Celebrating Pride and Prejudice:

Celebrating Pride and Prejudice: 200 Years of Jane Austen's Masterpiece - Susannah Fullerton

With a baby and a tight book buying budget, I rarely buy books new. When 3 shiny B&N giftcards were delivered by Santa this year, I was very excited to have the chance to buy Celebrating Pride and Prejudice.


Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations, but I wouldn't say this disappointment is necessarily the fault of the book. This is a very light, mostly surface-only "appreciation" of one of the greatest novels in Western literature, and one of my all-time favorites, so it was never really going to live up to it's source. I've read maybe a dozen or more academic works focused on Austen, and especially on Pride and Prejudice, so it's really my own fault. I always get burned by the pop lit studies take on literature (Flirting with Pride and Prejudice was another one, but that one was infinitely weaker than this one, with it's focus on "chick lit" and sequel stories).


This is not to say the book wasn't enjoyable, it was, just not as deep as I would have liked. It essentially breaks the book and it's surrounding culture into sections, beginning with biographical information on Austen, and then looking at the writing style, the characters and essential plot items before moving away from the actual text to look at adaptations, sequels, merchandise and other secondary elements.


There are lots of interesting trivia items dispersed throughout, like the reactions of the community to the work and the homes possibly used as models for Rosings and Pemberly. They aren't new to a hardcore Austenphile, but anyone just branching out from P&P to studies of the work will find things to enhance their reading experience. Fullerton obviously loves her subject (she is the head of the Australian chapter of the Jane Austen Society and author of several other more academic studies of Austen's work) and writes with wit and deep enjoyment. 


Her examination of the worlds that have sprung up around the novel, from Darcy worshiping websites and zombie slaying variations to t-shirts and totebags, is very detailed and offers some perspective on the cultural status of the novel. She also offers a fairly in depth look at translations from around the world, emphasizing just how difficult it is to carry Austen's exquisite irony successfully into other languages. While she is a bit judgmental when it comes to the erotic and/or monster-y spin offs the novel has produced (I'll admit I am, too), she gives a detailed catalog of the works, both good and bad. 


To sum up, I don't regret buying this book. It was fun and it did make me want to re-read P&P for the umpteenth time, but I could have used a little more depth in the examination of the text and sacrificed some of the space given over to listing the title in other languages and describing film adaptations that are no longer extant.