Happy 200th Birthday, Pride & Prejudice!

Yesterday was the 200th anniversary of the publication of my favorite book of all time, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I am ill-qualified to write anything that will do justice to the book, Jane Austen and its enduring place in literature, pop-culture and the hearts of millions of women (and some men) the world over. So, instead, I’ve rounded up, from all over the interwebs, my favorite bits and pieces to celebrate the day Jane Austen gave us the gift of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy:

  • No surprise that The New Yorker’s tribute is wonderfully written and lovely. In what is a very quick read, William Deresiewicz manages to touch on the history of P&P‘s publishing, other legendary authors’ reaction to Austen and the book (Charlotte Brontë and Mark Twain hated her, Virginia Woolf called her “the most perfect artist among women, the writer whose books are immortal”), the dearth of information on Austen’s life and why we still love Pride & Prejudice so much, after all this time.

  • Because I liked that New Yorker article so much I clicked through to the link to Deresiewicz’s book, “A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter.” As if that title wasn’t enough, the book description sold me:

“Before Jane Austen, William Deresiewicz was a very different young man. A sullen and arrogant graduate student, he never thought Austen would have anything to offer him. Then he read Emma—and everything changed.”

If that doesn’t convince an Austen fan to buy this book, I don’t know what will.

  • This Conde Nast Traveler slideshow on the stately homes, towns and gardens all over the UK that were used as settings for either the BBC miniseries or the 2005 movie reminded me that I need to start saving for that trip to the UK. Chatsworth has been on my bucket list since, you guessed it, 2005.

  • If you need a quick reminder of what the story is about then here’s P&P  illustrated as a comic. I actually want a printout of this to pin on to my office desk cork board.
  • And again, via NPR, what is ostensibly a review of an Austen biography of sorts. What I liked about this particular article, though, has nothing to do with the book being reviewed (no offense to the author of both the book and the review). I liked the story about Albert the orangutan and the author’s thoughts on who Jane Austen would be pals with if she were alive right now (clue: one of them hosted the Golden Globes this year and the other one won two).
  • The Week’s roundup of the most bizarre retellings and reincarnations of Austen’s story is so, well, bizarre, that Seth Grahame-Smith’s zombified edition doesn’t even make the cut.  But a Twilight-esque treatment, a retelling in the “dialect of the American South” and a “Wild and Wanton” edition (Austen must be rolling in her grave) do. If I were Jane Austen, I don’t know if I’d be flattered or offended.
  • And now for a bit of shameless self-promotion. I didn’t write this for the 200th anniversary of course, but if ever you were wondering what I thought was the definitive Pride and Prejudice adaptations, here’s my sometimes rambling comparison (part one, two and three) of  the BBC production and the 2005 movie by Joe Wright. I wrote this a couple of years ago and have re-watched both since, and, instead of changing my mind, I now even feel more strongly about what I wrote. I’d love to hear what YOU think.

And so there you have it, a mishmash of the commemorations of 200 years of Pride and Prejudice. William Deresiewicz couldn’t have said it any better:

“Two hundred years—the bicentennial. Send in the tall ships. Set off the fireworks. Darcy and Elizabeth forever.”

Click the photos for their sources.

Feel free to let me know what you think!

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