Core Readings: Lit Hum Instructor Nick Dames reads Austen
Nicholas Dames, professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia, reads three selections from Pride & Prejudice.
Is happiness an inward state or a matter of outward conditions? Do we have a right, even a duty, to strive for happiness? Or is “pursuit of happiness” a form of self-indulgence?
In his reading, Dames shows how three of Austen’s female characters — Charlotte Collins, Elizabeth Bennett and Lady Catherine de Bourgh — give divergent answers to these “potentially revolutionary” questions. Austen herself, meanwhile, points up the subjective nature of happiness by refusing to to take sides.
Vol. 1, Ch. 22. Charlotte accepts Mr. Collins’s proposal.
Vol. 3, Ch. 2. Elizabeth evaluates her feelings about Darcy and his proposal to her.
Vol. 3, Ch 13. Lady de Bourgh argues with Elizabeth about the prospect of the latter marrying her nephew.