28 January 2013

7 ways to celebrate Pride and Prejudice without being obvious

If you're a particular kind of literary nerd, you know that today is a very important day: It's the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice.

I've known about this for weeks, and I've tried to figure out how best to commemorate this day that, for Jane Austen fans, is like a blend of the Fourth of July and the Queen's Jubilee.

{That's because we feel, instinctively, that a day as momentous as this should involve fireworks and people speaking in British accents while wearing pretty clothes.}

Sure, you could be obvious and re-read a favorite section of Pride and Prejudice, but that idea just lacks imagination. That's exactly the kind of thing Caroline Bingley would come up with, and we all know that we don't want to be like her.

This morning on my run, I channeled the spirit of Elizabeth Bennet {although if I were really chanelling her, I probably wouldn't have been in quick-dry shorts that exposed so much of my legs...}, and came up with:

7 Ways to Celebrate Pride and Prejudice without Being Obvious

  1. Walk across a muddy field. Arrive somewhere fashionable and proper looking distinctively messy and unproper. If you can find a stile to cross, all the better. If your walk ends at a house like Netherfield, you may be in some sort of Austen-themed amusement park. Watch out.
  2. Refuse to read any article about this anniversary that starts with "It is a truth universally acknowledged..." They're not even trying to be original. Whoever writes like that probably starts every other article with "Merriam-Webster defines [hope, growth, whatever] as..." If you like Jane Austen, you're allowed to be a words snob.
  3. Never use anyone's first names. Call everyone you know Miss This and Mr. That. Your boss may especially like this one, and if your company is like my company and your annual review is coming up soon, he/she may be so taken with your return to this level of formality that you get a raise.
  4. Wear an empire-waisted dress. No, wait, that one is a little obvious.
  5. Don't watch Lost in Austen. It was made by ITV {they of Downton Abbey fame} and the premise sounds so good: a modern-day woman gets transported back into the story of Pride and Prejudice. She realizes that she has the ability to change the novel, and oh my, what to do with such power and lack of modern conveniences? I can tell you what: NOTHING interesting. It's mostly her saying to characters, "Oh, I remember when this happens in the book!" and then, understandably, them looking at her in confusion. Four hours of confused people in period costume is not entertainment.
  6. Watch the Colin Firth-coming-out-of-the-water-in-a-white-shirt scene from the BBC version. That scene wasn't in the book? Elizabeth actually started to fall in love with Darcy when she saw how beautiful Pemberley was, not when she saw Darcy's abs? No one cares. More Colin Firth. Colin Firth all the time.

  7. Read a favorite section out loud in a British accent. Oh, I'm a girl with a British literature degree: I am already obvious in my love for Jane Austen, so I may as well celebrate today in a very obvious way. I might as well go all the way and drink a pot of tea while I do my reading. This doesn't, by the way, mean I'm like Caroline Bingley, who I earlier accused of lacking imagination. In fact, it means I'm like Elizabeth Bennet: aware of her own mind and unafraid to speak it.

    And my mind right now says: Go read Darcy's second proposal.

    My mind also says: Consider embroidering it onto a tea towel and selling it on Etsy. Jane Austen fans love that kind of stuff.


  1. If only I had known about this day ahead of time, Miss Walker! And to think I spent the entire day speaking in a Paraguayan accent. Completely the wrong hemisphere and language!

  2. Perhaps you know about this already, but an addictive new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is The Lizzie Bennett Diaries.


    1. I do know about that! Abbi Carlson introduce me to it, and I have to admit that I've only watched a few episodes.

      But you know that one of the girls (Lydia) is a friend of Meredith's, right? That makes me feel like I know someone famous...through the six degrees of separation game.



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