Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice, written by Jane Austen in 1813, is one of the most famous novels in the English language. It tells the story of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and one of literature's best-loved heroines, Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Mr. Darcy is filled with pride and Lizzy is blinded by prejudice. Upon overcoming these faults, they discover their mutual attraction. This classic novel is complete with rich language, extraordinary characters, witty statements, and sparkling humor.
Jane Austen (1775-1817) began writing to amuse herself and her family when she was a child. The daughter of a minister, she was born in England, the youngest in her family. Jane lived in small English towns where her father preached, and she never married. Jane had a quick mind and colorful imagination. She was interested in everything and everybody.
Jane wrote an early piece (at age 16) called The History of England: From the Reign of Henry the 4th to the Death of Charles the 1st. It was intended to parody a popular, four-volume work called The History of England. Jane's personal correspondence has been collected in a volume called Jane Austen's Letters, providing unique insight into the daily life of the novelist.
Jane Austen wrote six novels: Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Mansfield Park. Four of these were published during her lifetime without her name on them, because it was not considered respectable for women to write books. Two more were published after she died. Jane's gradually failing health resulted in her death at age 41.
Jane Austen's works are wonderfully accurate views into the life and times of the Regency period. Her novels entitled Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1816) make up a fascinating study of life in rural England at the end of the 18th century/early 19th century. Jane gives us the clearest picture of a section of English society that any novelist has ever written. Writing about a society which she knew very well - and often using people she knew as models for the characters in her books - Jane gives us a complete picture of the thoughts and ways of English gentlefolk, in stories that seem real and life-like.
Jane Austen is one of the greatest novelists who ever lived. Although her works are not exciting adventures or sensational tales, her exquisite touch renders commonplace things interesting through description, wit, and sentiment. Her novels readily meet the literary criteria which she herself described in Northanger Abbey: "'Oh! it is only a novel!'…or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language." (Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey)
I only wish Jane Austen had written a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, so we could follow the lives of Lizzie and Mr. Darcy after they married and find out how Lizzie liked being mistress of Pemberley and rambling around those expansive grounds. Some other authors have written sequels, such as Letters from Pemberley, the First Year and Presumption: A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice. However, I doubt that they could come anywhere near the vision or quality of Jane Austen, and I wouldn't want to spoil the effect of her work by reading someone else's version.
There are some excellent film versions of Jane Austen's books: Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Mansfield Park. But if I were to suggest any one Jane Austen adaptation, it would be Pride and Prejudice. The BBC and A&E together produced this six part miniseries that aired on television in 1996. It was later brought to video and it also comes on DVD as Pride and Prejudice - The Special Edition.
The Pride and Prejudice movie is a refreshing un-Hollywood look at polite society in Regency England. It is the most faithful adaptation of the characters and plot, with just a few small deviations, and it is the most correct representation of the period and costumes. A lot of research went into the filming, which resulted in period-authentic sets, designs, costumes, language, and mannerisms. With its gorgeous scenery and superb acting, one can watch this film over and over again without tiring of it. This is not just a "chick flick," either - consider the fact that Pride and Prejudice is my husband's favorite book (after The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings), and surprisingly, even our teenage son became enthralled as the movie unfolded.
The Making of Pride and Prejudice, by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin, is a behind-the-scenes companion guide to the movie, showing how they transformed Jane Austen's classic novel into a stunning television drama. The book vividly brings to life every stage of production of this sumptuous miniseries in compelling detail, with lots of photos. (The chapter entitled "Costume, Make-Up, and Hair Design" deals with decisions that had to be made concerning the palettes and styles of costume and hair for each actor. It also describes the expensive and painstaking wig-making process and explains that not only were the costumes made, but so were the fabrics!)
For genuine music of the era, be sure to listen to the movie soundtracks from Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, as well as The Jane Austen Companion by Nimbus Records.
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These pages are a continuous work in progress.