Well, I’ve now read Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice. Certainly quite an accomplishment for a guy, in my opinion. Read on to understand my thinking.
This isn’t a review of the book, but just some intriguing facts I came across since reading it. Also a few personal thoughts and observations.
Always looking for recommendations, I find it interesting what books men read, if they read books at all. Most men today, I think, read for news and information, rather than reading books for pleasure. And even that has changed. It seems that the man who read a newspaper every day, and maybe a weekly news magazine or Sports Illustrated, has been replaced by those who follow their favorite websites and get a few news alerts regularly emailed and tweets to keep up with their particular business or interests.
Yet, obviously somebody is buying all those New York Times Best Sellers. But research says the majority of books are both bought and read by women.
In addition research further concludes that of men who do regularly read books the great majority of books they read are authored by men. Whereas women more often will read books by both men and women.
Now to get back to the statement I made at the beginning of this post. Recently I finished reading Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice. One of several interests and goals in my choices for what to read is to catch up on some of the ‘classics.’ In choosing to read Pride and Prejudice I think I’ve gone very much against the norm for a guy.
I don’t know the book equivalent for the term ‘chick-flick,’ but Pride and Prejudice is most assuredly the perfect example. It’s at the top of the list of books most beloved by women.
I know many women who have read it; my wife, my sister, the wives of several friends, my daughter, my nieces – I could go on. But I don’t personally know one guy who’s read the book – or they aren’t admitting to it.
Certainly there is a prejudice where guys are concerned about reading Pride and Prejudice, still I take Pride in having overcome such Prejudice in having tackled the book.
Of those men who do read regularly, and read fiction, I believe it often leans toward authors like Michael Crichton and John Grisham. They may even read Mark Twain, Jules Verne or John Steinbeck. But I guess Jane Austin just isn’t on most men’s radar.
Personally I enjoyed the book. But I have to admit that the early 19th century British style that Austin wrote in was a bit of a challenge. Reading for pleasure, at times it took two or three readings of a sentence, paragraph or page to be somewhat clear on exactly what was said. Not quite Shakespearean in style, but the writing is far enough removed from modern fiction that I had to, at times, ‘work’ at understanding it.
I had heard that in Pride and Prejudice Jane Austin was able to present great insight into the differences between men and women. Taking into account the class and gender rules of early 19th century England, Austin’s characters still speak to 21th century women, obviously, because the book is such a favorite with women. But it speaks to the 21th century man as well, if he would only read it.
Take a look at just one character for example, Mr. Bennet. He’s the father of five girls of or near the age eligible to be married. He’s also the husband of a woman that has little self-control and even less sense of propriety where others feelings are concerned. I can relate to him, and understand that when faced with great challenges that require difficult choices many men instead choose to withdrawal and avoid the effort it takes to face their responsibilities head-on. It can seem an overwhelming battle that too many are not willing to take on.
Pride and Prejudice presents Mr. Bennet’s weakness in a somewhat sympathetic light, but also shows his weakness is obvious to others and more importantly to himself. And his weakness has a profound affect on the whole family.
Most all the characters in the book are presented in a lighthearted and entertaining way. And I enjoyed it enough that in a moment of weakness I mentioned to my wife that I would be willing to watch a film version of it. Needless to say, we will be watching the 2005 version with Keira Knightly soon. I realized too late the probable reason why those men haven’t admitted to reading the book.