It certainly seems to me that this can be said of very few novels. Yes, of course a lot of them survive in the sense that they’re read by scholars, and are studied by English Literature students, but Pride and Prejudice has survived in a different way. It’s one of the only classics, perhaps along with Wuthering Heights and some of Dickens’ finest, that has retained its universality, and has succeeded in appealing to everyone, regardless of age or gender.
The love that exists for this novel has been shown many times over the years, most notably in the 2003 BBC Poll The Big Read, which listed Britain’s favourite novels, where it came second only to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. It has sold more than twenty million copies worldwide, and succeeds in being consistently popular.
So why has it maintained such a high level of popularity? Well, it’s quite clear, really. The novel, although containing nineteenth century language that can sometimes be difficult for the average reader to get their head around, is hilarious. The situations that Elizabeth Bennet finds herself in are simply fantastic. As Mr. Collins proposes to her, the reader cringes for the bland and boring man, but can’t help but laugh at Elizabeth’s refusal of him.
The fact remains that the situations are totally relatable, even to a twenty-first century audience, and Austen’s witty writing style can’t help but win the reader over. So if you haven’t read this novel yet, go on and do it. There’s no doubt that you’ll enjoy it. And don’t let its age scare you, if anything, let it allure you.