It’s time once again to celebrate Great Books Week with Excellence in Literature and NAIWE. For 2013, we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Jane Austen’s masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice. If you haven’t already read it, we hope you’ll take the opportunity to do so this month.
Download the poster as a PDF: great-books-week-2013
Here’s an introduction to P&P from the Jane Austen module in the British Literature volume of the Excellence in Literature curriculum:
“It’s not easy to explain why Pride and Prejudice is one of the most popular novels of all time. The plot, after all, does not involve sweeping drama, earth shaking events, or even spellbinding suspense. Why do people read Jane Austen’s masterpiece, not just once, but time after time? I believe it’s because of Jane herself—her delightful wit, her interesting (sometimes aggravating) characters, and her enduring themes. Like Shakespeare, she reveals truths about human nature that ring true despite cultural changes. Her books are subtle; like shortbread cookies, the first bite may seem bland, especially if you are used to something bold and splashy. By the time you finish, however, chances are that you will want more. Enjoy!”
More about Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice
You can learn more about Jane Austen and her work at PBS Masterpiece Theatre, which offers a biography, film clips, including behind the scenes excerpts, a page for each of Austen’s books, and a nice selection of resources for further research.
G. K. Chesterton’s splendid essay, “On Jane Austen in the General Election“, appears in several of his essay collections, as well as online. His analysis of Mr. Wickham is spot on. (Chesterton is another great British writer.)
You may view the non-interactive version (better for a slow connection) of Austen’s History of England at this link; audio is still available and you can view enlarged images of the pages.
Pemberley.com offers a very helpful listing of characters, with a genealogical chart.
I highly recommend the 1995 BBC/A&E version of Pride and Prejudice, with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. It incorporates much of Austen’s incomparable dialogue and remains generally faithful to the novel. You may view more information and a few clips at the BBC site.
You may visit Chawton Cottage, the Hampshire home where Austen wrote some of her most beloved works. The website has a nice virtual tour.
The Jane Austen Jokes page has several variations of a top ten song list, a hilarious list of Jane Austen punishments (things such as “An audience with the Queen accompanied by Mrs. Bennet” or “A tour of Rosings with Mr. Collins”), suggested answering machine messages, a money-making scheme from Mr. Wickham, and much more.
The Derbyshire Writers’ Guild has created a site for stories written in the style of Jane Austen. Amazingly, there are over 2,400 stories on the site at this time. Perhaps you’d like to contribute one as well? There are also message boards and links.