Hello out there and welcome to the second installment in Another Year of Fiction (AYOF). After starting off with the morbid murder tale The Killer Inside Me, I decided to take stock of our current society (and my wife’s years-long wishes) and pivot toward what is generally considered the first feminist novel: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Even as this legendary novel reached its 200th birthday a few years prior it had long taken its place in the Western canon, both due to Austen’s radical vision of her society and in her varied use of language and dialogue. For those who don’t know the story I won’t give too much of it away, but suffice to say that the two words in the title convey a host of meanings upon main characters Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. I want to chiefly dive into the two major lessons I appreciated through reading this beloved masterwork.
Upon reading this novel I completely understand why it’s considered one of the greatest in the English language. But more pointedly, given the current bizarre misogynistic waves churning our glorious American society I thought it was a very important book to read at this time. Recall that Austen was taking an unparalleled look at her own society, its mores and values, and providing a sharp rebuke through her extraordinary female characters. Yet she never shies away from showing their faults and foibles with ironic delicacy. That being said, it’s important to note that the world needs strong females now more than ever, especially those who challenge the dominant order of things and weird, anti-intellectual trends such as the “men’s rights” movement. This novel felt like a major corrective against our current slump toward a dark age in America, and helped remind me about how people once comported themselves (though one hesitates to wear too rosy a color glasses peering into the 19th century). I would highly recommend this to those who, like me for years, thought they were “above” reading such a work as this.
Moving forward, I have decided to travel ahead several centuries and back into commercial fiction, delving into my first Grisham novel, his hugely successful The Firm. Stay tuned for the next update in Another Year of Fiction. And thanks for reading!
John Abraham-Watne is an author and freelance journalist located in the Twin Cities, where he lives with his wife Mary and their two cats. This blog is his attempt to catalog all the events that culminate a local writer's life.