Monday, January 28, 2013

Happy Birthday, Pride and Prejudice!


It is a truth universally acknowledged that Pride and Prejudice is a bomb-ass book.

Today is the two hundredth birthday of one of the most seminal novels in all of history: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. And even though this is a YA blog, I feel compelled to celebrate this momentous occasion, because few books have ever personally affected me like Jane Austen has.


I may have mentioned this once or twice or a million times, but I am an Austen nut. And the amazing thing is, so are so many people. There are thousands of Jane Austen inspired Pinterest boards, fanfiction accounts, novel series, movies, crafts, going literally on and on forever. I mean, Jane Austen herself is on FACEBOOK. The thing about Jane Austen books is that people don't just read them and enjoy them; they want to crawl inside and live them. It's not just me, either: series like Lost in Austen prove this is a fantasy for a lot of people. We even like it with zombies added.


It's not just the world, though. People are still drawn to the story even when it's taken out of historical context, because P&P is probably the most brilliant and plotty of all of Jane's novels (I say Jane like we're best buds, BECAUSE WE ARE), which is way updates such as Bridge Jones' Diary and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries exist.

META!

People argue that Jane Austen's books were too light, too narrow, too limited. Of course those people are idiots who should never be trusted to speak again. Perhaps they have a point. But I've always thought that within her scope-- upper middle class British country life-- she manages quite a lot. Her range isn't wide, but it's deep. She understands all the vagaries of human nature, their idiosyncrasies and their desires. People always pit her against the Brontes (Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre), who were all gothic this and melodramatic that, and say, "Austen doesn't know PASSION. No descriptions! No mad wives in the attic! No action!"

But boy, do I think they're wrong. It's a different kind of passion, a clearer, more realistic view of love, dealing with the only themes that mattered at all in Jane Austen's time: getting married. One could argue that the tiny, understated actions that Mr. Darcy takes-- inviting Elizabeth to meet his sister, plunging off to London to hunt down the perfidious Wickham all in seeeeecret-- are some of the most romantic moments in literature.

 

Plus, Jane was quite a modern lady. She was modern, and witty, and while hardly a revolutionary, not only depicts strong ladies of character, but social mobility in her novels. True, it's all gained through MARRYING UP, but still. There's a reason Elizabeth is the most beloved of all her heroines (and the inspiration for my middle name. Now you know what the e in my url means! Because some evil alt-Gillian Berry out there was already using Gillian Berry dot BlogSpot.). It's hard not to love a spunky, brilliant, flawed character who's willing to grow even in the most painful ways. We all want to be Elizabeth. We all learn with her. She's not a bland, idealized heroine, like most female characters were in that era (see Camilla, Pamela, etc.). She's real.

Plus she likes book so obviously she's the best

And then there is the delightful Darcy. Sigh. Misunderstood, painfully shy, yet full of pride both necessary and excessive. Tall, rich, beautiful, and OH. SO. IN. LOVE. I think that's what truly so appealing about him-- how much he loves Elizabeth, his opposite in nearly every way. He's really just but a big old socially uncomfortable softie under that brooding exterior.

image

So that's only a little sliver about why I love Pride and Prejudice, besides the fact that it taught me to read, bonded me with my mother, and inspired MANY A CRAFT PROJECT that I maybe will share when my camera gets in working order. Here are some links to help you celebrate this special day and this special book. Even those of you who have yet to read it can enjoy these.

Pride and Prejudice told through Facebook

12 Facts you probably didn't know about Pride and Prejudice

One of many Jane Austen-inspired Etsy shops, and my personal fave (I WANT those Darcy proposal mugs)

My Jane Austen-tatious Pinterest board! Still in its early stages.

REGENCY RECIPES!

The BBC recreated the Netherfield ball and I am bummed I wasn't there.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments. Who is your Definitive Darcy? (I'm Team Firth). And Elizabeth? (I like Kiera). Why do you love P&P? Why do you not? Why haven't you gotten around to reading it yet? How many copies do you own? (Five. Yes, FIVE.)

8 comments:

  1. Ooh, I LOVE this post. Happy Birthday, Pride and Prejudice! The people who don't care for P&P are out of their mind. Seriously. They need their head examined and I'm not exactly sure if I should trust them. I read the book once in about middle school and since I saw the movie first, I wasn't crazy about the book, but I've been meaning to read it ASAP. Movie characters wise? Allllll from the new version. Keira and Matthew!

    But I'm so happy Austen lived and wrote such wonderful pieces. The world would be a scary place without them or their movie versions.

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    1. Indeed! And you definitely SHOULD reread the book! I love the newer adaptation, but it does deviate tonally from the book, which could be why it was weird for you. The movie is kind of romantic with sweeping landscapes, and the book is full of dry humor, dialogue, and very spare descriptions.

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  2. Matthew McFayden is my favorite. Colin Firth is... fine, but I saw him as the awkward dad in What A Girl Wants first, so that's all I see. And Kiera Knightley was awesome.

    I must admit that I believe Elizabeth Gaskell to be Jane Austen 5.0 (SO AWESOME), but I'll always love and adore dear Jane.

    Oh, and Gil, have you ever read the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series by Pamela Aidan? It's a trilogy telling P&P from Darcy's POV, and it's the best one I've ever read. It's DESTROY ME for Darcy fans!

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    1. Must. Read. That. Now. I've tried a lot of P&P retellings/sequels, and most are pretty horrible, with some outstanding exceptions. I'd LOVE to read a good one.

      LOOOOOOVE Elizabeth Gaskell. She deserves to be as recognized as Jane Austen.

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  3. Colin Firth is my Darcy, however; Laurence Olivier is my first screen Darcy. I do like Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth...Kiera just doesn't do it for me.

    I'm loving all the P&P posts bloggers have been doing. It's nice to see the impact of Austen on people's lives and I wish she could see the influence of her books in our society. I was part of an Austen P&P celebration Blog Hop and I wrote an open letter to Jane: http://wp.me/p2Zvsk-cg

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  4. Me and Jane have some issues over semi-colons, but otherwise I love her. I love, love, LOVE what she wrote. I loaned my bestie my super awesome huge novel full of her stories and he didn't get it of course. I guess you have to be a romantic and a fan of history (or at least willing to accept history for what it is) to really appreciate where Jane was coming from.

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    1. Oh my God, I LOVE that: "at least willing to accept history for what it is". It perfectly encapsulates part of why people are drawn to Jane Austen!

      And yes, her semi colons. A few errant commas, two. But there grammar was a little funky two hundred years ago.

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  5. FIVE copies? Why on Earth do you need that many?
    And I have mixed feelings on the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. On one hand, it's amazing. On the other, I like their Lydia more than their Elizabeth which makes me feel like a traitor >_>

    On that note, I'm gonna go finish up Emma now...

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