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.  

13 comments:

  1. Pride And Prejudice is decidedly Southern Gothic in tone. So it doesn't surprise me that it speaks to you who are also decidedly Southern Gothic at times.

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    1. Moi, Southern Gothic? What a thought! Have you read P&P, MadPriest? I would not have thought it was your sort of reading choice.

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    2. Southern Gothic? I would have thought the Brontes filled that bill (Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre, respectively)

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  2. Definitely close to the top of my top ten list. And even though there are excellent movies of P&P, none of them will ever come close to Miss Austen's written word.

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    1. Amen to that, Tim. I already know JA is your sort of reading. :-)

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    2. You might enjoy this column by Paula Simons in our Edmonton Journal today:

      http://www2.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/cityplus_alberta/story.html?id=2cdfce32-cfa2-468f-a091-9ef7677f0f28

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    3. Imagine! The first edition circulated until 25 years ago. Very interesting, Tim.

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  3. Fresh Air had this fun story today, too: http://www.npr.org/2013/01/28/170158889/jane-austens-pride-and-prejudice-at-200

    Money quote:

    it's Austen's smart-girl voice: peppery, wry, eye rolling — that seems so close to modern consciousness. Austen could be gal pals with Tina Fey and Lena Dunham; she talks to us directly, bridging time and custom.

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    1. Well JCF, I hope Jane would like me if we met.

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  4. Libby Ann, one of the atheist posters over at patheos, had a post recently on Mr. Collins proposal to Elizabeth
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2013/01/worse-than-an-unbeliever-an-atheist-grapples-with-the-bible/
    where Mr. Collins refuses to accept that 'no' means no.

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    1. Erp, your link was to another post, but I Googled and found the post by Libby Ann. Mr Collins is my favorite ironic clergy character in fiction, but Libby Ann uses him well to make her point about the culture of rape...that when a woman says no, it does not really mean no.

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  5. You perhaps will find interesting this featured article on Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reception_history_of_Jane_Austen

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    1. Thanks, Russ. My goodness! Such attention, but all-deserving, as I see it.

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