So, I may have missed the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice by a week(ish), and for that, I apologize. I’m especially sorry because I love Jane Austen, and I really love Pride and Prejudice, and well, I’m fastidious about celebrating significant anniversaries.
I can still remember laying on my bed in the sun when I was in the seventh or eighth grade, happily paging through my mother’s old copies of Austen. This was the same way I discovered Louisa May Alcott, the Brontë sisters, and Dickens, in fact, and to this day, when I visit my parents and spend time in my old bedroom (now an office), if the sun is coming in at just the right angle, I feel this twitch deep in my bones for a few hours with those old (old) friends.
That being said, I’m also a sucker for a good reinterpretation, and my current Austen favorite (not quite edging out the 2005 film, but in a very solid second) has appeared in the form of a series of brief webisodes available on YouTube. I discovered The Lizzie Bennet Diaries about two months ago and watched sixty of these 2-5 minute episodes in one go. You may rightly assume productivity that day was at an all-time low. I was undeniably hooked, and although I know you come to me for recommendations on literature rather than…well, whatever category videos on the internet fall into…you’re just going to have to branch out with me this once.
The biggest reason I’m advocating for these videos (putting aside my obvious obsession) is that I love to see people get excited by stories. Sure, I often reach for a book above all else, and I’m thrilled to be able to offer you with the opportunity to read Pride and Prejudice for free here or on your kindle (also free) over here. Please go read it. Pass it along to a friend or child or student to read. It’s a wonderful book, and I get swept away by it every time I pull it off the shelf. That being said, literature, to me, survives and thrives when we allow it some space to breath. Maybe these videos won’t inspire anyone to read the book; maybe they’re meant for people like me who are already fans, but I like to believe otherwise.
I enjoy imagining that the creativity that led to this project will inspire others to try something new as well. It thrills me to see young people getting excited by a book that’s two hundred years old, and if their first exposure to it has to come in a palatable, modern format, that’s okay with me. It’s the end result I’m looking for – the passion, the excitement for storytelling, the belief that a text that seems complicated or distant can be made accessible!
As you may have guessed, I’m not exactly the hipster queen of reading. There’s no wrong way to love stories, nor is there a less worthy route to becoming a person who loves to read or interpret books. It shames us, as lovers of reading, when we forget how fortunate we are, by birth or education or luck, that we have countless worlds and words at our disposal; the only remedy I’ve found is in embracing all the facets of storytelling. It’s impossible to know what experience might speak to a person, or offer encouragement to explore the written word for those who always felt that stories were meant for someone else.
I unabashedly love this videos. It’s been amazing to share them with my family, and with the youth that I mentor, and now, with you. This is a classic taken a thoughtful, modern twist, and I hope, even if this isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll check it out at least to see what’s possible with a storyteller’s enthusiasm.
Here’s the link to Episode 1. If you’re anything like me, I’ll see you in three to six hours. Oh, and Lizzie’s sister Lydia? She has spectacular videos too; I highly recommend watching them interlaced with the LB Diaries for a more complete story. For a complete picture of the project, head here.
Oh, and remember, if you just aren’t into videos, you can read the original book for free online at either of the links above..