Illustration of The Kiss, from a note card by Janet Taylor
This has been a heady week of Pride and Prejudice blitz from the media and bloggers celebrating the 200th anniversary of its publication on Monday, January 28, 2013. There have been so many articles, interviews, read-a-thons, television news segments, and Internet chat about Jane Austen’s “darling child” that even this confessed Austen obsessive is overwhelmed and unable to keep up with all of the festivities. I was shocked to hear another Austenesque author tell me that she was sick of it. “What?” I exclaimed incredulously. “No! This is great for Jane’s fame and for authors,” I told her defensively. She shrugged and agreed.
It is very gratifying to me to see my favorite author so amply admired by so many and honored by scholars and the media. In a world filled with so much uncertainty and unrest, Pride and Prejudice is indeed a truth universally acknowledged. I think it will be around and venerated as long as people value pithy dialogue, intelligent, spunky heroines, honorable heroes, and compelling love stories. If I had to narrow down why it is my favorite novel, I would say because it is such a chameleon: after repeated annual readings over thirty plus years, I always come to the final passage with some new insight and a calming satisfaction that some things in life are constant.
Here is my roundup of favorite #PandP200 articles:
Our friend and Jane Austen Made Me Do It short story contributor Jane Odiwe is interviewed by the BBC. Jane, the author of four Austen-inspired novels, and numerous illustrations of her favorite Austen characters and scenes, admits to being obsessed with Jane Austen to the world. Brave, Jane. We love you!
“To mark the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice, novelists, moviemakers and scholars are releasing a flood of new homages to cash in on the bottomless appetite for all things Austen.” The Wall Street Journal interviews Austen authors Sharon Lathan and Paula Byrne, publishers Oxford University Press, HarperFiction and Sourcebooks, scholars Juliette Wells and Claudia Johnson, and fan Meredith Esparza for this extensive article about Austen’s enduring appeal. Wowza! It got a full page spread in the print edition. Go #TeamJane!
There are thousands of editions of P&P (it seems) and we love to discover cover designs, old and new. This article in the The Atlantic Wire shares many of the good, the bad, and the horrid, including ones that I included in a post My Top Ten Pride and Prejudice Covers that I wrote in 2010. I guess I was ahead of the trend.
Like this is a surprise? The Telegraph (UK newspaper) offers up this cream puff of a piece on a truth already universally acknowledged by any Janeite worth their weight in syllabub. *yawn* We still like seeing wet shirt Darcy and enjoyed the history of his on screen persona thank you very much!
Professor Karen O’Brien, Austen expert, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) and Professor of English Literature at the University of Birmingham, explains why Pride and Prejudice’s appeal has spanned two centuries – and is still growing.
Pride and Prejudice is an enduring classic because it is really about the human instinct to pursue happiness, to insist that happiness is something we are all entitled to (no matter what the Lady Catherine de Bourghs of this world tell us) and to believe that those who are generous, affectionate and self-aware stand the best chance of becoming happy.
The love story is fundamentally about that path to self-awareness, and how a genuinely intimate relationship is a mutual journey in which we come to know ourselves, each other and the world.
We are reminded of Austen’s rub of Birmingham in Emma. I think they have forgiven her.
How would the Netherfield ball play out on Twitter? Austenesque author Lynn Shepherd’s delightful imaginings of a Twitter feed if the Bennet girls could tweet and Darcy could DM. Even Mr. Collins has his say. How he condensed his flowery soliloquies down to 140 characters is quite a feat.
A video look at Chatsworth House, the famous grand manor in Derbyshire that many believe was Jane Austen’s inspiration for Pemberley, Mr. Darcy’s estate in Pride and Prejudice. Ooo, we are always awed by its magnificence and are reminded of this passage from chapter 43:
Elizabeth’s mind was too full for conversation, but she saw and admired every remarkable spot and point of view. They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; and in front a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!
BBC News interviewed Janeites and scholars about the phenomenon of Pride and Prejudice and Jane’s fame here in America including blog mistress and author Myretta Robens of The Republic of Pemberley, professor of English Literature at Princeton University and esteemed Austen scholar Claudia L Johnson, and me. Yes, you read that correctly. ME. In our best imitation of Mr. Collins, we were very humbled that the esteemed BBC condescended to interview us on such an auspicious occasion.
Which—leads me to my own personal Pride and Prejudice 200 encounter at work on Wednesday with a non-Janeite sent on an errand by his teenage daughter.
Customer: Do you have a copy of Pride and Prejudice?
Me: *smiles* Why yes, we have several editions. Is this a gift or for yourself?
Customer: It’s for my 14-year old daughter who has never had an interest in reading classics before. She gave me this news article and asked for this book too, written by some Jane Austen cultist who lives in our hometown of Snohomish.
Me: *Nods in stunned silence. Looks at article.* Yes, I am familiar with the article and the book.
Customer: Really? What a coincidence!
Me: Monday was the bicentenary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice. It was all over the media and television. *walks customer over to Austen shelf in fiction and then to anthologies for Jane Austen Made Me Do It.
Customer: *points at cover of Jane Austen Made Me Do It* Do you know anything about this book?
Me: *pregnant pause* I do. I am the Jane Austen cultist who lives in Snohomish.
Customer: *Stares in stunned silence and then laughs loudly*
Me: *calmly smiles* I hope she enjoys both books!
Customer: *still laughing, he nods his thanks and walks away*
Happy bicentenary Pride and Prejudice!
If you would like to continue the celebration with us here at Austenprose, please join The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013. We are reading Jane Austen’s classic and many Austen-inspired sequels, viewing movie adaptations and other diverting entertainments with great giveaway prizes all year long.
© 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose