Episode 61 - Summer Book Club Book 4: Pride and Prejudice

Dr. Jean Boreen, dean of SUU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, joins President Scott L Wyatt and Steve Meredith this week for the last book in the Summer Book Club: Pride and Prejudice. They discuss the bridge Pride and Prejudice has built between classic literature and young adult literature and outline some of Jane Austen’s background as a successful author in the 1800s.

SUU Blog: President Wyatt’s Summer Book Picks for 2019

Full Transcript

Steve Meredith: Hi again, everyone, and welcome to Solutions for Higher Education, a podcast featuring Scott L Wyatt, the president of Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. I’m your host, Steve Meredith, and I’m joined, as always, in-studio by President Wyatt. Hi, Scott. How are you? 

Scott Wyatt: Terrific, Steve, thank you. 

Meredith: So, this is the last of our Summer 2019 Book Club, and I have to say that, in my own little romance loving heart, that this has actually been the one that I’ve been looking the most forward to. [Both laugh] So, anyway, we have a special guest with us, as we have throughout the summer to discuss each of the books, why don’t you take a minute to introduce her?

Wyatt: We’re delighted to have Dr. Jean Boreen with us. Dr. Boreen, welcome. 

Dr. Jean Boreen: Thank you. 

Wyatt: To say “doctor” is not saying enough. You’re the Dean of our College of Humanities and Social Sciences and a literature faculty member and at SUU now for, what? A year? Two years? 

Boreen: About 13 months. 

Wyatt: Yeah. More than a year. 

Boreen: Yeah. 

Wyatt: Settled in, everything is great. 

Boreen: It is. It’s great. I love being here. 

Wyatt: Well, we love having you here. And today, we’re talking about one of the great novels that was written...actually, when was this? Like 1813 is when it was published?

Boreen: 180...yeah, it was published then, but it was probably written sometime between 1796 and about 1806. 

Wyatt: So, more than 200 years ago. Still relevant today. 

Boreen: Absolutely. 

Wyatt: Before we get started about this novel, why don’t you tell us just a quick...just give us a brief introduction to your literature background? 

Boreen: Ok. So, I am actually an English Ed specialist and spent most of my career actually teaching people how to be high school and middle school English teachers, and I have loved that immensely and one of the major parts of my teaching background has been getting to teach people how to use literature effectively in the classroom. So, I have worked with my students over the years in teaching everything from young adult lit to the classics, and, in the case of Pride and Prejudice, which we’re going to be talking about today, I’ve actually used that in conjunction with young adult literature to help my students, my college students, understand how we can move from young adult literature to classic literature and often back again to better understand what some of our classic authors really were helping us to think through. And so, Pride and Prejudice has been long one of my favorites both as a classroom teacher and as a college professor, using it as a model for how to do best practice in the classroom. 

Wyatt: Well, and it seems like Pride and Prejudice is one of the classics that is more familiar to the average person. 

Boreen: I would definitely agree with that. And I think a lot of that has to go the fact that there have been some really fantastic movie and mini-series versions of it, especially the one connected to the BBC with Colin Firth and Jennifer Eli, and I think that has really left an impression on many people who have seen it, both male and female, but I think given a lot of people appreciation that then led them, sometimes, back to the book. 

Wyatt: Well, and that series you're talking about is pretty darn true. 

Boreen: It is. It’s so accurate that there are times when I’m re-reading the book that I can actually hear Colin Firth’s voice in my head [Wyatt laughs] as I’m reading through it, so…

Wyatt: Can we start out with Jane Austen? Tell us who she was and some fun things about her. My understanding is, and I could be wrong, but my understanding is that nobody really knew what she had written until she was dead. 

Boreen: Actually, she had quite a lot come-out during her lifetime in the latter years. She was the daughter of a minister, and one of the younger daughters, but definitely was very involved with her community’s social scene and that really gave her an insight as to how people interacted with each other. Also, she was herself, and I think this surprised people, a very outgoing, often flirtatious young woman who was basically friends with a lot of people. Had her own little romantic mishaps that, again, I think a lot of people are not aware of. There is this vision of Jane Austen as this kind of poor woman who never married and maybe wasn’t appreciated enough by her family, but actually, her family, in particular one of her brothers, really appreciated her writing ability and he actually helped her get published during probably the last, I would say probably 10 to 12 years of her life. And he was kind of her liaison to publishers. They didn’t always know who Jane Austen was, because in the beginning, they kept it more quiet as to who she was, but she was known to many people as an author and she relished, I think, those opportunities. I think she would have liked to have done quite a bit more with her writing and to be more public about it, but, again, the societal expectations of the time were limiting in that sense, and yet probably allowed her more private time to do the type of writing she needed to do to finish up the various novels that she worked on. 

Wyatt: Jean, what about the stories that she was hiding or writing that if somebody came in the house, she would cover it up? 

Boreen: She had a writing desk, she would put things away, but she was...I mean, she was very meticulous about wanting to make sure that what she was writing was done well. I think her sister, Cassandra, had some sense of what she was doing. They were very open with each other and very much confidants in a number of ways, so much so that during a certain part of Austen’s life, there were certain letters that she wrote to Cassandra that Cassandra actually burned upon Jane’s death. But, she was...she kind of kept some of those things to herself, and yet there were so many opportunities to do role playing and things like that with her siblings that—growing up—and with her nieces and nephews later on that I suspect they had some sense of some of her writing and what she was doing with it and where some of it came from. 

Wyatt: They were published anonymously at first, right? 

Boreen: Right. 

Wyatt: And part of that was that women weren’t supposed to be writers. 

Boreen: That’s very true. And yet, there were women during the timeframe that Austen compared herself to who were being published, and I think in that way, she was very competitive and wanted to make sure that what she was writing could be held up against anything that was being written by any of these other female authors, as well as most of the male authors, but…

Wyatt: Well, that has borne out to be true, hasn’t it?

Boreen: Yes, absolutely. 

Wyatt: This book, the first title to this book I think is a great way to talk about a piece of this that’s significant, and that is First Impressions was the title, I think, that she suggested…

Boreen: Mhmm. 

Wyatt: Before it because Pride and Prejudice. 

Boreen: Right. 

Wyatt: And it does seem like it’s a book of unfortunate first impressions. 

Boreen: Absolutely. 

Wyatt: That could also be described as pride and prejudice. 

Boreen: Mhmm, yeah. 

Meredith: Disastrous first impressions [All laugh]. 

Boreen: Absolutely. 

Meredith: And a society that didn’t allow...with such structured manners that it didn’t really allow you to ease up on the first impression very easily. 

Boreen: Exactly. 

Meredith: It was difficult to erase that first impression because the interaction between men and women at the time was so tightly structured.

Boreen: Mhmm. 

Meredith: And people didn’t speak their minds frankly in the way we do today. 

Boreen: Yeah, that’s so true. Yeah. 

Wyatt: So, where do you put the pride and where do you put the prejudice?

Boreen: You know, I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations with students about that over the years, and I know in some cases, my own view has changed because, I think, when I first...the first time I read Pride and Prejudice—and I have read it many times—the first time, it was Mr. Darcy was definitely the prideful one and that Elizabeth had certain prejudices against him, and then as you continue reading, you realize that she has a lot of pride in family and that his prejudice is against that. And so, I think they are both very much pride and prejudice consistently throughout, as are so many of the characters in the book. Mrs. Bennet, for example, I think alternates between being very proud of her family and just aghast at the fact that she has five daughters to marry off [All laugh] and this is not an easy task and they live in a small village and there just aren’t enough really good men to go around, and by “good” I mean “men with money” and that was Mrs. Bennet’s total focus. And so, she would alternate, when you go back and look at the book, sometimes in 10 pages, being very delighted by Mr. Darcy and then hearing something he would say, and then her prejudice against him kicks in full force and she is totally disgusted with him and “no child in her family would ever want to marry him.” So…

Meredith: She’s one of my favorite characters. [Wyatt laughs] Mrs. Bennet. 

Boreen: She is great. 

Meredith: She is solely focused on just the one thing…

Boreen: Absolutely. 

Meredith: And that whole, “When you have five daughters, tell me what else will occupy your thoughts.” 

Boreen: Mhmm. 

Meredith: That speech to one of her daughters is just…

Boreen: Yeah. I think, for a lot of reasons, when you look at the limitations women actually had in terms of making any money, taking on certain roles…

Meredith: Yeah. 

Wyatt: Inheritances. 

Boreen: Yeah, exactly. 

Wyatt: Inheritances. 

Boreen: The entailments...it just was so difficult and, although my students routinely disparage Mrs. Bennet because she is Mrs. Bennet and  some of the ridiculous things she says, they do come to a little bit of...maybe not respect, but a little bit of grudging admiration for her by the end. Because by the end, she’s gotten three daughters wed and two of them are going to do very well by their husbands. So, it’s always interesting to really take a look at Mrs. Bennet because she’s got some of the best lines in the novel in terms of ones that make you kind of chuckle or go, “Oh my gosh, someone actually said that out loud?”

Meredith: I feel that same way about Mr. Collins. He’s such a supercilious twit…

Boreen: Oh, absolutely. 

Meredith: That he’s one of my favorite...one of my favorite English characters. 

Boreen: Yeah. 

Meredith: Because he just is so perfectly wonderful. 

Boreen: Yeah. 

Meredith: He’s...and just worship his Lady Catherine, his patroness, and he’s wonderful in his awfulness. 

Wyatt: Well, let’s see, as we’re running through some of these people, so, Mr. Collins is a distant cousin. 

Boreen: Yes. 

Meredith: Who stands to inherit because the Bennets had no male heir. 

Wyatt: Yeah. 

Boreen: Right. 

Meredith: Yeah. 

Wyatt: When I was at law school, this was a subject we studied a lot, which was the inheritance rights, property rights and all these things. The estates would stay together and...anyways, fascinating. I’m so happy that we don’t live in that world today. 

Meredith: Yes, agreed. 

Boreen: Yeah. 

Wyatt: Because I am a third child. [All laugh] For one reason. 

Meredith: Yeah, you would have been in bad shape. 

Wyatt: Mr. Wickham?

Boreen: Ah, Mr. Wickham, yes. You know, it’s just...I was thinking earlier today a little bit about the Mr. Wickhams of the world and we still have so many of them running around. 

Meredith: Oh, yeah. 

Boreen: And I think that’s, just the whole character who’s a cad, who’s charming, but you know he’s manipulating people and yet, when you just see him on the page, the subtlety there around him is so well done, but that’s something that still exists today and I think when you consider how people interact with each other, there are so many Mr. Wickhams still around. And I’d like to think that women have gotten savvier about the Mr. Wickham’s of the world, but I’m not sure anyone can be more savvy about a Wickham [All laugh] until they actually see them in action and see the trouble they cause. 

Meredith: Well, it’s just so much of human nature. Austen says throughout this book, or the characters say throughout this book, “How could someone this fair, how could someone this beautiful with this bearing be a cad?”

Boreen: Yeah. 

Meredith: So, as you look at people who are blessed with that kind of physical beauty, you realize that Wickham and characters like him have been, for better or for worse, given a pass on a lot of things. 

Boreen: Yeah. 

Meredith: And some people are wonderful people that just also happen to be lovely people. Some people are terribly people that happen to be lovely people. 

Boreen: Yeah. Well, and then there’s somebody like Mary Bennet too who, Mary would have been perfect for Mr. Collins. 

Meredith: Yeah. 

Boreen: You know, she has so much of the same attitude, religious beliefs…

Meredith: Yeah, very serious. 

Boreen: Yeah. And yet, he doesn’t give her a second look because she's not attractive or she doesn’t have the beautiful eyes that Elizabeth does or the...you know, the aquiline nose that Jane does. 

Meredith: [Laughs] That’s right. 

Boreen: I mean, it’s just...there’s so many of those little pieces that I think are so perfectly done. 

Wyatt: Well, and our assumptions about people that we meet, first assumptions, pride and prejudice, Mr. Wickham starts out in the book with being a very...the first impression is very positive. The first impression of Mr. Darcy is very negative. 

Boreen: Mhmm. 

Wyatt: And they flip. That’s a...that’s a great cultural reminder…

Boreen: Mhmm. 

Wyatt: Thing to think about. 

Meredith: So, walk us through the story just a little bit. I can’t believe there would be listeners that are entirely unfamiliar with this story, but, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and their five daughters…

Boreen: And the book starts out with one of the great lines of literature, I just want to read that a minute and then I’ll do a little bit of plot. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” [All laugh] And that’s the whole tone for the book, and shortly after that we meet the Bennet family. And there are five Bennet girls, as we’ve alluded to before, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, who...we get the sense probably fell in love because each found the other very attractive.

Meredith: Yeah. 

Boreen: And the attractiveness wore off fairly quickly for each of them for different reasons, but at this point in their lives together, probably 20-some years because their oldest daughter is 20 at the time the book opens, Mr. Bennet seems to tolerate. Mrs. Bennet has a lot of complaints about her situation and what her future will entail, and so, these five daughters are brought up knowing that at some level, they’re going to have to make good marriages to support their mother in the future and to also kind of have the type of lifestyle that they’re used to. The second daughter, Elizabeth, in particular is very smart, very witty as the British would say, very good looking, not as kind as her older sister, never as mischievous as her younger two sisters and tends to look at the world in a very kind of clear-minded way, probably until she meets Mr. Darcy and thinks that her first impressions of him are correct. In meeting Mr. Darcy and being kind of thrown together with him on a number of different occasions has to actually think about her own perception of how she views her society, her family, how she views potential suitors, how she looks at those around her to really better understand that she, too, is capable of making mistakes and that some of her views of the world are more based on misguided loyalty than maybe what’s actually going on. 

Wyatt: So, we’ve got what? Jane, Lizzy, Mary, Kitty and Lydia?

Boreen: Right. 

Wyatt: They all have a role in it, of course, but Elizabeth is the primary. 

Boreen: Yes. 

Meredith: Do you think that, knowing Austen’s literature as you do so well, is any one of those daughters in particular her voice, do you think? Because, I...Mary’s speeches are so different than the other daughters. I was saying to the President that I had a very long car trip yesterday, and so, to remind myself about this book, I listened to the whole book, 13 hours, and I was struck again at how different Mary’s way of describing the world and her surroundings were. Was that just...and I remember thinking to myself to make sure to ask Jean that, because she was so strikingly different, I thought maybe that was Jane Austen’s voice there for a second. But I...have you given any thought to that? Are there characters in here that seem more Jane Austen to you than others?

Boreen: Yeah, I hadn’t thought as much about Mary, although, as you bring it up, I think there was definitely an aspect of Jane Austen where she could take apart her different views of the world, because I think many scholars who have done research on Jane Austen would say that there’s a lot of Jane Austen in Elizabeth Bennet and that the playfulness and the use of language and her subtle flirtation but knowing how far to take something and knowing when to step back from it, knowing when to be very practical, and yet wanting that great life--because Jane Austen herself turned down a marriage proposal that would have actually been very financially good for her and would have allowed her to live some aspects of her life with much more freedom than she had in her parent’s home, but she did not...she first accepted him and then said “no” because she just knew that she couldn’t live that life. It would be a lie to herself. So, I think there are aspects of Jane in Mary, in Elizabeth, umm...those, in some ways, would be the characters that I think the most. There might be some people who would actually say that some aspects of Lydia with the flirtation when she’s younger might have been very Jane-ish when she was younger, first coming out into the social scene. And so, I think she maybe imbue herself in different ways, but I think it’s because she recognized that there were so many different ways, I think, to look at the world and that her experiences were varied enough and her interactions with people were varied enough that really, it caused her to think in different ways about what the world offered for women, what the world offered for men, the impact of society, so, I think that just the fact that Austen was just so brilliant in how she understood the world I think manifests itself in various characters that way. 

Meredith: I’ve always been struck by how different their family was. We hear a number of people, and certainly we hear Mr. Darcy comment regularly on the inferiority of her birth, but they were inferior by birth and rank but also a little bit odd. They didn’t go to town and didn’t have a governess and didn’t...there were, through the words of Lady Catherine when she’s kind of interviewing Elizabeth at one of the dinners, she kind of bears in on her a little bit and in a really awful kind of way, actually. 

Boreen: Yeah. 

Meredith: But, she points out how odd their family is because the father hated London and never wanted to be away from his books and his library and the mother didn’t think enough of the daughters’ education to get a governess and so forth. Does that strangeness of family, does that add to you do the...there just is a differentness, an otherness about the Bennets to me in this whole thing that I find very appealing and attractive. 

Boreen: Yeah. 

Meredith: But it must have been interesting for her to write at that time. 

Boreen: Yeah, and I think it was necessary because, for Elizabeth I think to be as independent, independent minded, independent in her actions as she is, I think you had to have a family that was kind of off-kilter and not as traditional as some of the families that would have surrounded them. I think in Austen’s life during that time while she was writing, there was the war with France going on, so many of the young men were gone, a number of her family members were living in France, coming back from France, and I think it was a very uncertain time in a lot of ways and I think that lends itself well to creating this family who, you know, no sons so they don’t have any of those traditional connections going on with war and things like that and the father just does what he wants and you kind of...the expectation, he doesn’t know that he should be instructing his wife or encouraging his wife to do certain things. And so, you end up with daughters who are very well read in some cases but maybe not as well read as they should have been. As Elizabeth points out, as you note, to Lady Catherine but also to Catherine Bingley when they're doing their stroll around the room…

Meredith: That’s right. 

Boreen: And she’s talking about, “Well, I’m not as good at this as you think and not as good at that and I’m certainly not as maybe a good woman or a usual woman as you’d like to say” and she also says negative things about other women at that point to say, “None of us are really…”

Meredith: “As accomplished as…”

Boreen: “As certain people would like to think that we or have us seem to be.” There’s just no way you could be. So…

Wyatt: How did Jane Austen get to be such a good writer? Did she have training?

Boreen: I would say...well, I don’t know that she would have had traditional training. I think that she had probably the traditional training for a young woman at the time which was more basic, but she had a father who encouraged his children to read and I think opening up his library to them was very important. I think he did not pay, in a similar way to Mr. Bennet, a lot of attention to maybe some of the specifics of what they were reading and what they were doing, but I think a lot of it was Jane was very interested and she revised and revised and revised and she tried out new ideas and she would try out bits and pieces with other people. But even as she was developing new novels, there were certain characters that she would work with and she might stay focused on them for a month or so and if she felt that they had kind of run out of steam, she would shift to something else. So, there are a number of her books that were started and actually completed at different times. She worked on Sense and Sensibility during some of the time she was working on First Impressions and so there was this kind of back and forth. And some people have said you can see some similarities in characters. I think there are similarities because of the timeframe that she’s writing in, but I think because she was kind of going back and forth and she was, for lack of a better term, playing with characters so much and seeing how they might develop, I think that really, revision, which as an English teacher I love, that before that would have been a common consideration, she actually spend so much time writing and rewriting and rewriting and kind of recasting things and I think it was just her desire to really show such a real view of the world that led her to kind of keep going back again and again to what she was writing to make sure that it really was representative of what she wanted. 

Wyatt: So, primarily, she was very well read so she had...she knew what good writing looked like. 

Boreen: Mhmm. 

Wyatt: And then she just spent a lot of time. 

Boreen: Yeah. 

Wyatt: A lot of work. 

Boreen: I think with the writing and also, again, as I noted earlier, there was a lot of play acting. The kids liked to produce plays, they did those for each other, they did those for their adult relatives when everyone got together, and so, I think that, too, was an opportunity to kind of play through…

Wyatt: To build her imagination. 

Boreen: Yep. Yeah, absolutely. 

Wyatt: Yeah. 

Meredith: So, you mentioned that these were published anonymously to start and I presume after they achieved some commercial success her name was placed on them, but was the success of these novels, at the time, do you think about the fact that they were providing this female perspective on life at the time and kind of using wit and irony and other things to skewer a little bit many of the manner and the landed gentry a little bit. Is that why they would have not also put her name on it? Because there is a kind of a sharp wit to these. 

Boreen: Oh, there absolutely is. I mean, people who might have recognized themselves as some of the characters would have probably recognized themselves in certain characters,

Meredith: Yeah. 

Boreen: And so, I think it definitely was part of that. But I think it was the wit and the humor and just the fact that people could see themselves in these characters to some degree...there was also, I think, the idea that someone like an Elizabeth Bennet could end up with someone like Fitzwilliam Darcy. I think that was appealing to a lot of female readers and we know that both in England and in the U.S. at the time, these kind of domestic novels, although I think Pride and Prejudice rises much above that very quickly, but there was interest in more of the domestic novel and the fact that Austen kind of took the domestic novel and placed it in society and placed it in a broader context, I think, was very important and I think was part of the reason people were very interested in what she was doing. Definitely Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility were received the best during the time that she was writing and that she was publishing them and she was very aware of the reviews of those books and would often comment to Cassandra or to her nieces or her niece and nephews about what people were writing and where she thought they were wrong or where she thought they were right. And she was a harsh critic of her own work. She wasn’t as happy with some of the later books and in some cases, she felt that people didn’t understand them as well or that the critic was expecting too much of another Pride and Prejudice and so, I think it just was really good writing, but it was still that interest in kind of seeing people skewered and also seeing the romance, seeing that the plucky girl gets the man in the end. I have to think that there were quite a few women who appreciated that aspect of it. 

Meredith: Well, we started this...or have had during this summer book club, we discussed Hamlet which, you know, and I made the old tired joke about, “I don’t like Shakespeare because all he does is write in clichés” and to a certain extent, Pride and Prejudice is that way too. The “girl meets boy, girl hates boy…” I mean, she sort of set what would be 200 years of romantic comedy up for the rest of us to enjoy and this particular book seems to me has just been astonishingly influential. 

Boreen: Mhmm. 

Meredith: Strictly from that standpoint. Not even taking into consideration how great the writing was and that that’s why we keep coming back to it and why everything else is sort of a pale xerox copy of that…

Boreen: Yeah. 

Meredith: But still, she did so well, she wrote so well that interaction between men and women. And I should share this with you, I was in a theater in Washington, D.C. when the Kira Knightly version of the movie came out and it was very funny to me because I was there singing and I didn’t have anything to do in the afternoon so I went to the theater and there were 300 women and me in this movie theater seeing this movie and I was there watching it and enjoying it very much, but as I was walking out, I got behind a group of women who had tears streaming down their faces and the sense of the content of their conversation was, “Where is my Mr. Darcy? Where is my Mr. Darcy?” And I just was struck again at how impactful just the romantic part of that story really is. The love between those two characters is very, very strong. 

Boreen: Yeah. And if imitation is as sincere as flattery, Pride and Prejudice is one of the most...well, is one of the plots that’s most used and there are so many books out, both young adult, adult contemporary, that go back to the whole premise of Pride and Prejudice, even make mention of it, and then proceed to give us the 2018 version of it…

Meredith: That’s right. 

Boreen: And the 2014 version of it. And, of course, none of them are as strong as the original, but it is interesting how it just lasts and…

Wyatt: Some of the listeners have read this and some of them haven’t. So, what would be your number one reason to encourage a person today to read this novel that’s more than 200 years old?

Boreen: I think, again, I would say the writing is so....is so fabulous in terms of when it’s funny, it is so funny. When it’s paying attention to emotional detail, it’s just so right there. When it’s basically cutting someone down who deserves to be cut down, but it’s done so eloquently that you can just kind of appreciate it and you get that picture in your mind. There’s just so many things with the writing of it that works but I think also the care that she puts into the development of the main characters is so important and you really do feel like you have a great sense of who Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam are by the end of the book. And what’s always been so important to me is you don’t have to find out about certain this through anything gratuitous. It’s all so beautifully laid out. The words chosen are chosen for the maximum effect. There’s no wasted language in this book. It’s just such a perfect combination of word, idea, plot, character development, it’s everything you want a novel to be and it just gives you a great feeling when you get to the end and realize that two people who you’ve come to root for kind of see their own truths by the end of it. I just think that’s what’s so wonderful about it. 

Wyatt: If...we talked a little bit about this at the beginning of our conversation, the First Impressions then Pride and Prejudice and what’s kind of meant by that perhaps, but if Jane Austen was here and we could ask her the question, “What was your point? Is there a point? Is there, beyond the great story, is there a point of the story?” What do you think she would say?

Boreen: You know, I mean, I’ve read a number of different things about her. I think there’s a part of me that would say that she would say, “What you took from this is meaningful because of how it either makes you think about something or how it makes you look at society or how it makes you reevaluate yourself.” I think she was one of those people who was very good at holding the mirror up to people, including herself, and saying, “What do you see and why do you see it?” And I think part of Pride and Prejudice is to get us to think about why we have certain attitudes, why we have certain feelings, why we do things in a certain way and to get us to think about it. And I think for me, that’s, again, one of the treasured pieces of Pride and Prejudice for me. That I think it’s a mirror that helps us see better. It certainly helped me see some things better over the years different times I’ve read it and I think that’s...I’d like to think that’s part of what she was doing in giving us such a great book like Pride and Prejudice. 

Wyatt: Is the book more popular today than it was 200 years ago?

Boreen: I would say it probably is, and again, I think for a number of reasons. I think it was popular back then because it was very different than most people, probably primarily women, had seen before. I think today, because of the films, because of the variations on it, so many cultures have taken Pride and Prejudice and made it their own. There’s...my daughter’s favorite variation on this is “Bride and Prejudice” which is set in India and it is hilarious and it’s got all the Bollywood dances and singing and everything else. But I think different cultures have taken it and embraced it in their own ways and made it their own. And I think in that sense it is even more popular than she would have ever, or could have ever imagined. And it shows up on social media still. So, I just think with everything that we have to let people know about it, more people know about Pride and Prejudice. And if they haven't read it yet, they definitely should. 

Wyatt: Yeah, we have the advantage today over 200 years ago in that this is a story about 200 years ago. 

Boreen: Yeah, that’s true. 

Wyatt: Back then it was a story about their day…

Boreen: Yeah. 

Wyatt: And we’re so fascinated about that part of our history. 

Meredith: It is fun to read about. 

Boreen: Yeah. 

Meredith: Yeah. 

Wyatt: It’s just a fascinating time. Everybody’s looking for a Lizzy or a Mr. Darcy. 

Boreen: They are. And that’s probably the one thing where, again, they’ve got to look in that mirror and go, “I’ve got to look for my own variation of Mr. Darcy because there is only one Mr. Darcy and he’s on the pages of a book.” [All laugh] 

Wyatt: Well, this has been really fun. 

Meredith: Really fun to revisit this book. It’s one of my favorites. 

Boreen: Yeah. 

Wyatt: Yeah, you said that one of the reasons it’s so popular today is because of all the movies, but the movies are because it’s so popular. 

Boreen: Yeah. 

Meredith: Mhmm. 

Wyatt: I mean, the movies are a result of its popularity, not a creator of its popularity. 

Boreen: Right. I think they go hand in hand, yeah. 

Meredith: You’ve been listening to Solutions for Higher Education, a podcast featuring Scott L Wyatt, the president of Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. We’ve had as our guest in-studio today Dr. Jean Boreen and we’ve been discussing Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. If you haven’t read this book, then shame on you and get started now. We’ll be back to our regular podcast once a week coming up very, very soon, shortly after the Labor Day weekend. Until then, thank you so much for listening and we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye bye.