“[…] Jane Austen is the greatest writer ever – because she was the first storyteller to make me care about an old-fashioned love story.”
I have to say, I think Jane Austen is one of the greatest writers ever, but not because she was the first to make me care about old-fashioned love stories. I always liked those.
In fact, the first time I read Pride & Prejudice I was too young to catch all the subtle things that make Austen great, I think. I read the book because I thought Emma was funny. It’s easier to recognize the humor in Emma, P&P takes a few more reading years under your belt. At least it did for me.
What is so awesome about Jane Austen is that shallow readers may enjoy the romantic notions of it all (hence loving the books in elementary school when I was devouring them along side Anne of Green Gables) and still have more to offer as you age. The greatest of writers can be enjoyed by the young and reveal themselves over time with multiple readings. I think I was twelve or thirteen before I realized that most of Austen’s work is pure satire and subtle hilarity.
The first sentence in the book- “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”- proves to be a reversal of the truth (Austen 1). Instead, it is the women who seek a husband of good fortune, and attempt to gain his favor. These small reversals show Austen’s mastery of the language, and imply that what is often generally accepted and thought of is simply a fantasy. – Jackson Pollock
Even though I adore the Bronte sisters, the mastery of language and social fantasy Pollock talks about is what makes Austen’s work accessible to a much wider audience. Wuthering Heights is all dark secrets and emotion, whereas Pride & Prejudice is social commentary, comedy, romance, and more.
Look at Darcy, the most introverted socially awkward geek of all time. The only reason he is considered desirable by such a wide array of women is because he has money and a pretty face. Without those two things, he would be Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory. At least, that’s how I read him. Apparently, I’m not the only one or the movie made in 2005 starring Keira Knightley would have been a bit exasperating. Instead, it has become a favorite on rainy sick days.
So Happy 200th Birthday Pride & Prejudice and well done, Jane.