One of my favourite books of all time, Pride and Prejudice, is 200 years old this year. And like any true classic, it still continues to delight its re-readers and bring in some new fans. There have been a couple of adaptations over the years, two that tend to dominate are the “icky Keira Knightly” version, (sorry Keira, its not personal I’m sure!) and the 1995 BBC version which is how I came to love the story to begin with. Yes, that was an admission, I’m afraid I did see it before reading the book. If you are a big fan like myself and haven’t seen it, I recommend tracking it down and watching it at once.
However, it wouldn’t have changed anything, after going back and reading the book a number of times, I still rate it in the highest possible category. The question to ask I suppose is how and why is it still relevant today? In my opinion, the main character of Elizabeth Bennett – outspoken, independent and warm-hearted, gives women everywhere a decent female heroine that we can aspire to and believe in. And also (shock horror) she’s not perfect! She does have flaws and lapses of judgement like us all, a fact that makes her more adorable to the reader.
The other characters in this novel are quite a mish-mash that work sublimely when combined with Austen’s dry wit and observations. Mrs Bennett – hilarious! Mr Collins – I actually can’t find the words to describe this “odious little man,” but believe he is beautifully cast in the BBC adaptation. And Mr Darcy- disagreeable, arrogant and hypocritical but somehow Austen manages to make him a romantic hero? The woman is a genius.
More spin-offs include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (very funny), the Bollywood film Bride and Prejudice, and the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. The latter is labelled as: “an addictive bi-weekly retelling of Pride and Prejudice for the web generation.” Hmm… not quite sure about this. Especially when Episode 6 is entitled: “Snobby Mr Douchey.” No further comment required. For more information, see The Guardian website
So, many happy returns P&P….