Jane Austen's masterwork Pride and Prejudice turns 200 today!
In a post for The New Yorker's Page Turner blog, William Deresiewicz reminds us how close Jane Austen came to giving up on her book: "There seemed little chance, two hundred years ago, that many people would remember either the novel or its author by now. The draft that she produced at twenty-one was rejected by a London publisher sight unseen." And yet, two centuries later:
Darcy and Elizabeth, Elizabeth and Darcy: by now they’re nearly mythological. Just as the Greeks did with Achilles or Medea, figures who spoke to them of something permanent about the human condition, characters to orient their moral compass by, so we do not cease to tell their story—which means, to retell it. The movies, the zombies, the fan fiction; the sequels and variations and modernizations; Bridget Jones, “Pride and Predator,” P. D. James; the characters as African-Americans, the Bennet family as Anglo-Jews, Mr. Darcy as an angel come to save America from Satan: everybody wants to inhabit the story for themselves, to cut Elizabeth and Darcy out of the picture book and see how they’d fit somewhere else, everywhere else. They are archetypes of the way we want to be: clever but good, fallible and forgiven, glamorous, amorous, and very, very happy.
Join the birthday celebration by quizzing yourself on words that may smack more of 1813 than they do of 2013 with our Vocabulary List "50 Words from Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice."
Austen fans: Do you have a favorite Austen word or turn of phrase? Let us know in the comments here!