December 17, 2010

Happy Fri. -38 at the airport. About -21 here. That seems cold.

Yokelly we are watching again the long BBC version of Pride & Prejudice. Good acting, costumes, sets, music. The English country dancing scenes are a trip into the past. Plenty of British upper-class snobbism and lower-class boorishness. Lots more of the original dialogue. The plot is slight: Mr. Bennett resides at Longbourne estate with his silly wife, five daughters, and a couple of servants. The estate is entailed from the female line, meaning it will be inherited by someone male and, alas under the circumstances, not a Bennett. Oldest daughters Jane and Elizabeth (“Lizzy”) are 21 and 19. The others range down to the giddy and apparently brainless 15 year old Lydia, a reasonable facsimile of her mother, Mrs. Bennett, whose silly remarks and rudeness provide much of the humor and plot motivation. Mr. Bingley, a rich young bachelor leases the neighboring estate. He is accompanied by his two snobbish sisters, one drunkard brother-in-law, and the handsome and proud Mr. Darcy, one of the richest aristocrats in England. Since this is a comedy, we know early on that marriages will result for the intelligent and beautiful older sisters, but the road to that endpoint is rocky. OCS would probably have taken custody of Lydia at one point late in the story. And a certain Mr. Wickham would be an RSO. But the book is much more than the plot and characters. Jane Austen was one of the finest writers in English and had an acute eye for the ridiculous, probably exercised by her own placid country surroundings. She herself had an offer of marriage that fell through and lived out her life in her father’s house. He was a clergyman, so Austen was fairly free with amusing portraits of clergymen, including the absurd Mr. Collins of P&P. In a world filled with mayhem and shopping, Austen’s books are a small island of sanity.

Local news is this and that. Retirement of a K-9 “officer” named Baron. Cute photo of Baron at ease, when not biting the heck out of some malefactor.

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