January 28, 2013

"It is a truth universally acknowledged..."

Source
Happy 200th Birthday, Pride and Prejudice!

On this day in 1813, Jane Austen's "light, and bright, and sparkling" second novel was published. I'm sure she had no idea that it would become one of the most popular and best loved books in English literature or that it would lead to numerous sequels and spin-offs. 

There are two books that have had the most profound impact on my love for books - shaping me into the reader I am today. One of those is Anne of Green Gables... and the other is Pride and Prejudice.

I think every reader has "that book." It's the book that causes your voice to get high, your eyes to widen and your arms to flail when asked for your opinion on it. You know, the book that you're so enthusiastic about that you almost scare other people away from reading it because your book-thusiasm is so over-the-top that you become a force of nature in your desire to share your love with everyone who asks (and even sometimes those you don't).

Pride and Prejudice has been, is and always will be "that book" for me. It would make my "if you could only have X number of books on a desert island" list every single time. And it's the book I'm most likely to re-read - just to spend a little more time with the characters I know and love so well.

On the surface, it's the story of Elizabeth Bennet. Set in 19th century England, she's the second of five daughters with a mother whose is determined to marry them all off. It's about first impressions, prejudices and pride and the affect each can have on our relationships of all kinds. But it's also so much more than that.

I recently read Celebrating Pride and Prejudice: 200 Years of Jane Austen's Masterpiece, and author Susannah Fullerton explains so much better than I ever could:
"Pride and Prejudice is an invitation: it demands to be talked about. It asks reader today, and readers to come, to enter its world, engage with its characters and issues, find answers for the questions it poses. It makes us think about friendships, about relationships with parents and siblings, about finding happiness in marriage, about demanding employers, about chance and the role it plays in human affairs [...], about clergyman and military men and their role in society, about social rankings, about self-knowledge, about... The list goes on and on. It encourages us to find role models in its finer characters, to strive for self-awareness, to learn how to cope with aggressive bosses or false friends. Human nature has not changed in 200 years and so Pride and Prejudice can still tell us what makes people tick (220)."
I'm so invested in these characters - in their choices, their attractions, their flaws and their futures. Each time I read the book, I always feel a little anxiety at all the misguided first impressions and miscommunications that take place. I know how it all turns out in the end, and I still get swept away by the story.

It's a small story about people in a place just like any other at the time. But Austen takes what may look like a rock and transforms it into a diamond. There may be differing opinions on her place in literature, but I can't think of another classic author who still has such a profound role and impact on our culture today.

Just visit the bookstore and marvel at the number of Austen-inspired books lining the shelves. Search etsy and you'll find thousands of handmade goods paying tribute to Austen, her novels, her characters and her words. There's even a new Austen movie every few years... Our culture is as obsessed with her as I am!

And while every Austen lover has their own favorite of her novels, Pride and Prejudice is mine. Persuasion comes close, but I think I'll always come back to Pride and Prejudice because of the memories I have associated with my reading of this book.

I could throw a little glitter and eat a sweet dessert to celebrate, but I want to do something even more exciting. I'm dedicating this entire week to celebrating my favorite novel! I've got something special in store for every day, and I hope you'll join in on the fun. If you've read and loved it, I hope it inspires you to revisit the novel again soon. If you've read it and didn't love it, I think I just feel sorry for you and maybe just keep that information to yourself. And if you've never read it, I hope this is the push you need to pick it up and fall head over heels in love!

Happy birthday to my favorite novel and a heartfelt thank you to the woman who brought it into the world! 

30 comments:

  1. Oh I LOVE this! I've loved Pride and Prejudice since I read it in the 6th grade and it's pretty much one if my favorite books ever! I can't believe that it has been 200 years!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know - isn't it crazy that a book that is 200 years still has as much influence as P&P does? It's amazing!

      Delete
  2. Pride and Prejudice is that book for me as well! I never ever get sick of it, and I have read it many, many times.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Beautiful post. I'm already planning to re-watching the BBC/A&E miniseries, but I'm starting to think that re-reading the book itself will be unavoidable. It's just so wonderful! Do you watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries? I'm not completely up-to-date, but so far, they're a fun reinterpretation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm planning on re-watching the miniseries, too! Just have to find the perfect day for it because you have to just sit down and watch it all. Too hard to just stop and finish it later! But yes, I also plan to re-read the book this year too. All this celebrating it has made me want to get lost in its pages! And I only recently discovered the Lizzie Bennet Diaries but I'm addicted! SO GOOD!

      Delete
  4. I'd put both Anne and P&P in that list of books for me as well, what a fantastic celebration. =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Heidi, you're a girl after my own heart :) Anne + P&P are some of the best!

      Delete
  5. This is such a lovely post about a novel that I love as well. This sentence is especially fantastic: "You know, the book that you're so enthusiastic about that you almost scare other people away from reading it because your book-thusiasm is so over-the-top that you become a force of nature in your desire to share your love with everyone who asks (and even sometimes those you don't)." I love that feeling of over the top enthusiasm - and wanting to evangelize a book until everyone reads it. GREAT way to sum it up. I think that Persuasion is my favorite, but Pride and Prejudice is a very close second. 200 years later and people are still reading and being blown away by this book and author. THAT is an incredible legacy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thanks Lauren! That's so sweet! Persuasion is actually a very close second for me - I think P&P wins just because of all the memories I have associated with first reading it. And don't you love that feeling of wanting to tell everyone about a book you love? It's the best!

      Delete
  6. This is wonderful, Hannah! I loved that book so much, and I love how you described what it meant to you. I'm looking forward to reading your posts this week and I definitely want to re-read P&P soon! (Especially since I've been watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Have you seen that?!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love the Lizzie Bennet Diaries! It's only a recent discovery for me, but I'm already obsessed with it! And thanks for the sweet words about my post :)

      Delete
  7. FUN! Looking forward to Pride & Prejudice week!

    ReplyDelete
  8. You're making me want to read this book again! I've only read it once (*gasp*), but I loved it when I did. I'm curious to see how I'd feel about it upon a second read, and I certainly hope I get the opportunity to do that. I can't wait to see what you have in store for us this week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I make you want to re-read this, then I definitely consider that a success!

      Delete
  9. Celebrating every day this week? I will definitely be checking back in! Also, "book-thusiasm" is a serously cool word. :)

    Here's my (book-thusiastic) post.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is so cute! I can't wait to get in on the Austen action soon. I can't promise this level of enthusiasm, but I'm thrilled to be starting on my road to Austen soon. :)

    I'm sure this week will be lovely!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha it's okay if you don't have this level of enthusiasm! Either way, I'm just so excited that you'll be getting in on the Austen action :)

      Delete
  11. I love this book and I love that you love this book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I love youuuuuu for loving this book! Woohoo P&P!

      Delete
  12. <3! Persuasion is my favorite, but P&P was my first! Can't wait to see the rest of your posts this week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, Persuasion is actually a close second for me! I think I love P&P more because of my memories associated with first reading it. But Persuasion is such an incredible book!

      Delete
  13. I'm so happy that you're throwing this P&P party this week and I can come, because I haven't had the time to organise a party on my own. :-D But thanks to you I can celebrate anyway! Yeah! I promise to do the washing-up. :-D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha thanks Eszter! Hope you enjoyed all the party festivities :)

      Delete
  14. Yes! "You know, the book that you're so enthusiastic about that you almost scare other people away from reading it because your book-thusiasm is so over-the-top that you become a force of nature in your desire to share your love with everyone who asks (and even sometimes those you don't)." Best description ever!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah thanks, Veronica! Love other bookworms who know that feeling :)

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...