It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
This is one of the most famous opening lines of any book in the English language. In a single sentence, Jane Austen set up everything that would follow in her now-famous classic, Pride and Prejudice. P&P is one of the most beloved books of all time. Its enduring popularity (along with all things Austen) continues to grow in a way that I'm sure the author could never have imagined.
Jane Austen published six novels, but none as well known as Pride and Prejudice. The characters of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, and their love story, continue to endure.
Why does it endure? Pride and Prejudice is my favorite novel, so for me it's more than just the love story between the two main characters. It's also the subtle commentary on the social mores of Jane Austen's day. Austen had a keen eye for irony and had the ability to showcase all of the different personalties that made up her world. I think that we all recognize people that we know in her characters. Times and customs may change, but we still all know someone like Mr. Darcy, who thinks he is far superior than most of the people around him. And there are still women (and men) who are outrageous flirts like Lydia Bennet. We may not have to worry about whether someone would ever want to marry us because of our social standing, like the Bennet sisters do -- but we all look for someone to share our lives with, just like they did.
Pride and Prejudice was the second of Austen's six published novels. And while everything she has ever written has been read and scrutinized many times, the problem for most fans is that she only wrote these six novels and a few unfinished stories. With the immense popularity of the BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice in 1995, the world's obsession for more exploded. Sequels, spin-offs, modern updates, and even a graphic novel have been published in the last 18 years. There is even a book with Mr. Darcy as a vampire!
To honor the 200th anniversary (January 28, 1813) of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, here are a few of the sequels and spin-offs of Pride and Prejudice (and even some books regarding our ever-lasting love for Jane). But only a few. Any more than that would require you to spend more time reading about them than actually reading them!
[For any Janeites out there who are interested, the Jane Austen Society of North America, Pittsburgh Region, will be having its 2013 Jane Austen Festival on March 15 and 16. For more information, check out the group's website.]
This is one of my favorite versions of the novel. It's so much fun! It tells the story very accurately and the illustrations are beautiful.
-- Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters as zombie hunters? In this adaptation, they are. There is still the love story of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, but with zombies attacking the countryside, we see a whole different side of the famous novel.
-- Mr. Darcy's Daughters by Elizabeth Aston
In this sequel, we meet the five daughters of Elizabeth and Darcy. It has been twenty years since their wedding. The Darcy sisters have much in common with the Bennet sisters, with their widely different personalties. Appearances are also made by several loved (and not-so-loved) P&P characters.
-- Pride and Prescience by Carrie Bebris
Here we have Elizabeth and Darcy, newly married, acting as a crime-solving duo. Not long after Caroline Bingley has married a rich American, strange things begin happening. Since these odd occurrences involve the Bingleys, the Darcys step in to figure out what is going on. The first in a series of mysteries.
-- Darcy's Story by Janet Aylmer
Pride and Prejudice is told primarily from Elizabeth's point of view. The only time we, as readers, get to know what Darcy is thinking is when he writes a letter to Elizabeth to explain his relationship with Mr. Wickham (among other issues). In this novel, we get the whole story from Darcy's perspective.
-- Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Stephanie Barron
The first in a delightful mystery series where we see the Jane Austen many of us believe she was -- smart, observant, and resourceful. The stories are supposed to be long-lost diaries of Jane herself. In each one, we find Jane involved in helping a friend or family member, proving their innocence in some crime. We even get a chance to see Jane have a little bit of romance with a mysterious Lord!
-- Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford
In this series, Jane Austen is now a vampire and has been for 200 years! She is now living in upstate New York and owns a book store. The last novel she wrote before becoming a vampire has been rejected 116 times by publishers, while her books and all of the sequels and spin-offs fly off the shelves of her store. Although she has kept a low profile all these years, she is suddenly thrust into the spotlight, and a mysterious person from her past has come to complicate her life.
-- Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World by Claire Harman
Harman examines the many ways that the popularity of Jane Austen has grown all over the world, and why we are still so fascinated by Austen's books and her life.
-- All Roads Lead to Austen: A Year Long Journey with Jane by Amy Elizabeth Smith
Does everyone love Jane Austen? Even in countries where the culture is very different from that of Regency (or even modern) England? Smith decides to find out when she takes a year to read Austen's novels, in Spanish, with book-loving friends throughout several Latin American countries.
-- A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and The Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz
For a nice change, we have a look at Jane Austen from a male perspective. Deresiewicz discusses how each of Austen's six novels influenced his life and helped him become the man he is today.
-- Post by Tracy