I’ll handle this post like a letter to Jane Austen. Unoriginal but here it is. Also, I tried writing it in Jane Austen’s language but I’m no Emma Thompson and I’d like to believe that if she were alive today, Jane would have embraced some variations of the language.
It was a rainy Saturday afternoon many years ago and I was bored. My sister had bought Pride and Prejudice and kept it on bedside table and while she was out I decided to give it a try.
Needless to say, I was hooked by the time I read the Italian translation of “It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”.
I was so engrossed that I finished the book by that evening. I was so in love with the book that when my sister found out I read it before her, I stole it, locked myself up in a room and read it again. That is the effect that your P&P had on me.
For days after the immersion therapy, my sister didn’t speak to me but I kept telling her and everyone at school and in my family about that book that had changed my life. Here is what I learned reading Pride and Prejudice and discussing it over the years.
1) It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a person becomes someone you want to know if she/he immediately knows P&P well enough to understand references to it. It shows excellent taste.
2) By the time Lizzie had demonstrated the strength needed to refuse Darcy’s proposal, I knew that she was my role-model in how to be a woman. Growing up, I looked up to her and while my sister and I did mend fences after my grand theft, we still fight to this day over who resembles her the most.
3) You probably would have not liked me very much. No matter how hard I try to be like Lizzie I find myself an hybrid between Caroline Bingley and Mary Bennet. No matter, if I ever had the chance to meet you, I would still have worshipped at your feet and accept all those perfectly crafted jabs happily.
4) I think someone should stick up for Caroline Bingley. Watching Darcy fall in love must not have been particularly easy. Which brings me to
5) I realized that it’s possible to fall desperately in love with a fictional character. When then you happen to watch a BBC mini-series and realize that there is an human version of that character and that he is not reachable, well, that is horrible. I will take that piece of Caroline Bingley in me for the rest of my life.
6) The expression lost in translation was not clear to me until I felt the burning need to read Pride and Prejudice in the original language. It made me appreciate even more how able a craftwoman Jane Austen was with words.
7) By the way, if I can write this letter in English I owe it partly to the book we celebrate today. Thanks for that Jane!
8) The passion that I feel for this book is scary for some people. A friend of mine told me that when I speak of P&P, my eyes shine.
9) If your English teacher doesn’t like P&P, it’s your duty to make him change his mind. Mission accomplished ;)
10) No other book could ever make me feel as P&P did and still does. I have it with me every time I move and when I am feeling blue, it’s my go-to book.
11) I am a very pacific person but if someone speaks ill of P&P, I become verbally very violent and I don’t apologize for it.
12) If someone misrepresents P&P as just a “romance novel” I have a 20-minute lecture ready for them. They’ll learn about how it is possible to describe one’s society with a sentence, how romantic love is not the main theme of P&P, people and their evolving emotions are, how it is an exercise of bravura to create characters that could come to life with just one sentence, how wit and irony are the most powerful weapons one could ever have in life and so on and so forth.
I could go on but you were a writer that knew when to stop and I want to try and honor you in this small way. Thank you for changing my life, for making a feminist out of me, for giving me a profound love of literature, for understanding almost all my feelings without even knowing me.