Pride and Prejudice, the Movie Tie-In Edition

Purchased Pride and Prejudice from Bookhaven bookstore on Fairmount Ave. in Philadelphia upon the occasion of being part of a reading group to meet and discuss the book … yet I already knew that I would not be able to join the meeting. In fact, the group met on the day that I purchased this edition.

Pride and Prejudice
Written by Jane Austen
Edited by Vivien Jones
392 pp., 5.11 x 0.68 x 7.78 inches
Penguin Books, 2005

11th Printing

Gallery of My Copy of Pride and Prejudice

The Ignominy of a “Movie Tie-In” Edition

OBVIOUSLY, it’s not very cool.

Reason 1: Commercialism!

It is not cool because the publishers are explicitly depending on the popularity of a film — and in this version, an image of the British actress Keira Knightley — to draw a connection with the potential reader.

Therefore, it is crass commercialism. As IF the publishers are somehow part of the world of commerce and depend on profit in order to maintain their livelihood.

Rejoinder 1: Publishers ARE Part of the World of Commerce

Believe it or not, “publishers” — a fiction permitted for the sake of moral judgment — or publishing companies are in fact commercial enterprises, and during these days when literacy is on the wane they well very well use even such gestures to fill their coffers (another prejudicial image, alas).

Reason 2: The Dignity of Literature is Wounded

Literature is a creature of the divine imagination, descending from the heavens wholly untouched by the exigencies of human life, and therefore to engage in commercialism is an offense to that sublime dignity.

Rejoinder 2: “Literature” is an Abstraction, but a Concrete Abstraction Created Under Specific Conditions

No “literature” existed prior to the creation of the literary marketplace during modernity and the conditions of literacy necessary in order to make it possible, as well as the class stratifications making it into a sign of belonging and therefore an object of desire.

Reason 3: Film is Beneath the Dignity of Literature

You cannot deny the fact that the products of literature possess an older (and therefore higher) stature in the pantheon of the arts! Film is a mere collective art form, designed for the literature and illiterate alike!

Rejoinder 3: The Conditions of Film Production are Explicit, Unlike Those of Literature

Literature conceals the conditions making its possible! Nothing can be virtuous if it consistently engages in dissimulation! Whereas film is forthrightly a collective art, requiring the specialized skills of a large number of talented individuals and providing them with some semblance of recognition in the credits following a film’s showing.

The British actress Keira Knightley in a film still from the 2005 film adaptation of Jane Austen's 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice

Reason 4: Keira Knightley is NOT Elizabeth Bennet!

She seems like a delightful person and was quite charming both in the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice as well as in 2002’s Bend It Like Beckham (okay, I haven’t actually seen this film — but I have seen film version of Ian McEwan‘s Atonement [2007] and thought that was a great film).

But she is not Elizabeth Bennet!

In particular, Lizzy experiences moral chagrin of the first order at the end of Volume 2 of the novel, and film is simply not adequate to communicate this moral state. At the end of Volume 2 all of Lizzy’s prejudices against Darcy show themselves to be vicious and baseless. Darcy is not the person that she has made him out to be.

Reason 5: Film Adaptations Encourage Reading, Yet at the Price of Reading Closely