Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ten literary lessons in love

"In our quest to reach romantic nirvana, we turn to self-help manuals, daytime TV, magazines, talk shows, friends, relatives, and shrinks," notes the publisher's description of Much Ado About Loving: What Our Favorite Novels Can Teach You About Date Expectations, Not So-Great Gatsbys, and Love in the Time of Internet Personals by Jack Murnighan and Maura Kelly, "But we’ve forgotten a far better source of wisdom: the timeless stories written by the great novelists."

Christian Science Monitor contributor Molly Driscoll collected ten literary lessons in love from the Murnighan-Kelly volume, including:
Pride and Prejudice

In Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth Bennet and her sister Jane are excited to meet their new neighbor Mr. Bingley and his friend, Mr. Darcy. Jane and Bingley instantly fall for one another, but Lizzy is put off by Mr. Darcy's rudeness – until he learns to get over his arrogance, at which point Lizzy falls in love with him. But Murnighan and Kelly say that there could be a problem with the message that some readers may take from this novel. The idea that anyone who acts like a jerk is probably just misunderstood, they say, is a dangerous one. Even if someone seems to have changed, say the authors, you should require a lot of evidence before you believe it. And if someone's mean to everyone else and nice only to you, that could be the sign of a manipulative character.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families, Cathy Cassidy's top ten list of stories about sisters, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked clerics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best housekeepers in fiction, ten great novels with terrible original titles, and ten of the best visits to Brighton in literature, Luke Leitch's top ten list of the most successful literary sequels ever, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer. Richard Price has never read it, but it is the book Mary Gordon cares most about sharing with her children.

The Page 99 Test: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

--Marshal Zeringue