Sunday, 27 January 2013

Letter no. 1

26, January, 2013

Dear Ashleigh

What a wonderful visit at Frida’s.  It was so diverting.  You have asked some very good questions about my experience reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

First, I have come late to reading Austen.  My first reading followed Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. After reading this book I decided to read all the books that the women in Tehran risked torture and imprisonment to read and discuss.  How could I treat reading so casually when others risk so much?

Elizabeth Bennet is now one of my close friends.  I spend time with her regularly and it is very comforting.  She has people in her life that she loves, those that she tolerates and those that she judges as having faults.  I can identify with that.  Neither of us is perfect!

 Age,class and gender do not prevent her from speaking her truth. She skilfully confronts her father about his laissez-faire handling of Lydia, although he does not heed her warning.  She does not let Mr. Darcy get away with incivility. She sets boundaries with Lady Catherine de Burg. “I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness,without reference to you, or to a any person so wholly unconnected with me.”  What an extraordinary statement.  Can you imagine what life would be like if every 10 year old memorized these words? It might just put me out of business because the preoccupation about what others might think is the second most frequent cause of inaction!

Relationship is the filter through which I make sense of any book.   The social worker in me observes the interaction between the characters and the development of the relationship e.g.acquaintance, friendship, emotional connection, conflict, disconnection and reconnection.  A lot of this arc happens between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy when they are not in contact with each other.  She is in Longborn thinking she will never see him again and he is in London tracking Wickham and Lydia.  The reconnection is so tentative and reserved when he returns to visit Netherfield with Mr. Bingley.  At this time they work at making amends, he for his pride and she for her prejudice. A lovely circle don’t you think?


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