“This is truly most unfortunate, as I have sworn to loathe him for all eternity.”

We’ve all heard “don’t judge a book by its cover.” We all do it anyway. We can’t help it–the cover is after all the face of the book! If the cover looks boring or unprofessional, we figure it stands to reason that what lies inside is, also. Even if such an assumption can be quite unfair.

Well, I committed an even worse crime, sad to say. I judged a book by its movie.

(And by its author’s other books, but mostly by its movie.)

The book in question? Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.

I wasn’t allowed to read Austen growing up, but when I was in my teens my mom handed me her favorite, Emma to read. I was excited, but as I read on–I mean, I saw the literary merit, but I didn’t L-O-V-E it like all other girls I’d ever heard of, which vastly disappointed me.

Years later I was stuck in a hotel with my sisters while we waited for a conference to start, and we were bored, so a friend lent us several DVDs, among them the Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice. Now, I’d heard that this was not the version and that it was vastly inferior to both the book and the miniseries, but I found it so ridiculous I decided it sealed the verdict on Austen for me.

I, officially, was not a Jane Austen fan.

I know. I’m ashamed of myself.

I found a beautiful hardcover copy of the book at a thrift store and bought it, ’cause, you know, classic. I started reading it a couple months ago because I have trouble making decisions and just decided to go across my bookshelf left to right, top to bottom, and it was fourth from the left on the very top shelf.

And I liked it. I really did.

While Mr. Darcy still isn’t and probably never will be my fictional true love (that honor belongs to Matthew Crawley), I get him now. I relate with Elizabeth. I enjoyed the dialogue and the writing and the plot. Indeed, I found it quite a superior work of fiction.

The lesson? Well it’s one I should already have known–DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS MOVIE. I knew better, and yet I still fell into the trap. The truth is, while there are some excellent book-to-film adaptations out there, in general the book will always be better because books and movies are just entirely different creatures. A book explores the psyches of the characters in a way a movie simply never can do. A movie can imply, it can suggest, it can communicate powerfully–but it can never be the same story as a book.

And that, my friends, is a truth universally acknowledged.

6 thoughts on ““This is truly most unfortunate, as I have sworn to loathe him for all eternity.”

  1. Psst… here’s one of my literary secrets. Well, it’s not too secret, because I keep telling people lately. :p

    But… I haven’t read any Jane Austen yet myself. I feel terrible about this.

    But… 2018 is the year that this awful fact changes. I’ve been planning to start with Emma, and then we’ll see where it goes from there. 🙂

    P.S. Movies don’t usually have all the wonderful details and and amazingness that books do. However, I have ran across a handful of movie exceptions (that were even better than the book), but those of course are rare.

    1. Eh, I hadn’t read any until I was about twenty, when I read Emma, then I didn’t read any more until now, when I’m twenty-seven. There’s no shame. 😉

      But yes, it is a good thing to change. And you’re so right about movies! The good adaptations are rare indeed.

  2. My youngest sister is doing a Jane Austen study for her senior year, so my mom and sisters and I are all reading the books together and doing a discussion group—and I was just musing recently how I think Austen’s modern-day popularity actually obscures the things that are best about her books. If you go back to the source and simply read the novels, you find that they deal very forthrightly and thought-provokingly with questions of right and wrong and with relationships between people—and not just romantic relationships either! It can almost feel surprising how much substance they have if you’ve spent a long time in the atmosphere of movies and coloring books and mugs and t-shirts. 🙂

    I do still enjoy several of the screen adaptations very much (though I definitely agree the 2005 P&P is not one of the best!), but they’re best as supplements to the novels, not substitutes for them.

    1. I like that assessment… and I think your’re so right about the books! They almost can’t even be labeled “romances” because they’re so much fuller than the romances you typically think of. Much more true to real emotions and people and struggles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *