Monday, January 28, 2013

HAPPY 200TH BIRTHDAY TO "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE"!


In a good many earlier posts, I've written of the enormous influence of Jane Austen's novels on my entire life.  The words below are excerpted and edited from my post titled. "It's Only a Novel".
As a 16 year old living in a tumultuous household, Jane Austen's novels were balm to my troubled soul. What sparkling wit! No fiction writer is Austen's equal in writing dialogue. What limpid prose! Reading Jane was sheer delight, not to mention that reading her books took me out of myself and out of my environment. After reading the first of her novels, which happened to be Pride and Prejudice, and which is still my favorite although I dearly love them all, I rushed to read the other five. I wanted to be Elizabeth Bennet. I read Jane's novels, and I read them again, and again, and again, up until now, and when I need cleansing and freshening from the load of drivel in print and on the tee-vee, I plunge into the novels and come away refreshed and renewed.  One last thing: I believe that reading Jane Austen's novels in my impressionable teen years contributed for the good to the formation of my moral center, which should give pause to anyone who says, "It's just a novel."

Jane's gift for irony is, to me, unsurpassed. Disclosure: my alcoholic and verbally abusive father had a gift for irony which was not always inflicted on his wife and daughters, and I learned from him to view our mad world through ironic eyes. I owe him for his gifts of books from an early age and for encouraging me to read by always having books and magazines around the house, even when my mother had to borrow grocery money from extended family. We never lacked for music, either. There's irony for you. To this day, I feel sorry for my poor mother's plight, but, in my heart of hearts, I can't regret that the books and music were present.
So.  My tribute to Jane Austen and her lovely novel, originally titled First Impressions, which is 200 years old today, is a rehash but is no less fervent and admiring than if I'd written the words today.

Thanks to MM for sending me the link to an article in The Atlantic, which shows covers of many different editions of P&P that have been published over the years.