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Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice, first published on 28 January 1813, is the most famous of Jane Austen's novels and one of the first "romantic comedies" in the history of the novel. The book is Jane Austen's second published novel.

Its manuscript was first written between 1796 and 1797, initially called First Impressions, but was never published under that title. Following revisions, it was first published on 28 January 1813. Like both its predecessors, Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey, it was written in Steventon, Hampshire, where Austen lived in the rectory. The title of the book is taken from a sentence in Fanny Burney's Cecilia; Austen was a reader and admirer of Burney's novels.

Plot Summary

The novel opens with the famous line, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife". The arrival of such a single man "of considerable fortune" in the neighbourhood greatly excites Mrs. Bennet. Mrs. Bennet's sole interest in life is to see her five eligible daughters well settled and happily married to fine men of 'considerable fortune'. The man in question in this instance is Mr. Bingley, who has leased the Netherfield estate where he plans to settle for a while with his two sisters, Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst, and his brother-in-law, Mr. Hurst.

Soon after moving in, Mr. Bingley and his party, which now includes his close friend Fitzwilliam Darcy, attend a public ball in the village of Meryton. At first, Mr. Darcy is admired for his fine figure and income of £10,000 a year and is far more the subject of attention than Mr. Bingley. However, the villagers soon become disgusted with his pride. This is brought home to Elizabeth Bennet when she overhears him decline Mr. Bingley's suggestion that he dance with her because, he says, "she is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me". Mr. Bingley, on the other hand, proves highly agreeable, dancing with many of the eligible ladies in attendance and showing his decided admiration for Jane Bennet.

(From Wikipedia, description text under GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL))

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