"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." So begins Pride and Prejudice,Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners--one of the most popular novels of all time--that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the "most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author's works," and Eudora Welty in the twentieth century described it as "irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be."No novel in English has given more pleasure than Pride and Prejudice. Because it is one of the great works in our literature, critics in every generation reexamine and reinterpret it. But the rest of us simply fall in love with it and with its wonderfully charming and intelligent heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. We are captivated not only by the novel s romantic suspense but also by the fascinations of the world we visit in its pages. The life of the English country gentry at the turn of the nineteenth century is made as real to us as our own, not only by Jane Austen s wit and feeling but by her subtle observation of the way people behave in society and how we are true or treacherous to each other and ourselves. "