Book Review: Celebrating Pride and Prejudice

Celebrating Pride and Prejudice
By Susannah Fullerton

My Edition:
Hardcover, 225 pages
2013, Voyageur Press
ISBN: 9780760344361

This work examines the language, setting and characters of Pride and Prejudice and how Jane Austen’s creation has come to be so beloved. It discusses the myriad of sequels, prequels and spin-offs written in admiration of her work, as well as the various TV, movie and theatrical adaptations, and even touches on the merchandise that has become available, all long after the respected author’s lifetime.

I’ll say right now, if you really love Pride and Prejudice and you just want to know more about the work and what it has inspired, then read this book. If you’ve never read the book or you weren’t a fan, I’m not sure why you’d pick this up.

Reading this book is sort of like studying, mixed with a slew of facts that would be useful in a P&P themed trivia night. For myself it was also a pretty useful source for Austen-inspired reading (added a few books to my Amazon wishlist) as well as a handy guide to those works that might not be worth pursuing.

It was interesting to read about what other writers thought about Austen’s most famous work and I especially liked hearing that A.A. Milne (of Winnie-the-Pooh fame) thought that if you didn’t enjoy Pride and Prejudice there was something wrong with you. Apparently he smuggled a copy of out of his school library (which didn’t allow borrowing?!)  to read at night and that image just makes me smile.

The book has a chapter dedicated to the various translations of Jane’s work and made me remember how fortunate I feel to be able to read the book in its original language. Just reading about how hard it can be to accurately translate the first sentence of the book, because of the many meanings of certain phrases and the difficulty in conveying Jane’s wit, made me wonder how the book reads in other languages.

Even on film, it can be hard to capture the original source – Elizabeth and Darcy sometimes fall flat, Lady Catherine is constantly portrayed as too old, Mary becomes a caricature, the scenery is wrong, etc. Pride and Prejudice holds a sort of magic for its fans that can never be captured by any other writer or medium.

I certainly learned a few things about the style of Jane’s writing that I never picked up on before and I think it will add to my next re-read. If you’re a big fan, pick this up!

It also has illustrations throughout the book:

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