Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)
[Love: Classics/Historical Fiction/Adult]
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
A personal truth I must acknowledge is that, any book taught to me in high school English by one Dafydd James-Williams is one that I will love unconditionally.
Teenage-teacher-idolising aside, the discovery of Pride and Prejudice marked the beginning of my passion for regency novels, period drama and Colin Firth. Oh and Jane Austen, a god among novelists.
UCL English Professor (woo UCL) and Guardian writer John Mullan credits Jane Austen with “having created the most archly amusing woman in fiction in Pride and Prejudice” and also say she “was the first novelist with the technical virtuosity to take you into the thoughts of her characters while also letting you laugh at them.”
While it’s true that I haven’t had the fortune of meeting any men who share my devotion to Austen (hit me up if you are reading this) I abhor the use of the label ‘Chick-Lit’ to describe her work.
Yes, all of Austen’s protagonists are women and her plots map out these women’s quest to establish themselves in society, which at the time could only be done by marriage. What I love so much about Austen is that she creates female characters that are admirable for their strength, intelligence and passion, not for their apparent beauty, elegance or delicate nature. In a way, she championed the idea of the female intellectual.
Austen’s work also has literary value outside the realm of romances-with-impossibly-happy-endings and female-empowerment, and that is in her hilarious social commentaries and caricatures. The characters we despair of have become just as much archetypes as the ones we love.
It is that crossover of beautiful romance and amusing satire that makes Pride and Prejudice one of the country’s (/world’s) eternally recreated, adapted and beloved novels.
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”