Elizabeth Bennet is Austen’s most liberated and unambiguously appealing heroine, and Pride and Prejudice has remained over most of the past two centuries Austen’s most popular novel. The story turns on the marriage prospects of the five daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet: Elizabeth forms a prejudice against the proud and distant Mr. Darcy; Darcy’s charming friend Charles Bingley falls in love with her sister Jane; and the handsome officer George Wickham forms attachments successively to Elizabeth and to her sister Lydia.
Irvine’s extensive introduction sets the novel in the context of the literary and intellectual history of the period, and deals with such crucial background issues as early-nineteenth century class relations in Britain, and female exclusion from property and power. The appendices present an unrivaled selection of background contextual documents.
“Robert Irvine’s edition of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is a wonderfully illuminating text of an often misunderstood classic. Irvine’s introduction is subtle, shrewd, and penetrating, offering a convincing historical and cultural interpretation of Austen’s novel that will help readers to understand its full complexity.” — John Richetti, University of Pennsylvania
“Elizabeth and Darcy come to life—rich, historical life—in this brilliant Broadview edition. Thanks to a compelling introduction and capacious appendices, we can see how their private compromise enacts a public one: old and new wealth merge as the English appropriate their own elite ‘as an aesthetic phenomenon’—an appropriation that transforms national identity into a matter of ‘culture.’ Irvine’s Pride and Prejudice matches a carefully annotated text with a critical frame that synthesizes the seemingly disparate strands—political, socio-economic, feminist—of recent Austen criticism.” — Clifford Siskin, University of Glasgow