I am a big fan of the book and an Austenite, even before Stephanie Meyers mentions in her Twilight books and the numerous directors presented their version of the story on television and on the silver screen.
I had gotten into it accidentally.
It was senior year, on our way to Manteca. My friend who was in an AP English class had to read the book but he was too tired to read it. He had brought it on the bus with the supposed intention of reading and it wasn’t happening.
I liked reading aloud so I offered my services.
We had gotten through the first five pages when we arrived and he thought no more of it.
But I was intrigued.
What was going to happen to these people? Why did they want to get their girls married off? Even though my class wasn’t reading the book, I went to the school library and borrowed the tapes to watch at home. I then had to borrow the book and read it.
Sparring with words. That’s what it was. Being witty and expressing your disdain not through harsh curse words but through underhanded verbal blows. No Jerry Springer. No scenes from Cheaters. It was confrontation and pure literary expression. It’s strange to think that things are so in-your-face nowadays and that a casual comment of elegant disdain in a controlled tone of voice was staple of how people expressed themselves and insulted another.
Can you imagine telling someone off, not through angry tirades that involve screaming and throwing small objects (flower pots, cats, children, etc…), but with an appropriately placed, heavily vocabulary-laden phrases like, “I would think you quite nice were it not for the fact that you were sired by individuals who could not be considered much more than commonly pretty” or “I should like to join in your game of Whist but I am predisposed to undertake personal endeavors which are physically testing by the by.” That could mean everything from “I’m bored and don’t want to play your stupid game” to “I’m going out to dance and get wasted!”.
I tried speaking like that in English but it just didn’t come out too naturally (i.e. I sounded like a nob). In Spanish, however, since I am clearly foreign, it was acceptable and even charming (at least, that’s what I imagine; I might be considered as much a nob in both languages).