Unfortunately an only son (for many years an only child), I was spoilt by my parents, who, though good themselves (my father, particularly, all that was benevolent and amiable), allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing; to care for none beyond my own family circle; to think meanly of all the rest of the world; to wish at least to think meanly of their sense and worth compared with my own.
Such I was, from eight to eight and twenty; and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous.
Sittenfeld’s cleverest move may be working a reality-TV dating show into her story.
And watching Liz straddle Darcy in bed for a rousing session of what they call “hate sex” won’t get us there either. Bennet is a snob, a homophobe, a racist and an anti-Semite, but she’s got the right idea when she says, “I’ve always far preferred a good book.” We already have that book.
“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!
Other translations to our modern times are equally as creative: Artificial insemination and sex reassignment surgery add complications inconceivable to a society once determined by primogeniture laws. Tedious Cousin William is now a tedious Web programmer.
As a long game of literary Mad Libs, “Eligible” is undeniably delightful. And Darcy’s notorious marriage proposal sounds hilariously rude in the sterile language of his medical mind: “It’s probably an illusion caused by the release of oxytocin during sex,” he tells Lizzy, “but I feel as if I’m in love with you.” Who could resist that?
If you’re concerned about zombies — and let’s face it, who isn’t? Over the past two centuries, her novels have endured an inexorable horde of adaptations that would have ripped the covers off any lesser works.