Lee Miller's portrayal has something to do with his popularity. Don't get me wrong--I don't think it's just because of the movie that he's such a great hero, because I happen to think the representation was perfect. JLM just got Mr. Knightley to a T.  The adaptation understood him... they took what was in the book and expanded on it without taking away from or adding to it.

And you know what? I can't say that for Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy. At all. (And don't even speak to me about Matthew MacFadyen's. He was a nice guy, and I have to say I kind of liked him... but NOT as Mr. Darcy. He is not Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy, and therefore not mine.) I have a high respect for Colin Firth's portrayal--it has been my old friend these three years and a half at least. (I mean, hello, I'm a co-founder of The P&P95Forever Club!) But I don't think the actor really understood the character; the portrayal only showed some aspects of his character and we can only see half as much as we can in the book (while some things, such as the un-smiling-ness, actually gives us the wrong impression). There is really so much more to Mr. Darcy, peoples. If you've forgotten, go read the book again. Live the story from his point of view. His character is a little hard to decipher, and we don't have exactly an abundance to go on... but that makes it so interesting!

In short, I do hope that someday, somebody like BBC will make another full-fledged adaptation of P&P in which Mr. Darcy's portrayal will do as much for his reputation, as JLM's did for Mr. Knightley's. Also, it would be fun to see actors who are actually the right ages. :D

Anyways. If I can actually make myself do it, I intend to write a post all about The Real Mr. Darcy (which may have a great deal of what-Colin-Firth-did-not-get thrown in). I will talk about such things as how he smiles more than in any of the movies, and that he actually has a sense of humor. How he is gentlemanly and considerate, and how we must remember that since most everything is from Elizabeth's point of view, besides the few hints Jane Austen chooses to give us, the unprejudiced eye might have understood him better and thought well of him towards the beginning, too.

And hey, if you would be interested in reading such a post... do let me know. It might encourage me to put my shoulder to the wheel. :P Also if you express an unfavorable opinion of Mr. Darcy, that might encourage me in a different way. Heh, heh, heh.

Something I noticed this time 'round that I failed to last time, is Jane Austen's amusing way of spelling (and capitalizing) things differently when she feels like it. In some editions you probably won't be able to see this, because they'll be 'correcting' things right and left. But it was Phillips the first couple times, Philips after that, until towards the end where it changed back to Phillips again. Sometimes it said "De Bourgh", other times it said "de Bourgh." At first I thought that it might just be a capital D when it said "Miss De Bourgh", but later on it had it the other way. And there were some other, commonplace words too... I used to think that when it said "choose" it had been corrected/updated, and when it said "chuse" it was Jane Austen's original; but this time I noticed that Jane did it both ways. There were a couple other words, too, that were spelled differently; sometimes even on the same page.

Just another one of Jane Austen's intricacies. ;)

However, I will have you know that Lizzy is always Lizzy, and is never, ever Lizzie. Also Bennet. One T. (Don't look at me like that. If I am a wild Beast who is always reminding people of the correct way to spell Austenian words, I cannot help it. It is not my own fault. :P)

And now, as I have run out of things to say and have rambled on for quite long enough anyways, I shall end with a list of quotes I scribbled down, which I did not scribble down the last time I read it.

"Mary wished to say something very sensible, but knew not how."

"Mr. Darcy walked off; and Elizabeth remained with no very cordial feelings towards him. She told the story however with great spirit among her friends; for she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in any thing ridiculous."

"From all that I can collect by your manner of talking, you must be two of the silliest girls in the country. I have suspected it for some time, but now I am convinced." -Mr. Bennet

"To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love."

"Mr. Darcy is not to be laughed at! That is an uncommon advantage, and uncommon I hope it will continue, for it would be a great loss to me to have many such acquaintance. I dearly love a laugh." -Elizabeth

"Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can." -Elizabeth

"It is a rule with me, that a person who can write a long letter, with ease, cannot write ill." -Miss Bingley

"I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!" -Miss Bingley

"Far be it from me, my dear sister, to depreciate such pleasures. They would doubtless be congenial with the generality of female minds. But I confess they would have no charms for me. I should infinitely prefer a book." -Mary

"A scheme of which every part promises delight, can never be successful; and general disappointment is only warded off by the defence of some little peculiar vexation."  -Elizabeth


Miss Dashwood said...

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I love that quote about Mary wishing to say something sensible, but not knowing how. I identify with that a little more than I would wish to... *cough*...

I should muchly like to read a post on The Real Mr. Darcy. Shall I shove your shoulder to the wheel? Or would it be more effective if I expressed an opinion which is, in fact, not my own and bashed the poor fellow so you'd have to come defend him? Just let me know. Always happy to oblige.

p.s. I always get so happy when I see a post of Thine on my dashboard. You should blog more often. Not that that's a hint or anything.

Melody said...

Ha, indeed. I think we all identify with that sometimes. ;) Although with me, it is that I wish to say something clever or witty and know not how. :P
Oh, good grief, no. Positive encouragement from you, m'dear, would work much better than provocation.
Heehee, I am glad that makes you happy. And I'm twying. But it's harrrrd.

Alexandra said...

I am agog, I am aghast...did Melody actually speak against Colin Firth? :-P

Except thaaaat...I totally agree. As you may know, I'm slowly trying to get my way through P&P annnnd the thing that shocked me the most about it was how little most of the characters reminded me of their 95 counterparts...couldn't picture them at all...ESPECIALLY Mr. D. Absolutely flabbergasted me. Anyway. So yeah. I totally vote for new BBC adaptation.

Jessica said...

Yes, do write a post on Mr. Darcy. ;-)I have always liked him. And although I do like Colin Firth in the part, you are right that he is not just right for it. This may be shocking, but I don't think Mr. Firth is handsome enough for one thing. ha I didn't picture him looking at all like Colin Firth when reading the book....

Jane said...

Very True!! I agree with the general consensus that Colin Firth wasn't the Perfect Mr Darcy.
I watched the mini series after I read the book & my first impression of Colin Firth was, "He's not as handsome as I imagined Mr Darcy to be!" Nevertheless, I still think he did a good job, at least alot better than the other options!
Now, a new adaption would be interesting but at the same time I'd be a bit nervous at what would be produced, the 1995 P&P being so iconic and so accurate!!

Livia Rachelle said...

Perhaps Colin Firth's portrayal was done so that Darcy's complexities would not be messed up in the book to movie transition-just a thought. Also, Mr. Darcy was more developed than Mr. Knightly-you don't really ever get much of Mr. Knightly's view and you have to read him through everyday conversation...that is why he could be expanded upon and that is why I think that Johnny Lee Miller AND Mark Strong's adaptions can stand (don't speak to me of Jeremy Northam-I cannot abide that lump). Also the spellings and capitalizations "discrepancies" were NOT peculiar to JA; such things had not been standardized yet, and some of the interesting spellings may well be the British versions now-there is considerable differences between the languages BESIDES accents.
My second or third rereading had me hating Elizabeth for her blindness and prejudice (two of my pet peeves in real life) because I knew the truth, and she had obvious signs-so I was more on Darcy's side the whole book for that particular reread. I have a bad habit of skipping through to find what I want rather than rereading, and I have read so few books that I feel I don't deserve to reread my favs just yet consequently all of my Classic Club books (what a wonderful concept) are ones I haven't read :(

Melody said...

Hahaha. I do love to shock people sometimes. ;)
Yeah, I don't really picture the actors when I'm reading P&P either... but then, I prefer it that way. I actually usually try to read books without picturing the movies. I like to make my own vision of them, hoping that it might be more like the authors'; and the 1995 adaptation is good because none of the characters are inaccurately portrayed, and it is well-acted. :)
So... do you like CF's or the book's Mr. Darcy better? (Well, so far...)

Haha... I do wish I would have read the book first. I wonder how I would have pictured him? And do you know, towards the end of the story I actually started picturing Daniel Parish from Lark Rise for some reason... o.O
Although, the book never did exactly go on and on about him being handsome or anything. And although Elizabeth agreed verbally with the housekeeper that he was handsome, she did think at some point that he wasn't as dashing as Wickham.

Yes, he's far and away the best one! :)
Yeah, well, they had produced a new one in 2005, and since that one was so inaccurate, maybe it would swing back to being accurate again this time. ;)

Livia Rachelle,
Having the complexities not be obvious is definitely preferable to messing them up! Although I still think Colin Firth didn't exactly understand him, and that he should have smiled just a tad more! :)
You don't get Mr. Darcy's view all that often in P&P either, and a lot of his character is learned through conversations too... except in the areas where Elizabeth is finding out more about him. ;)
Oh, I did think the spellings themselves were peculiar to JA, and I do know that things weren't standardized at the time; it is just that I found it amusing how she actually spelled things differently apparently depending on what she felt like at the time. Idiosyncratic, you know. See, if it was me, I would pick the spelling/capitalization I thought best and stick with it, rather than doing different things at random--but I find it quite interesting that she did it that way.
And I've done a little research for various British spellings and a lot of them were old-fashioned and are no longer the standard even in the UK. Some of the less odd ones can sort of be optional though, I think.
Haha, I know what you mean about feeling like you don't deserve to reread some books yet when there are so many untouched! ;) But I'm glad The Classics Club lets you put rereads on the list. It's kind of nice to take breaks from the new stuff and go back to the ones you know already that you're going to like.

Thanks for commenting, everyone!

Melody said...

Livia Rachelle,
Ha, I meant I did NOT think the spellings themselves were peculiar to JA. ;)

Kara said...

I'm definitely in favor of you doing a post on Mr. Darcy! hint hint hint :P

Should I admit that it's been years since I read P&P? But since I just won a copy recently, I really need to read it again.

You know, if you did a post on Mr. Darcy, it would probably go a long ways in encouraging my reread! ;)

All those quotes are fabulous by the way.

Melody said...

Oh, you definitely should read it again! :) And if you think a Mr. Darcy post would make you want to, that surely is good encouragement. Thanks. ;)

Hamlette said...

Please do a post on what you see in Mr. Darcy! I'd be fascinated.

I recently reread P&P and noticed how very often Darcy says something and is completely misunderstood, even by Bingley! You can read a lot of his lines at least two ways, which is just fascinating from both a reader's and writer's perspectives.

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