200 Years of ” Pride And Prejudice “


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           FEBRUARY 10 , 2013           11.40 P.M.

Few days back I read news that iconic and timeless classic ” Pride and Prejudice ” , a novel written by Jane Austen , has completed 200 years of its journey . Immediately my mind went into flashback . The year was 1972 and the place was English department of Allahabad University . I had taken admission in the English department for my post graduation in English Literature and thus got introduced to the world of Jane Austen as this novel ” Pride and Prejudice ” was in my course .

I frankly admit that at that time I was unable to understand the novel completely . I was not able to comprehend the intricacies of 19th century England and thus was unable to appreciate the novel . But I was aware of its iconic status and was told by my professors that it is a timeless classic . I decided to read it again in future but was unable to fulfill my resolution due to lack of time . And now in 2013 , when I am engulfed in the activities of my acting institute , ” Pride and Prejudice ” has silently completed 200 years of its existence .

Title page from the first edition of the first...

Title page from the first edition of the first volume of Pride and Prejudice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pride and Prejudice is a novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England. Elizabeth is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London.

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Though the story is set at the turn of the 19th century, it retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of ‘most loved books’ such as The Big Read. It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature and receives considerable attention from literary scholars. Modern interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen’s memorable characters or themes. To date, the book has sold some 20 million copies worldwide.

As Anna Quindlen wrote, “Pride and Prejudice is also about that thing that all great novels consider, the search for self. And it is the first great novel to teach us that search is as surely undertaken in the drawing-room making small talk as in the pursuit of a great white whale or the public punishment of adultery.”

Adaptations

Film, television, and theatre

Pride and Prejudice (1940 film)

Pride and Prejudice (1940 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cropped screenshot of Greer Garson from the tr...

Cropped screenshot of Greer Garson from the trailer for the film Pride and Prejudice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

pride and prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

Pride and Prejudice has engendered numerous adaptations. Some of the notable film versions include that of 1940 starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, (based in part on Helen Jerome’s 1936 stage adaptation) and that of 2005 starring Keira Knightley (in an Oscar-nominated performance) and Matthew Macfadyen.Notable television versions include two by the BBC: the popular 1995 version starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, and a 1980 version starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul. A 1936 stage version was created by Helen Jerome played at the St. James’s Theatre in London, starring Celia Johnson and Hugh Williams. First Impressions was a 1959 Broadway musical version starring Polly Bergen, Farley Granger, and Hermione Gingold.In 1995, a musical concept album was written by Bernard J. Taylor, with Peter Karrie in the role of Mr Darcy and Claire Moore in the role of Elizabeth Bennet. A new stage production, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, The New Musical, was presented in concert on 21 October 2008 in Rochester, New York, with Colin Donnell as Darcy.

Bride and Prejudice, a movie by Gurinder Chadha, starring Aishwarya Rai, is a Bollywood adaptation of the novel; while Pride & Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy (2003), starring Kam Heskin and Orlando Seale, places the novel at a Mormon university in modern times. The Off-Broadway musical I Love You Because reverses the gender of the main roles, set in modern-day New York City. The Japanese comic Hana Yori Dango by Yoko Kamio, in which the wealthy, arrogant and proud protagonist, Doumyouji Tsukasa, falls in love with a poor, lower-class girl named Makino Tsukushi, is loosely based on Pride and Prejudice. A 2008 Israeli television six-part miniseries set the story in the Galilee with Mr Darcy a well-paid worker in the high-tech industry.

Pride and Prejudice has also crossed into the science fiction and horror genres. In the 1997 episode of science fiction comedy Red Dwarf entitled “Beyond a Joke“, the crew of the space ship relax in a virtual reality rendition of “Pride and Prejudice Land” in “Jane Austen World”. The central premise of the television miniseries Lost in Austen is a modern woman suddenly swapping lives with that of Elizabeth Bennet. In February 2009, it was announced that Elton John‘s Rocket Pictures production company was making a film, Pride and Predator, based on the story, but with the added twist of an alien landing in Longbourn. Also in production is the movie Pride and Prejudice and Zombies based on the book of the same name written by Seth Grahame-Smith, where the village of Longbourn is terrorized by zombies.

The book has also been adapted for modern times in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a mixed media web show created by Hank Green and Bernie Su. The video blog follows Lizzie Bennet, a graduate student in mass communications, and includes companion video blogs, Twitter accounts, and tumblrs for many of the other characters.

This summer, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of the novel in 1813, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in London will be performing Simon Reade’s stage adaptation. The production will be directed by Deborah Bruce.

It is amazing that this novel’s popularity refuses to ebb . And it is sad that I am yet to redeem my pledge to read and appreciate this immortal and timeless classic called ” Pride and Prejudice ” . On the 200 anniversary , I am again promising myself to read this novel soon . Though my time is consumed by my acting academy Vidur’s Kreating Charakters  , but still I intend to read the novel soon .

[ Some facts and data about ” Pride and Prejudice ” has been taken from Wikipedia . I am indebted . ]

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