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Free Library Celebrates 200th Anniversary Of Novel ‘Pride And Prejudice’

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Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfayden star in the 2005 movie adaptation of the 1813 novel 'Pride & Prejudice.' (credit: Universal Pictures)

Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfayden star in the 2005 movie adaptation of the 1813 novel ‘Pride & Prejudice.’ (credit: Universal Pictures)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Monday marks the 200th anniversary of what is perhaps the most beloved novel in the English language. “Pride and Prejudice” was published on January 28, 1813 and the Philadelphia Free Library plans to celebrate with a full day of events.

“I have fought against my better judgment and I’m willing to put it aside and ask you to end my agony. I love you!”

What is it about a back-handed declaration of love, paraphrased here for a movie version that has enthralled readers for 200 years?

“Two words,” says the Library’s literature department supervisor Kay Wisniewski, who quotes a Jane Austin scholar. “Believable happiness.”

Wisniewski explains Austen’s appeal is the joining of a cold eye for human frailty and a warm heart for her characters.

“It’s how love intersects with reality and still triumphs,” she says.

Wisniewski says the book has so many fans at the library that ideas for the celebration flowed to include pop-up live performances of key scenes throughout the library all Monday afternoon, an evening salon to discuss the book, followed by two lectures: Film critic Carrie Rickey will discuss the movie versions (the 1940 feature film with Greer Garson as Elizabeth, the 1995 BBC adaptation and the 2005 film, which will be shown continuously throughout the day) before a talk by a member of the Jane Austen Society.

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