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Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen


  JANE AUSTEN was born on 16 December 1775 at Steventon, near Basingstoke, the seventh child of the rector of the parish. She lived with her family at Steventon until they moved to Bath when her father retired in 1801. After his death in 1805, she moved around with her mother; in 1809, they settled in Chawton, near Alton, Hampshire. Here she remained, except for a few visits to London, until in May 1817 she moved to Winchester to be near her doctor. There she died on 18 July 1817.

  Jane Austen was extremely modest about her own genius, describing her work to her nephew, Edward, as ‘the little bit (two Inches wide) of Ivory, on which I work with so fine a Brush, as produces little effect after much labour’. As a girl she wrote stories, including burlesques of popular romances. Her works were published only after much revision, four novels being published in her lifetime. These are Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815). Two other novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published posthumously in 1817 with a biographical notice by her brother, Henry Austen, the first formal announcement of her authorship. Persuasion was written in a race against failing health in 1815–16. She also left two earlier compositions, a short epistolary novel, Lady Susan, and an unfinished novel, The Watsons. At the time of her death, she was working on a new novel, Sanditon, a fragmentary draft of which survives.

  VIVIEN JONES is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Leeds. She has published books on Henry James and Jane Austen, and her publications on gender and writing in the eighteenth century include Women in the Eighteenth Century: Constructions of Femininity (1990) and Women and Literature in Britain 1700–1800 (2000), as well as numerous articles. She has edited Frances Burney’s Evelina for Oxford World’s Classics.

  CLAIRE LAMONT is Textual Adviser for the works of Jane Austen in Penguin Classics.

  TONY TANNER was a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, and Professor of English and American Literature at the University of Cambridge. He taught and travelled extensively in America and Europe. Among his many books are The Reign of Wonder (1965); City of Words (1970); Contract and Transgression: Adultery and the Novel (1980); Jane Austen (1986); Scenes of Nature, Signs of Men (1987); Venice Desired (1992); Henry James and the Art of Non-Fiction (1995); and The American Mystery (2000). Tony Tanner died in December 1998.


  Pride and Prejudice

  Edited with an Introduction and Notes by


  With the original Penguin Classics Introduction by




  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London, WC2R 0RL, England

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  Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London, WC2R 0RL, England

  First published 1813

  Published in Penguin Classics 1996

  This edition reissued with new Chronology, updated Further Reading

  and 1972 Penguin Classics Introduction by Tony Tanner 2003


  Introduction and Notes copyright © Vivien Jones, 1996, 2003

  Textual Adviser’s Note and Chronology copyright © Claire Lamont, 1995, 2003

  Appendix: Original Penguin Classics Introduction copyright © Tony Tanner, 1972

  All rights reserved

  The moral right of the editors has been asserted

  Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject

  to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent,

  re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s

  prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in

  which it is published and without a similar condition including this

  condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

  EISBEN: 978–0–141–90721–5



  The Penguin Edition of the Novels of Jane Austen



  Further Reading

  Note on the Text

  Pride and Prejudice

  Volume One

  Volume Two

  Volume Three

  Appendix: Original Penguin Classics Introduction by Tony Tanner

  Emendations to the Text



  I want to thank John Barnard, Paul Hammond, Rick Jones, Angela Keane, David Lindley, Oliver Pickering, Susan Spearey, Andrew Wawn and John Whale for their help in preparing this edition. It was completed during study leave funded by the Humanities Research Board of the British Academy, and I am grateful for research time, both to them and to the School of English, University of Leeds.

  Vivien Jones

  June 1995

  The Penguin Edition of the Novels of Jane Austen

  The texts of Austen’s novels in the Penguin Edition are based on the first editions and have been edited afresh. The texts of four of the novels are necessarily based on the first edition: in the case of Pride and Prejudice Austen sold the copyright to the publisher of the first edition and was not involved with the preparation of the two further editions in her lifetime; Emma did not reach a second edition in Britain in Austen’s lifetime; and Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published posthumously. Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park, however, both appeared in second editions in which Austen took some part. Hitherto all reprints of these novels have been based on the second editions. The Penguin Edition returns to the first-edition texts of both novels, and includes a list of the substantive variants between the two editions so that readers can see clearly for the first time the alterations made between the first and second editions.

  The editors have worked from copies of the first editions kindly supplied by the Bodleian Library, Oxford. The editorial policy is one of minimum intervention: no attempt has been made to modernize spelling or punctuation, or to render spellings consistent so long as the variant spellings were acceptable in the period. Where any of these might cause difficulty to the modern reader the editor has offered help and explanation in a note.

  The editors have emended the text in the following circumstances: errors in spelling and punctuation have been corrected. Where, after all allowance has been made for historical usage, the text seems faulty the editors have cautiously emended it. They have been assisted by the fact that there is a tradition of Austen scholarship. The first edition of Austen’s novels to examine the texts thoroughly was The Novels of Jane Austen, edited by R. W. Chapman, 5 vols (Clarendon, 1923). This pioneering edition was itself revised in later reprints, and all recent editions have been either based on Chapman’s text or acknowledge debts to it. The editors of the Penguin Edition have edited Austen’s texts anew from the first editions, but in making decisions about obscurities and cruxes they have borne in mind the work of previous commentators on the Austen texts. The greatest of these is R. W. Chapman, but there have been others, including critics and general readers who have from time to
time queried passages in Austen’s texts and suggested emendations. Where the Penguin editors are indebted to a previous scholar for a particular emendation they acknowledge it, and where a crux has provoked controversy they indicate it in a brief note. All corrections to the text other than any which are purely typographical are recorded in the ‘Emendations to the Text’.

  Austen’s novels originally appeared in three volumes (with the exception of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, which appeared together in four volumes). To make the original volume arrangements visible in a one-volume format the Penguin Edition has headlines at the top of each page so that in any opening the headline on the left will give the volume and chapter number in the first edition and the headline on the right will give the chapter number in a continuously numbered sequence.

  The bibliographical basis of the Penguin Edition is David Gilson’s Bibliography of Jane Austen (Clarendon, 1982), to which the edition is happy to acknowledge its debt.

  Claire Lamont

  Textual Adviser

  University of Newcastle upon Tyne


  1775 Jane Austen born on 16 December, the second daughter and seventh child of the Revd George Austen and his wife, Cassandra Leigh. Her father was rector of the village of Steventon in Hampshire. The family was well-connected although not rich. Two of her brothers entered the navy and one of them rose to the rank of Admiral of the Fleet.

  1776 American Declaration of Independence.

  1778 Frances Burney published Evelina.

  1785–6 Austen, with her sister Cassandra, attended the Abbey School, Reading.

  1787 Austen started to write the short, parodic pieces of fiction known as her Juvenilia.

  1789 French Revolution broke out.

  1792 Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

  1793 Britain at war with revolutionary France.

  1794 Ann Radcliffe published The Mysteries of Udolpho.

  1795 Austen wrote ‘Elinor and Marianne’, a first version of Sense and Sensibility.

  1796 Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte in France.

  1796–7 Austen wrote ‘First Impressions’, a first version of Pride and Prejudice.

  1797 ‘First Impressions’ offered to a publisher, who refused it.

  1798–9 ‘Susan’, an early version of Northanger Abbey, written.

  1801 Austen’s father retired and the family moved to Bath.

  1802 Austen accepted a proposal of marriage from Harris Bigg-Wither, but changed her mind the following day.

  In France Napoleon appointed Consul for life.

  1803 ‘Susan’ sold for £10 to the publisher Crosby, who did not publish it.

  1804 Austen wrote unfinished novel, ‘The Watsons’.

  Napoleon crowned Emperor.

  1805 Austen’s father died. Battle of Trafalgar.

  1806 Austen moved with her mother and sister to Southampton.

  1809 Austen moved with her mother and sister to a house in the village of Chawton in Hampshire, owned by her brother Edward, which was her home for the rest of her life.

  1811 Sense and Sensibility published.

  Illness of King George III caused the Prince of Wales to be appointed Prince Regent.

  1813 Pride and Prejudice published.

  1814 Mansfield Park published.

  1815 (December) Emma published (dated 1816) and dedicated at his request to the Prince Regent.

  Wellington and Blücher defeat French at the Battle of Waterloo, bringing to an end the Napoleonic Wars.

  1816 Austen’s health started to deteriorate; she finished Persuasion. ‘Susan’ bought back from Crosby. Walter Scott reviewed Emma flatteringly in the Quarterly Review.

  1817 (January–March) Austen at work on ‘Sanditon’. She died on 18 July in Winchester, where she had gone for medical attention, and was buried in Winchester Cathedral. (December) Her brother Henry oversaw the publication of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion (dated 1818), with a biographical notice of the writer.


  New readers are advised that this Introduction

  makes the detail of the plot explicit.

  In each of her six novels Austen provides her heroine with a good marriage, but that of Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice is the most dazzling of all. Of all Austen’s love stories, it is Pride and Prejudice which most comfortably fits the patterns of popular romantic fiction, which is perhaps one reason why Austen herself famously described the novel as ‘rather too light & bright & sparkling’.1 Pride and Prejudice is centrally concerned with personal happiness and the grounds on which it might be achieved, and Elizabeth’s marriage to Darcy – tall, handsome, and rich – is the stuff of wish-fulfilment.

  When Darcy is first seen by Meryton society, at the assembly in the third chapter, he ‘soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien’. Physically, at least, he epitomizes the romantic hero, the ideal object of desire in popular romance fantasy. What’s more, he is reported as having ‘ten thousand a year’, which makes him the object of rather more mercenary desires among those for whom, in the novel’s famous opening words, ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife’ (I, i). But the fortune-hunters – and Elizabeth – are put off when Darcy is ‘discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased’ (I, iii). The inhabitants of Meryton might lose interest, but for the experienced romance reader the story really gets under way with this early confrontation between Darcy’s snobbish indifference and Elizabeth’s angry pride. Darcy’s arrogance only serves to enhance his desirability and confirm his status as hero: as every reader of romantic fiction knows, the heroine will learn to reinterpret the hero’s bad manners, his ‘shocking rudeness’ (I, iii), as a seductive sign of his repressed passion for her. She has the power to transform apparent hostility into lasting commitment and a happy-ever-after marriage.

  In Pride and Prejudice, this process of transformation and seduction is very complex and very subtle. It involves Elizabeth and Darcy in far-reaching reassessments of themselves, and of their social pride and prejudices. Their prospects for happiness are rigorously tested by constant comparison with the situations and expectations of other characters. In this Introduction I shall be focusing primarily on Austen’s immediate social, political and fictional context, and exploring the meanings that Austen’s use of romance might have had for a contemporary audience. But to point out basic structural similarities between Austen’s novel and a Mills and Boon or Harlequin romance is not to reduce Austen’s achievement. Rather, it helps account for the continuing popularity of Austen’s fiction and of Pride and Prejudice in particular. The romantic fantasy which so effectively shapes Austen’s early-nineteenth-century novel is still a powerful cultural myth for readers in the late twentieth century. We still respond with pleasure to the rags-to-riches love story, to the happy ending which combines sexual and emotional attraction with ten thousand a year and the prospect of becoming mistress of Pemberley, a resolution which makes romantic love both the guarantee and the excuse for economic and social success. Romance makes connections across history: it helps us identify and understand the continuities – and the differences – between the novel’s significance at the time it was written and published and the appeal it still has for modern readers.

  The particular appeal of Pride and Prejudice is also due, of course, to its articulate and independent-minded heroine – ‘as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print’, as Austen herself described her.2 An early reviewer noted approvingly that ‘Elizabeth’s sense and conduct are of a superior order to those of the common heroines of novels.’3 The qualities which distinguished Elizabeth from the ‘common heroines’ familiar to contemporary audiences continue to endear her to modern readers. Though she plays her part in a version of the familiar romantic plot, Elizabeth Bennet embodies a very different kind of femininity from that of
the typically passive, vulnerable and child-like romantic heroine; her wit and outspokenness make her the most immediately attractive of all Austen’s female protagonists. Less naïve than Catherine Morland, livelier than Elinor Dashwood or Fanny Price, not such a snob as Emma Woodhouse and younger and more confident than Anne Elliot, Elizabeth Bennet seems to connect most directly with the active, visible, independent identity of modern feminity.

  Importantly, it is the fatal attraction of Elizabeth’s critical intelligence – ‘the liveliness of [her] mind’, and not just her ‘fine eyes’ (III, xviii; I, vi) – which proves even Darcy to be ‘in want of a wife’. From that first meeting, Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s fraught fascination with each other generates a tantalizing sexual energy, an energy which, like Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Rochester later in the century, finds expression in a series of highly articulate confrontations. Elizabeth and Darcy engage in verbal struggles to assert their own definitions of people, principles – and each other. Elizabeth’s satirical sense of humour and sharp intelligence are stimulated and matched by Darcy’s judgemental reserve, his apparent refusal to compromise; his social and moral confidence are challenged by her uncompromising criticism. But by the time Elizabeth admits her love to herself, confrontation has been transformed into an ideal complementarity:

  She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man, who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her. His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes. It was an union that must have been to the advantage of both; by her ease and liveliness, his mind might have been softened, his manners improved, and from his judgment, information, and knowledge of the world, she must have received benefit of greater importance. (III, viii)

  As good readers of romantic fiction, we know long before Elizabeth does that union with Darcy would answer ‘all her wishes’; as modern readers committed to Elizabeth’s independence of mind, we may feel slightly disturbed by the inequality (‘benefit of greater importance’) at the heart of that imagined union. But the narrative momentum of romance demands a happy ending and, supported by the subtlety of Austen’s characterization, makes it very difficult to resist Elizabeth’s longing description of ‘connubial felicity’ (III, viii). Her description stands as the novel’s central definition of its ideal state of ‘rational happiness’ (III, vii): that is, marriage envisaged as a balance of moral and personal qualities, as a fulfilling process of mutual improvement. Austen’s skilful use of romance to shape her detailed analyses of social manners is powerfully persuasive: their capacity for ‘rational happiness’ makes it seem both inevitable and desirable that her exceptional heroine should find fulfilment through a spectacular marriage to her most eligible hero.