For Jane Austen’s book is, most importantly, about pre-judging and re-judging. It is a drama of recognition – recognition, that act by which the mind can look again at a thing and if necessary make revisions and amendments until it sees the thing as it really is.
The important thing is that in perceiving her own pride and prejudice – notice she uses both words of herself – Elizabeth can now free of them. There can be few important moments in the evolution of human consciousness that such an act of recognition.
– From the Introduction by Tony Tanner, 1972
Pride and Prejudice, 1982 Edition. Made and printed in Great Britain by Hazell Watson & Viney Ltd. Aylesbury, Bucks. Set in Linotype Juliana. Pride and Prejudice, Digital format from ibookstudio.wordpress.com for Samsung Galaxy Mini.
January 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I’ve been reading P&P (as those of us on intimate terms with the work sometimes refer to it) for 40 years, a fifth of its life. This puts me in a position to say something about its rise in popularity over the course of this period. Jane Austen has always had her fans, and Pride and Prejudice has always been the favorite of her novels, but in the last four decades (roughly coincident with the so-called “postmodern era”), Austen has achieved stardom and P&P, blockbuster status. What is it about Jane Austen — and Pride and Prejudice in particular — that meshes so well with our postmodern culture? Here are 10 reasons: Click here
7) Self-help manual. In our self-help culture, Austen can hold her own nicely. There is plenty of advice percolating through the pages of P&P, if you know how to look. It is easy enough to transmute balls and country walks into keg parties and coffee dates at Starbucks. Guidance on how to handle being snubbed or jilted is useful in any time period. But Austen’s most important lessons are larger in scope — they have to do with judgment and setting priorities. When Elizabeth Bennet visits her sick sister by traipsing through the mud, she has placed the value of caring for Jane above the state of her gown. The narrow-minded, morally stunted Miss Bingley is appalled, but Darcy, whose moral sense, despite his arrogant manners, is well-developed, begins falling in love with Elizabeth on the spot. P&P is about the importance of respecting the rules, but also about the occasional necessity of breaking them — something that all of us good-girl Jane Austen readers need to remember. Another great lesson in P&P is how not to parent. Just note everything Mrs. Bennet says and don’t say it. There’s the added benefit of knowing that no matter how annoying and embarrassing we are to our progeny, we are not as annoying and as embarrassing as she is.