January 28 marks the 200th anniversary for the publication of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen in 1813. This is not only one of the world’s most beloved novels, but also my favorite book of all time! Honestly, I never tire of reading it, and my well-worn copy holds a place of honor on a crowded bookshelf.
Even two centuries later, Pride and Prejudice remains a literary masterpiece for several reasons in my mind. First and foremost, it is a beautiful love story. I admit it, I’m a total sucker for that reason alone. Calling it a love story just doesn’t do it justice though, because to me it is more than a love story; it is so romantic with its dated customs of courtship that I can hardly stand it. The story makes me weak in the knees, butterfly in the stomach, school-girl crush giddy in its romanticism.
The other reason I adore Pride and Prejudice is because it is a remarkable study of relationships and characters. All sorts of relationships are explored; between men and women of course, but also between parent and child, siblings, friends, and people from different classes of society. Jane Austen hit the nail on the head two hundred years ago explaining the complexities of personal interactions. She also showed how people can be good and bad at the same time, a revelation that resonates deeply with me. Nobody is perfect, and Austen was brave enough to expose human weakness way back in 1813.
It would be hard for any modern novel to surpass the perfection of Pride and Prejudice in my opinion. In my own writing, I try to emulate Jane Austen’s insight into relationships and communicate those tricky “truths universally acknowledged.” She has set the bar so high, I’m afraid I’ll never attain this goal. Luckily, I can always reread Pride and Prejudice to learn more from the master.
Some things never change, like the inherent nature of people in general. Do you think Pride and Prejudice will still resonate with people in another hundred years?