…that this month marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice!
And yet I have NEVER read the book.
When it was first published in 1813, the book was well-received, and everyone seemed to love it right away. Well, everyone except for Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre, who apparently called the book “a disappointment” with “no open country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no bonny beck”, whatever the hell that means. But despite it having no “bonny beck”, the book is more popular than ever after two-hundred years, with countless movies and shows and other works of literature devoting themselves to Austen’s wit and wonder.
And yet I have NEVER read the book.
I know, I know. Fellow readers think there must be something wrong with me. How have I made it through the past 33 years of my life without picking up Pride and Prejudice, or any Jane Austen book for that matter? How dare I call myself a reader when I haven’t read one of the greatest?
And I’m not just throwing out the word “greatest” just for the fun of it. In 2003, Pride and Prejudice was voted second (only behind Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings…duh…) as the UK’s Best-Loved Book. And in 2008 in an Australian poll, it was voted number one in the 101 Best Books Ever Written.
So apparently people kind of love this book. So ask me again why I haven’t read it?
Well, in all honesty, I just never got the urge. It’s one of those “I-have-to-be-in-the-right-mood” books, and I guess I’ve just never been in the right mood. I’ve seen two movie versions of it – the BBC one with Colin Firth and the big screen one from 2005 with Keira Knightley – and apparently I figured that was enough for me.
But you know what? I should just read the damn book. It’s celebrating its BICENTENNIAL, for crying out loud, and frankly, it just deserves to be read. Plus, since I’m changing up my reading habits this year, it’s the perfect time to delve into the world of Jane Austen.
This bicentennial stuff is a pretty big deal. Countless celebrations will be happening at libraries and bookstores around the world this month, and the BBC is actually recreating a Regency Ball – like the Netherfield Ball that occurs in the book – and televising it in the spring. Tourism to Austenish places like Bath will likely be given a boost due to the bicentennial. And millions of people will most likely pick up the book and give it another read. Or a first read. Like me.
So last night I headed to the library to find an edition of P & P that looked exciting to read. I actually own the book – I bought it years ago when Barnes & Noble was having a “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” on classic paperbacks, and I just grabbed it because I needed to pick out a free one. So why don’t I want to read the one I have? Because it’s a boring paperback with tiny letters, and I can totally see myself not wanting to pick it up for that reason. I want to hold a pretty cover in my hands. An updated cover. Not some uninspiring paperback B & N Classics cover that does absolutely nothing for me.
Yes, I am a book cover snob. Deal.
So anyway, I went to the library figuring that they would totally have a ton of different copies of P & P just like the bookstores always do. But guess what? There wasn’t one copy in site. Not even a boring paperback. NOTHING. They had other Austen books – Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Emma – but no P & P.
I totally blame the bicentennial!!!!
Well, this just made me want to read the book even more, which means I’m probably going to have to read my boring-ass copy unless I’m lucky enough to find a pretty copy of the book at the library sale I’m attending tonight. If not, I guess I’m going to have to choose between boring paperback or boring free eBook on my iPad.
But I WILL read Pride & Prejudice before this celebratory bicentennial year is over. Because what’s the point of celebrating something if I don’t even know what I’m celebrating?
All right, Miss Austen. It’s ON.