Obviously, from the abridged version, I know the basic premise of the P&P, but reading the actual novel truly takes the reader to another place. Everyone has been there. Even Kathleen Kelly has been there. You judge someone by having preconceived ideas and you are too proud to see your own possible shortcomings.
As a brief aside--Even as an 11 year old, Kathleen's lines "Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around?" resonated with me. They still do, in fact (though sometimes I wonder about the "value" of what I am doing with my life as well). While I frequently think that I don't have enough time to read and that I haven't read enough books for my 25 years, I find that I have a difficult time separating my life from the things that I have read. I feel like maybe I'm not as strong or brave as the females in the novels that I have read...Another post for another time, I suppose...
I did some searching to see if I could glean anything on why there is so much interest (or whatever the right word is that I am looking for, but cannot find) surrounding this particular novel. I didn't have to dig very much before I found this snippet that even I--who am only about a third of the way through the actual novel--can see is true:
As Anna Quindlen wrote,That is so true! You don't have to go on a vast adventure to learn about yourself. Not everyone can go on some big adventure. But you can still learn about yourself. Austen does a good job (at least so far and I'm sure it continues) of making the reader understand Elizabeth's inner transformation and inner-monologue, without "telling rather than showing." Though I now strongly dislike this particular professor, I once took a wonderful course on identity in novels of the 19th and early 20th century. We had a fantastic reading list (which I need to dig out again...) Ever since then, I have really enjoyed novels that deal with this concept.
"Pride and Prejudice is also about that thing that all great novels consider, the search for self. And it is the first great novel to teach us that that search is as surely undertaken in the drawing room making small talk as in the pursuit of a great white whale or the public punishment of adultery."
Despite all of this, I have long had a difficult relationship with this novel and with Jane Austen. I can't really pinpoint a reason for this. Maybe it has something to do with that book report. I got an F on it. Why? Because the teacher was a kook who gave contradictory instructions and I got burned for it. Or maybe it was because of my own preconceptions about Austen being too girly and boring--though I am finding her awfully witty this go around. Who knows? I must say though that the book world has led to regular exposure to Austen and I think that this regular exposure has helped to thaw my attitude towards Austen and her novels.