It has been 200 years since Pride and Prejudice was published, a literary landmark the JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA (JASNA) will celebrate at its Annual General Meeting — an event complete with banquet and costume ball in Regency dress — in Minneapolis from Sept. 27-29. Austen wrote only six novels in her short life, but she endures in print, on screen and at the society’s numerous events and conferences. Society president Iris Lutz explains Austen’s eternal allure.
DIVERSE DEVOTEES: “There isn’t one kind of person who is attracted to Jane Austen’s work,” Lutz says. “She has universal appeal. Members of JASNA include accountants, teachers, lawyers, doctors, computer programmers and more.”
CLASSIC CHARACTERS: “Jane Austen created some of the most memorable characters in literature,” Lutz notes. “She was a keen observer of human nature and skillfully created realistic characters that we recognize as people we’ve met in our own lives.”
MODERN WOMEN: According to Lutz, Pride and Prejudice heroine Elizabeth Bennet “appeals to modern readers because she’s modern herself: She’s an independent thinker, energetic and athletic, and stands up for herself in the face of societal pressures.”
ADAPTABILITY: In addition to tongue-in-cheek takeoffs like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Lutz praises the ability of Austen’s work to speak to a new generation. “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modern-day adaptation of Pride and Prejudice told in a series of episodic video blogs. The series has brought Pride and Prejudice to the attention of many young people who had never heard of the book.”