Is it me or does Jane Austen seem to be blowing up lately? It’s not that she ever really disappeared, but with the 200th anniversary of “Pride and Prejudice”, it seems as though Austen has re-emerged, making a triumphant comeback into the popular world. And I say hurrah!
I mean, starting in 2017 she will oust Charles Darwin for the coveted (?) spot on the British 10 pound note. Perhaps the most disturbing show of Jane Austen (or Colin Firth) love emerged in the 12-foot sculpture, which was recently constructed in England. I realize that this popularity is mainly fueled by the anniversary (and to be sure a PR campaign put on by the UK), but I always welcome more Jane Austen into my life.
I, like many others, was introduced to Austen’s most popular work, “Pride and Prejudice”, through the 1995 BBC mini-series. To this day, my sick day tradition is to sit in bed and watch the entire 6 hours (Note: I was sick the first time I saw it when it first aired on A&E). I almost don’t mind being sick when it involves hour after hour of the sparkling dialogue and spectacular performances. Eventually, I read the book and continue to pick it up about once a year. I loved her fiercely strong characters, especially given the context of a culture that did not appreciate outspoken women. Her wit and heart mingle beautifully together. I’ve read Austen’s other books, and while not every book is a favorite, I just enjoy her witty style of writing. I may not be a full-blown “Janeite” (coined in the 1890’s to distinguish Austen fans), but I have had my moments. These include:
- Annual Reading: I read the book “Pride and Prejudice” every year. I don’t go out of my way to do so, but it just ends up happening. Once while reading it, God convicted me of some sin my life. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s true.
- Jane Austen Center: When I lived in Bristol one of my treks involved visiting the Jane Austen Center in Bath. While Austen did spend much time there, it’s recorded that she couldn’t stand the city. To be honest, the center felt a bit disappointing, but I’m still glad I went. Travels in England also allowed me to see original copies of early manuscripts (via the British Library) and the famed portrait done by her sister (at the National Portrait Gallery).
- Paraphernalia: It’s true, I own various Austen products, including notecards, a “Pride and Prejudice” pencil bag, and the Bollywood version of P&P, complete with soundtrack.
- Zombified: Yes, I have not one, but two “Pride and Prejudice” meets zombies books.
This alone could qualify me for Janeite status:
- Song: Yes, it’s true. I wrote a song based on “Pride and Prejudice.” I’ve played it multiple times. In public. Sometimes by request. One of my favorite lyrics from the song:
You took me out for chai tea, made me laugh until I had to wee. I know that you like me, but will you read “Pride and Prejudice” for me.
It is a truth universally acknowledged…
That I am a fan of Jane Austen. So, here’s to 200 years of enduring recognition for a truly wonderful piece of literature!