200 Years of Pride & Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s classic story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, was first published on 28 January 1813 – 200 years ago.
P & P has become one of the most popular novels in English literature and continues to receive attention from literary scholars.
Modern interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen’s memorable characters or themes.
To date the book has sold some 20 million copies worldwide.
“Pride and Prejudice is also about that thing that all great novels consider, the search for self. And it is the first great novel to teach us that that search is as surely undertaken in the drawing room making small talk as in the pursuit of a great white whale or the public punishment of adultery.” ~ Anna Quindlen
In 2003 the BBC conducted the largest ever poll for the “UK’s Best-Loved Book” in which Pride and Prejudice came second, behind The Lord of the Rings. In a 2008 survey of more than 15,000 Australian readers, Pride and Prejudice came first in a list of the 101 best books ever written.
I wonder how many young readers have read Pride & Prejudice (or any Austen for that matter)? With its themes of class and position, love and marriage, status and money does it still have relevance in todays’ modern world? A lot has changed in the world over the past 200 years. But a heck of lot has stayed the same.
If you haven’t read it I recommend you do. Or at the very least, encourage young readers to do so. Yeah, it’s soppy 200-year old chick-lit stuff, but we need to keep the art of writing and the pleasure of reading alive.
Give the classics a fighting chance against the mindlessness of modern reality television and the bollocks that passes for writing amongst teenagers on Facebook and Twitter.