“Well imagined and happily represented”: a review of Pride and Prejudice from 1813

****WARNING: READERS SHOULD BE ADVISED THAT THE REVIEW BELOW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, AND ALSO LOTS OF THOSE ANNOYING Ss THAT LOOK LIKE Fs****

review from the british critic, 1813 copyThe author of a review of Pride and Prejudice which appeared in The British Critic in 1813, the year that the novel was first published, gives a very positive account of the book.  Although “the story has no great variety”, and the critic has some doubts about the portrayal of Darcy (who “somewhat abruptly changes to the ardent lover”), the novel is described as “very far superior to almost all the publications of the same kind which have lately come before us”, and the character of Elizabeth Bennet “is supported with great spirit and consistency throughout”.

Secondary characters are also singled out for praise.  Mr. Bennet’s satirical but indolent approach to parenthood is novel and entertaining, while Kitty and Lydia are highly relatable characters:

The picture of the young Miss Bennets, their perpetual visits to the market town where officers are quartered, and the result, is perhaps exemplified in every provincial town in the kingdom.

The “obsequious rector”, Mr. Collins, is also deemed to be “excellent”:

Fancy presents us with many such, who consider the patron of exalted rank as the model of all that is excellent on earth, and the patron’s smiles and condescension as the sum of human happiness.

It’s interesting that Mr. Collins, who seems to modern eyes to be something of a caricature, comes across to this contemporary reviewer as a recognisable (if comic) figure.

pride and prejudice - almost as soon as I entered the house
Mr. Collins uses the term “condescending” (or a variation thereof) eleven times during the course of the novel – and always means it as a compliment

 

Generally, the reviewer is delighted with Pride and Prejudice, stating that “we have perused these volumes with much satisfaction and amusement”, and that they look forward to reading further work by the same author.  This is no faint praise, especially if we are to assume that the reviewer is also the author of the review immediately preceding this one, of “Othello Travestie – In Three Acts, With Burlesque Notes“.  Here it is in its entirety:

We cannot possibly imagine how any person in his senses should think of printing such trash as this volume, or how any bookseller, at all tenacious of his reputation, should allow his name to be prefixed.

Ouch.

 

 

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Good review – although it does contain spoilers!

    Zoe

    Like

    1. Karen says:

      Whoops, apologies Zoe! 😀 Have added a spoiler warning. Glad you liked it!

      Like

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