On Pride and Prejudice
Introduction: Flirting with Pride & Prejudice
When the good people at BenBella Books asked me to guest edit Flirting with Pride and Prejudice, I jumped at it. Then I thought, “Why did I do that?” It wasn’t because the book’s a classic; they could have offered me Flirting with Bleak House, and would have claimed a previous deadline.
It wasn’t that it was my favorite book; I hadn’t read it in fifteen years, not since I wrote that grad school paper defending Charlotte’s choice of husband. It wasn’t even that it was the mother of all romance novels; I love my genre, but I’m not a slave to it. So I thought about what it is that makes Pride and Prejudice such a prom queen of a topic, not only for me but for all the writers who signed on to write about it and all the readers who were going to pick this anthology up to read about it (that would be you).
To begin with, there’s the author: Our Jane. People get passionate about Austen: the purity of her prose, the vividness of her characters, the reverberation of her underlying nineteenth-century snark. She wrote of a time, but also beyond it; her voice continues to enchant and enthrall; she’s one of the Top Ten Dead People We’d Like to Have Dinner With. But if the BenBella people had offered me Flirting with Emma, I would still have had a pressing deadline.
So maybe it’s the characters: poor but proud Elizabeth; rich and proud Darcy; suffering …