The New Times (Kigali)

2 February 2013

Rwanda: 200 Years of Pride and Prejudice

Two hundred years later and I still can't get enough of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Every time I read it, it seems like it is my first. The novel was first published on 28 January 1813. This was at a time when women writers published their works of art under anonymous or used masculine names.

On 28 January this year, the fans of Austen set out to celebrate her work. And I chose to join them by re-reading the book. Oh, how fun it was! It was like I had never known the content of the book. I was buried into it. I never wanted to blink or I find the book snatched away from me.

And with no doubt, I know there are a number of people who are like me. Those who cannot get enough of this lady's book. Why? It is with the ease that Austen wrote the book; the wittiness. It is with the way the characters are portrayed that will draw one to it.

I think it would rank as the most read romantic novel in the history of books. She must have inspired many of today's romantic book writers.

Generations have not only made sure that the works remain on paper but also on film. It has inspired many films in Hollywood and Bollywood. Some of these films have stayed loyal to the original book while others have brought it closer to the modern times.

Over time, different houses have published the novel and thus, its cover and the illustration has changed.

Pride and Prejudice is one of the classic books that are still on the English and Literature syllabus of many schools all over the world. It all seems like one has not read literature if they have not read this classic.

Like one of my literature teacher used to say, "Literature is a living subject." Even in the 21st century, a number of people still relate to the story. You need not to go further into the story to realise this, it's at the beginning of Chapter One. The line reads, "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

Until now, many men work hard and the moment they get their fortune, the next thing they think of is to find a woman who can look after that fortune. And they will finally get the wife - just like this book suggests.

It is little wonder that Austen referred to it as her child/baby. If she had not paid great attention to the novel, maybe it wouldn't even be in people's shelves two centuries later.

About Pride and Prejudice

• Pride and Prejudice story follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th century England. Elizabeth is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London.

• It was Austen's second published novel after Sense and Sensibility (1811)

• It remains Austen's most popular novel

• Its genre is romance

• On 28 January 2012, it marked 200 years since its first publication.

Jane Austen's fact file

• Born 16 December 1775

• Died 18 July 1817

• She was an English novelist

• Romance dominated all her novels

• She was the seventh of eight children

• She started writing in her teens, writing poems and plays for her and family's amusement.

• She never married and had no children

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