I was asked by a new-found friend and Jane Austen fan over at Upstart (an online magazine for emerging journalists) to write a piece about what it is that makes Pride and Prejudice so popular. Why are we still reading it 200 years later? The formation of this article, Pride and Prejudice still on top, was a lot of fun.
“It’s been almost 200 years but Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is more popular than ever, and global adoration of Mr Darcy isn’t waning either. Pride and Prejudice blogger Jennifer Duke examines just what it is about Austen’s work that is so enduring.”
The creation of this began a rather epic research journey, which span a couple of months I believe. Partly because I wanted to get the article right. And, um, a large part because university is taking all my spare time (as is trying to work to maintain enough money to go to Melbourne, fund my book habit et cetera). During the time I was writing it, I learnt several things:
1) Jane Austen is not universally loved *sobs*.
2) Despite this, Pride and Prejudice is topping most of the ‘Top’ book lists in a range of countries (and especially over here in Australia, on the Dymocks top 101 books list).
3) The Twilight Saga is also topping this list *more sobs*.
4) I have five copies of Pride and Prejudice, and I can happily justify having them all.
I contacted the Jane Austen Society of Australia, who weren’t able to answer all my questions (there were an absolute tonne of them) as they are volunteer run and of course, very busy, but one lady did eventually answer my most important question out of the list.
I also racked my brain for my ‘favourite’ Jane Austen moments (from highschool to my present day bookclub) to explain just why it means so much. This wasn’t an easy task (and I found myself throwing away so many ideas, just because I was worried they would seem to stale for other people- for instance: dancing around on Year 12 retreat at a monastery, pretending to be in the Regency era because there were fields. Yes, fields.).
I think the problem for me, is that Jane has been involved with virtually every moment of my life after I discovered her through Pride and Prejudice. One of my best memories of my Mum and sister is watching the Jane Austen Book Club with them. Formal/Prom dress and hair were originally Pride and Prejudice ’05 inspired. Some of my favourite conversations with people are about these books. I daresay that I can no longer have one chat with my best friend, Pauline Wallis, without some aspect of Jane being mentioned.
I also wanted to talk about the banner ad I posted up in the top of this post. The Jane Austen Handbook written by Margaret C. Sullivan (from AustenBlog) looks incredibly exciting, and I recently found snippets of it over at the Quirk Books site Irreference. I definitely think it is worth checking out.
After all I, literally, have ‘What Would Jane Do?’ imprinted on my mind and heart. Don’t you?