Pride and Prejudice

I’ve been reading Pride and Prejudice in preparation for entering the Writers’ News subscribers only January 2013 competition – the brief is ‘a story based on any of the characters or events in that famous novel – but set firmly in the 21st century’.

Detail of a C. E. Brock illustration for the 1...

Detail of a C. E. Brock illustration for the 1895 edition of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice (Chapter 3) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s the first time I’ve read the book and it’s taken me some time to get into it. I suppose it’s the old-fashioned language and often long paragraphs used to get a point across. But now that I know the characters I’m quite engrossed – although I’ve no idea how I’m going to capture its essence in just 1,700 words of a contemporary story.

In Jane Austen’s world people seem to marry barely knowing each other, with background and financial position counting far more than the compatibility of the couple. They get little time alone together and the height of a woman’s ambitions (and those of her parents) is to make a good marriage. Equally, the less well-off males are looking for a bride of independent means to make up for their own financial shortcomings.

Of course, today relationships are conducted quite differently so I think I’ve got quite a brainstorming session to think up a modern-day equivalent story! There is a wealth of Pride and Prejudice fan fiction on the web such as here – so I’m going to have a trawl through and see how it’s done.

In case you’d missed it, 2013 is the bicentenary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice – Austen held her first printed copy of the book on 29 January 1813.  Today Pride and Prejudice is The British Library’s ‘most adopted’ title, in a fund-raising campaign where supporters are encouraged to sponsor a book of their choice.

I wonder which of today’s books will still be popular in 2213? Any suggestions?

By the way if you know any young writers (or are one yourself), there are details of a Jane Austen writing competition here, open to school years 7 to 11.

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  1. #1 by Vikki (The View Outside) on December 13, 2012 - 9:15 am

    Good luck Sally! That’s sounds like hard work 🙂


    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on December 13, 2012 - 4:15 pm

      Thanks, Vikki – but at least I’m catching up on a missed English Literature experience.

  2. #4 by Tracy Fells on December 13, 2012 - 10:24 am

    I re-read P&P last Xmas and was astonished at how modern it read – far more dialogue than description, which is quite a modern literary trait. Quite astonishing that we’re still reading this 200 years later! Not sure if I’ll enter the WN competition but I would pick my favourite character Mr Bennett to write about. He has some of the best lines in the book… Good luck with your entry Sally!

    • #5 by Sally Jenkins on December 13, 2012 - 4:17 pm

      Tracy, I’d assumed I’d write about Darcy and Elizabeth but focussing on Mr Bennett is a good idea & may be a bit different to how other people tackle it.

  3. #6 by jac dowling on December 13, 2012 - 1:42 pm

    An interesting challenge Sally – first up your ‘ladies’ will become women or ‘persons’ (non simpering); the men might revert to ‘mate’ and Jeremy Clarkson possibly inspire the choice of vehicle to replace the family coach!
    All good wishes for 2013.

    • #7 by Sally Jenkins on December 13, 2012 - 4:19 pm

      Jac, it’s difficult to imagine Darcy referring to anyone as ‘mate’! Do you think Mr Bennett would watch Top Gear?!

  4. #8 by Debbie Wilkinson on December 13, 2012 - 3:16 pm

    I will show this to my sons, Sally, see if any of them would like to enter and will let you know if they do. Wish I was in years 7-11 and could enter it too, lol.

    Thanks for the link to it and good luck with finishing the book.

    Debbie W

    • #9 by Sally Jenkins on December 13, 2012 - 4:20 pm

      Good Luck to your sons, Debbie, if they decide to enter. Perhaps you could enter the WN comp. instead?

  5. #10 by susanjanejones on December 13, 2012 - 8:37 pm

    Hi Sally, that sounds a great competition. Gives me a great reason to subscribe. I buy the magazine every month, so don’t know why I don’t get it delivered. It’s surprising how many young girls still marry for the house, car, lifestyle rather than the love. I’m getting ideas now. Thanks for the links and good luck with your entry.

    • #11 by Sally Jenkins on December 14, 2012 - 1:28 pm

      If you buy it every month, Susan, you should definitely subscribe.

  6. #12 by jac dowling on December 14, 2012 - 12:57 pm

    Right Sally, you win ; we’ll try The Hon. or Esq for Mr Darcy, and send Mr Bennett off to the nearest Bentley showroom. Even so, I’d still find it difficult to address my husband as Mr – but I love the elegance and politeness of those long gone manners. Good luck.jac

  7. #13 by Debbie W on December 14, 2012 - 3:17 pm

    I don’t subscribe any more, Sally, I used to buy the mag in the 1990’s and then started to subscribe in the year 2000. Stopped about a year ago. Haven’t bought it for a while so won’t be entering but good luck to all who enter the comp.

  8. #14 by Maxi on January 9, 2013 - 1:35 pm

    I’m rather catching up on a large pile of WM’s when I had to stop reading (!) due to health problems, so I haven’t seen this. Good luck with it! I read it again fairly recently after treating myself to an Everyman Library edition (to add to the other two copies, oops!) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Lizzie really was a girl ahead of her time.

    • #15 by Sally Jenkins on January 9, 2013 - 6:10 pm

      Thanks, Maxi. Actually writing the story is turning out to be harder than I anticipated but I will plod on …

  9. #16 by Alison Runham on January 23, 2013 - 9:06 pm

    I’ve been re-reading pride & Prejudice for exactly the same reason – and finding it surprisingly enjoyable. I’ve watched various Austen films and serials, but this might well be the first time I’ve actually *read* one of the books since I had to study Sense and Sensibility for A level (enough to put anyone off!)

    • #17 by Sally Jenkins on January 24, 2013 - 8:12 am

      Glad you’re enjoying it, Alison. I dispatched my entry to WN yesterday – fingers crossed for both of us!

      • #18 by Alison Runham on January 24, 2013 - 11:15 pm

        Thanks! Good luck in the comp Sally – haven’t even started mine yet, but it’s on next week’s writing to-do’s. Thanks for stopping by my blog, too 🙂

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