By Jane, Actually
It is with considerable confusion that I write of the Thug Notes analysis of Pride and Prejudice that was recently brought to my attention. I do appreciate the meta-ness (as my avatar Mary Crawford called it) of a black man purporting to be a “gangsta” giving an insightful analysis of my novel of manners.
Sparky Sweets, PhD, if that is his real name, delivers a very quick description of the plot in colourful vernacular, which to me is rendered even more colourfully for I must enable YouTube captions in order to comprehend it. The resultant translation is almost incomprehensible. I must equate “dossey” with Darcy and “welcome” with Wickham in order to understand it.
Fortunately I maintain a service that employs a human translator to transcribe video and within a few hours, I was able to read a more realistic translation, although much still remained a mystery. Nevertheless I realized that Mr Sweets gave a workmanlike description of the plot and the characters, although much is understandably lost in a video lasting a mere four minutes and thirteen seconds. Simply calling Mr Collins “a rich preacher man” loses so many levels that I despair.
Mr Sweets’ analysis of the central theme of my novel is … well I can only make sense of it in a general way. He does say “moral blindness and self knowledge” are central themes and that is certainly true, but he also adopts the simplistic view shared by many that Darcy represents Pride and Elizabeth represents Prejudice. Or perhaps he is simply forced to take such a simple view because of his limited time.
Let me now return to my original comment that I am confused by this video. I am a long-dead member of the poor gentry of a once powerful country that simultaneously governed, despoiled, civilised and oppressed much of the world. I am unqualified to pass judgement on the appropriateness of a seemingly intelligent young black man pretending to be something he most likely is not giving his opinion of a work of fiction that some have been kind enough consider to be a hallmark of English literature.
I am unqualified to judge whether Mr Sweets’ presentation might actually induce someone to read my book (or any of the other books he has selected). I cannot say whether his offering does a service or a disservice to the impression or stereotype of young black men. My first impression was that this video is an unfortunate choice, but I think my feelings on first impressions are well know. The very fact that these videos have awakened such complicated thoughts is probably proof that there is some merit to this approach.
Or perhaps, and I say this with a slowing dawning epiphany, maybe I make too much fuss about something that is merely meant as a light-hearted entertainment.