What’s Wrong With Your Date Based On Why He Hasn’t Read Pride & Prejudice

It's 2019 -- there is no excuse.

July 26, 2019 at 8:10 am

Welcome to “What’s Wrong With Your Date Based on Why He Hasn’t Read Pride & Prejudice” — a fun listicle in which I actually use my degree for something! That something being: judging the tastes of all those trashboys you date/have dated.

I mean, I’m sure we’ve all been there: you’re on a first date and you get to talking about books; he mentions how ~deep~ and ~profound~ Russian Literature is and you think he’s cute enough that you can let that slide, but! when you casually mention Jane Austen! then comes the inevitable “No, [he hasn’t] read Pride & Prejudice, actually…” and from that point on, there are a few ways it could go.

This listicle is here to help you decide — is there going to be a second date, or is it time to cut and run? Some reasons are relatively understandable, but some of them might make him the last man in the world whom you could ever be prevailed upon to marry (or even just to see again).

No, but have you read Blood Meridian/Infinite Jest/For Whom the Bell Tolls….”

If he responds by suggesting completely unrelated male authors who offer possibly the exact opposite reading experience as Jane Austen, then he’s probably just trying to make himself sound smart. This is a little pathetic, but it is mostly indicative of the fact that he is a bad listener who is also pretty self-involved. Do not recommend.

I don’t read women writers.”

The state of the world is such that this absolutely bonkers statement continues to come out of the mouths of not one but MANY human people. Hell, when I was in highschool, we had to read Emma over the summer and MULTIPLE PARENTS COMPLAINED that my english teacher was making their sons read Girl books. It’s true that I am an ancient and venerable crone, but I have spent the past quarter-century masquerading in the flesh of a young person, so I can assure you that this was not actually very long ago!! This shit is still happening!! And if you don’t know that “not reading women writers” is an unforgivable offense, now you know.

No, but I did read Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.”

I don’t know how you managed to find a nerd who doesn’t care about source material, but there you have it. What is even the point of engaging with an adaptation if you don’t familiarize yourself with what it’s adapting?? Mostly, this response just means that he might be kind of unwilling to consume media that is not made exclusively for him — might be the kind of person who, I don’t know, gets upset when children’s cartoons with universal appeal continue to be made for children instead of pivoting to cater to an older audience that may or may not be Very vocal about its non-children-appropriate hopes for the show. Might not know what a clitoris is. I’m just saying.

I genuinely just have not gotten around to it.” 

This guy isn’t actively bad. I mean, he probably does not have a driver’s license; he may have never filed his taxes; it’s possible that he would rather live with a wasps’ nest IN HIS HOME than call the landlord. But, his natural inclination is Not to immediately deride even the concept of reading Pride & Prejudice, so he probably at least thinks women are people? This is honestly the best case scenario, sad to say. On the plus side, he might have many other fine qualities, and at least this isn’t necessarily a strike against him.

I often want to criticise Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Everytime I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

If he responds to your recommendation of P&P with this memorized Mark Twain quote, he would rather align himself with a racist, child molester actively advocating for violence against women (dead or not) than try reading a Girl Book For Girls. I mean, his AIM away message was probably a John Lennon quote. He thinks video game youtubers have some really good questions about ethics in games journalism. Run, don’t walk.

Look: the vast majority of men have not read Pride & Prejudice. I had to read A Clockwork Orange and The Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies — so many Boy Books for Boys that either actively hate women or just ignore our personhood altogether; and yet so many men in this world will forever miss out on the joy of knowing that Northanger Abbey absolutely Fucks. I mean, literally one of the things that makes Henry Tilney from NA such a dreamboat is that he has actually read and enjoyed novels — the 19th century equivalent of Girl Books for Girls. I guess that’s just the way it is; but, it shouldn’t be.

I’m not saying that everyone has to read Jane Austen’s entire body of work (literally no one needs to read Mansfield Park), but Pride & Prejudice is objectively foundational to modern storytelling. It’s not JUST that it is a cultural touchstone, as important to our collective engagement with and understanding of the idea of romantic archetypes as Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan — it’s that Pride & Prejudice is a technically perfect narrative! Literally EVERY. SINGLE. THING that happens in P&P furthers the plot. There is no extraneous information, no piece of the puzzle out of place; it is a complex, efficient, and unfailing machine! The craftsmanship is absolutely astounding, and so many wannabe writers who refuse to “read books written by women” are missing out on the very important lessons it has to teach!

What's Wrong With Your Date Based On Why He Hasn't Read Pride & Prejudice -- Nabokov Says DUMP HIM
Nabokov loves P&P. Nabokov says DUMP HIM.

So, even if most of the men who should read Pride & Prejudice may not care about the importance and cultural universality of a good romcom, there is absolutely no argument to be made against the fact that it is a good story well told.

But really my point here is this: if you’re on a date and you start talking about something you like, and the person you’re with immediately derides, dismisses, or deflects, then maybe you shouldn’t be with them; if the person you’re with doesn’t take an interest in the things you like, doesn’t ask you questions in good faith about why certain media is important to you, then maybe it’s time that you ask for the check.

We put up with a lot in this world, but pretending that Pride & Prejudice is bad shouldn’t be one of them.

Jenny Mott

Jenny is just a Silly Nerd with a lot of Feelings about Comic Books and Friendship and also This Capitalist Yoke We All Share; she enjoys Dogs and Sleeping and Cartoons. Her three favorite words are: Breakfast All Day.