Good morning, friends! I hope you enjoyed the weekend! Alas, it’s moan Monday, but here’s some good news: today marks the marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
What—you don’t know the anniversary of one of your favorite books?
Yes, I’ve read this novel more times than I can count, and this book seems to get better and better each time. Even though I liked Pride and Prejudice when I finished it for the first time in middle school, I definitely grew to appreciate it after each subsequent reading; there’s no better way to start high school Christmas break or college winter break than paging through a favorite book.
Even though the story takes place in the 19th century, Austen’s text defines timelessness. Elizabeth Bennet is one of my favorite literary heroines, and I relate to her on so many levels. Pride and Prejudice contains so many timeless characters—I know people who so closely resemble Mary Bennet and Charlotte Lucas it’s scary—and fortunately or unfortunately, there was a George Wickham-esque character during my high school days. (Interestingly, it took me a while to make the connection—I felt like I knew him from somewhere, yet couldn’t put my finger on it—so I didn’t make the Wickham distinction right away. However, this dude eventually proved to be a 21st century, high school version of this character.) So, even though Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice two centuries ago, the characters she crafted proved to be universal, timeless, and totally spot-on—you go, Jane!
Just a Jane Austen doll at The Strand. Totally normal, right?
Anyway, I have no probably admitting that I’m a Janeite—“the self-consciously idolatrous enthusiasm for ‘Jane’ and every detail relative to her”—so it should come as no surprise that after my high school graduation, my parents and I traveled to London, and we also visited Bath for a few days, mainly to visit the Jane Austen Centre.
My mom and I were in heaven, and my dad was such a trooper! Although he did “read” Northanger Abbey—at least every other page.
In college, I even took a class titled “Jane Austen in Film.” (Liberal arts institution for the win!) We read a bunch of her books—including Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park—and then watched and analyzed their film adaptations. Oh, and we also took a country ball dancing class.
Dancing might not seem challenging, but I was a hot, sweaty, and confused mess by the end! During Austen’s days, dancing and attending balls allowed young people to interact with each other—away from the watchful eyes chaperones. Plus, an individual’s proficiency on the dance floor was thought to be directly related to how good of a spouse they would be. (Remember how Mr. Collins royally messes up and proves to be an embarrassment?) After taking this class, I couldn’t imagine looking presentable (aka not sweaty), dancing gracefully, and engaging in witty banter. Talk about pressure! Although I would solider through the above if I got to wear one of those gorgeous dresses.
And speaking of dancing, the Netherfield Ball is set to take place this spring. Anyone want to go?
Of course, going to a ball brings up the dividing question among Pride and Prejudice fans: Who’s your Mr. Darcy—Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen?
Have you read any of Jane Austen’s classics? Which novel is your favorite? Who’s your favorite literary heroine?