I'm in love - I'm in love - I'm in love - with Jane Austen and her writings. I have not just recently discovered her. Pride and Prejudice was required reading for me in high school. But I had so little appreciation for this style of writing as a teenager.
This infatuation has been growing and growing in recent years. I am a vintage linen collector. I love old books, furniture, and films, especially PP and SS and Emma. I am addicted to Downton Abbey. But seeing a Hollywood production is vastly different than reading a book.
As an homage to the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, my local library has been hosting some events. Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813, after many revisions by the author. Her first title for this piece was First Impression.
I understand that Jane began writing for the amusement of her family when she was about 11-12 years old. This was the family entertainment of an evening after dinner - reading, embroidery, play acting. It takes an imagination exercise for us to recreate in our minds, a family evening without a TV, gameboy, blueray, CD's, ipad, ipod, lights that come on at the flick of a switch, a pantry filled with snacks, a fridge filled with cold drinks and ice cream. In families like the Austen family, the evening's entertainment consisted of one member reading to the others...................
It was very difficult to have a manuscript, especially from a woman author, accepted for publication in London at that time. Incredibly, she wrote it all out in longhand. Without the sponsorship of one of her brothers, it would have proved impossible for an unknown woman to get any notice by publishers. It would have to be self published. The cost would be prohibitive. The manuscript could not be passed around from publisher to publisher as there was only one - hand written. It languished for many years. But was eventually published and gained in scholarship and reputation - finally becoming "required reading" for high school English classes and loved by generations.
My library presented a lecture on Ms. Austen, given by Edith Lank, an octogenarian, a retired English professor whose specialty is JA. She's a member of the Jane Austen Society. http://www.jasna.org/ Her lecture was so interesting and informative. Included with the lecture were items from Ms. Lank's extensive Jane Austen collection. (copies of JA's books translated in many languages). Also included were movie clips of Hollywood's versions of the novels. The 1940 version of PP with Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy and Greer Garson is her favorite.
She's expert in the fashions worn in that historical era. The dresses were Empire style, not Victorian and often times misinterpreted by Hollywood. The Bronte' novels, on the other hand, would be Victorian style.
As an extra, added bonus, on the actual 200th anniversary day (1/28/1813-1/28/2013), the library showed the most recent Pride and Prejudice film. The 2005 version, starring Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Bennet. I was privileged to be there.