'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen

'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen
Everything great has a way of perpetually fascinating us, and though it may seem hard to be fascinated by the same thing over and over again, it’s actually not. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, published in 1813, is fascinating in more senses than one. It’s not only because this novel remains relevant regardless of the huge gap between our world and Austen’s: after all, every great book is relevant despite having more or less nothing to do with our present condition. 

What’s really amazing is that the first draft of this novel was completed when Austen was 21. Things like that are capable of making us both depressed and glad; “Pride and Prejudice” may well be one of the books that shape our perceptions of love and dignity and social rules and culture. All that, and probably more, is embedded in a universally familiar story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darsy, who are destined for each other but have to come to realize and to accept it. 

From the very beginning— from the first moment, I may almost say— of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry. 

“Pride and Prejudice” was Austen’s second novel, published after the first one, “Sense and Sensibility,” had proved to be successful. The book was advertised, it was well received and it sold well; a second edition followed the same year. It was immediately translated into French, German, Danish, and Swedish. Yet almost nothing predicted that this novel would become one of the most influential works of fiction known to us. A modern critic argued that “Pride and Prejudice” was about that thing that all great novels considered, the search for self and it was the first great novel that taught us this search was 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. Scholars turned their attention to Austen around the 1940s, by which time she had enough distinguished admirers; the poet W.H. Auden wrote in 1937:

You could not shock her more than she shocks me,
Beside her Joyce seems innocent as grass.
It makes me most uncomfortable to see
An English spinster of the middle class
Describe the amorous effects of 'brass',
Reveal so frankly and with such sobriety
The economic basis of society.

“Pride and Prejudice” must reveal something else, not only the economic basis of society, otherwise it wouldn’t have become such a huge part of our life. 10 movies based on it are evidence enough, but even more impressive is the list of books influenced by it: there are hundreds of them. As one can imagine, not all of them seem to have much in common with “Pride and Prejudice”, nor do they have to: influence works in mysterious ways and sometimes produces curious results. Thanks to a crowd of imaginative Austen lovers, we can revisit her story altered by murder, sex, and zombies, to take a look at it from Mr. Darcy’s point of view, and to see what happens to his five daughters. Source: Article

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