Editor’s Note: Kimberlee Conway Ireton has a Pride and Prejudice sense of humor and an appreciation of, well, the finer things in Colin Firth. It seemed apt to share her sick-day musings and amusements, in celebration of the 200th birthday of the book that has made so many people fairly faint with literary ecstasy (this excludes those of us who are wondering who Jane Austen actually is and conveniently forgot to open the book, like, ever—a lapse of reading experience universally acknowledged by the same people who forgot to open Sense & Sensibility).
Ah, the delights of rereading a favorite book! I’ve been sick all week, so I indulged myself in the hilarity and romance that is Pride and Prejudice.
I first read this book when I was 16 and liked it tolerably well (oh dear, Austen is affecting my diction) and then again when I was a freshman in college and liked it better. Since then I’ve read it another half dozen times or so, and have liked it more with each reading.
Apart from Elizabeth Bennet’s wit and likeability (I want her to be my friend), Mr. Darcy’s to-swoon-for good looks and goodness (I want him to be my man), Jane Austen herself is frickin’ hilarious (I want to be her). And since laughter is the best medicine, I should be well in no time.
For you, I’ve compiled five quotes that made me laugh out loud, beginning with the opening sentences, which so marvelously set the tone for the whole book:
1. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering the neighborhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.”
2. “Mary wished to say something very sensible, but knew not how.”
3. Mrs. Gardiner: “I should be sorry, you know, to think ill of a young man who has lived so long in Derbyshire.” Elizabeth: “Oh! if that is all, I have a very poor opinion of young men who live in Derbyshire; and their intimate friends who live in Hertfordshire are not much better.”
4. Elizabeth, on being invited to tour the Lakes: “What delight! What felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains?”
5. After meeting Lady Catherine for the first time, “Elizabeth was called on by her cousin (Mr. Collins), to give her opinion of all that she had seen at Rosings… But her commendation, though costing her some trouble, could by no means satisfy Mr. Collins, and he was very soon obliged to take her Ladyship’s praise into his own hands.”
Bonus P&P Quote—my favorite line ever, when Elizabeth is pining for Mr. Darcy: “But no such happy marriage could now teach the admiring multitude what connubial felicity really was.”
Who besides Jane Austen can get away with a phrase like “connubial felicity,” let alone make it funny?
If you’ve not read this book at least once, you really ought to. Seeing the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice from 1995 is great, but nothing compares with the original words of Jane Austen, not even Colin Firth in a wet shirt (though that’s a–very–close second).
Did Jane Austen show up in Kimberlee’s diction? Or does it show up in yours? Check it out, with the Pride and Prejudice Text Analyzer.