What’s your favorite novel that centers on romance?

Continuing Studies Professor Emily Auerbach considers Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice one of the greatest love stories of all time. She suggests, “This Valentine’s Day may be a good time to dip into the classic tale, which was published in 1813.”

The main character, Jane Elizabeth Bennet, differs from the dazzlingly sweet heroines of many romances who wait passively for Prince Charming to appear, says Auerbach, who will focus on the book in her spring “Book Talks” program.

“Instead, Lizzy Bennet makes jokes, gets her petticoats muddy, and speaks up for herself,” Auerbach points out. “When the incredibly rich Mr. Darcy first spots her, he rejects her as ‘not handsome enough to tempt’ him, but later he falls in love with her sparkling eyes and her ‘liveliness of mind.’ When he proposes, Elizabeth rejects him because of his upper-class condescension, informing him that he is the last man on earth she would consider marrying.

“In the dozens of chapters that follow, Elizabeth and Darcy match wits and argue their way into an unconventional union based on respect and equality of intellect,” she says.

“Two hundred years later, we still can’t get enough of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Hundreds of prequels, sequels, mashups, and adaptations line the shelves of bookstores, ranging from the bestselling Pride and Prejudice with Zombies to a fusion between Gone with the Wind and Pride and Prejudice.

A love story that has enchanted many for 200 years

“Take a look at Pride and Promiscuity, Prom and Prejudice, Prada and Prejudice, Pride and Predators, and even a Pride and Prejudice Counting Book for babies! Movie adaptations set the novel in contemporary India (Bride and Prejudice) or modern-day London (Lost in Austen).”

What makes Pride and Prejudice so marketable and adaptable? Like Romeo and Juliet (which morphed into West Side Story), Pride and Prejudice has at its heart an unforgettable love story–two people who love each other for who they are rather than for who society expects them to be.

Do you agree with Auerbach’ s choice of “Pride and Prejudice” as one of the top love stories? If not, which would you choose? Let us know, as we all celebrate Valentine’s Day this week.