The first copies of Pride and Prejudice were originally published after getting rejected by publishers in London. Fun fact: The first title to the book was First Impressions. I can see where Austen was going with this. However, the first draft of the novel was written when she was younger so the final title does the book the justice it deserves. The plot does not center merely on the first impression the male protagonist Darcy has on Elizabeth. But rather, the relationship between the two becomes much deeper then the face value of money and status. So, the final (and best) title for the novel became Pride and Prejudice. The new title portrays the pride both Darcy and Elizabeth feel as their relationship transforms through the prejudices both held. The publisher Thomas Egerton bought her book and printed the copies. The emergence of a Masterpiece was born when it hit the shelves in 1813.
As the book gained popularity and the British culture moved into the Victorian Era in 1837, P&P received a new cover. I found these covers published in the late 1800s. I was very sad to find the book did not have a mass shift in the cover design until almost a century later. How could a book such as P&P not have a cover from the original copy? I am sure copies exist of the covers during this massive break but I have had no such luck in hunting them down.
The blue cover with the balloons offers a whimsical and simple design. Sold from the “circa 1900” this publication of the novel is anything but simple. Bases on the color choices, are the random green dots supposed to be some sort of distorted peacock feather? The lines drawn flow as if indicating the look of a feather, but what about the random placement of the green dots on the front cover? What was the reasoning behind creating this odd design? Seems more modernized then during the actual time period.
The historical time period offered peace, economic growth, a skyrocket in the population, and along with it a very dirty city. With such prosperity and the rich moving to the countryside I would naturally assume, as a whole, the country began to read more overall. So think about it, you are in the local bookstore looking for the next book to read during your net trip to the English countryside. All the books are different colors: a brown with gold rims, a blue with a cool design, and a boring brown. Obviously the eye goes to the colorful one, the one that seems out of place, with the odd dots randomly placed.
The peacock covers make me wonder… what exactly is the reason behind the design? I decided to go to the Internet for this one. What I found was the peacock symbolized wealth and beauty. (http://www.whats-your-sign.com/peacock-symbolism.html). Wealth fits the theme for the book the most, hence Darcy’s high status. The middle class status of the Bennett’s working towards the higher status became difficult as they were treated unjustly in some instances. The strive for the Bennet sisters to reach the opulent status mark gives this cover only part of the story. What the cover fails to do is represent the prejudice and love debacle between Elizabeth and Darcy. The cover may be rooted in the difficulty of the social classes but it fails to recognize the struggle to overcome the social class barrier.
Now let us jump to the 1930s. This cover was printed in 1938. The Great Depression overwhelmed the country along with the country on the brink of entering another war. So much of the population lived in poverty so this cover suggests a cheaper option for the public to read. As for the drawing on the front page, its from one of my favorite plot changes, Elizabeth riding to Netherfield. I don’t think it accurately depicts the novel as a whole but shows the idea of the daughter leaving home. Even though Elizabeth left to visit her sister the scene could mean much more in the fact that Elizabeth finds her love in Darcy. This is a good cover considering the economic hardship of the time.
I couldn’t do this blog without mentioning the screen adaptions. The films played a prevalent role in the modern popularity of P&P. Let us jump over to the United States. During the 1940’s, the Second World War was occurring as the country struggled to emerge from the Great Depression. As the men and women left for battle, the one at home needed some sort of entertainment. I have not seen this version but based on the fact it is filmed in black and white I can assume the cinematography was simple leaving most of the drama left in the words. As for the poster for the movie, the woman does a good job portraying the persona a woman should hold in social encounters. I think my favorite finding from this movie is Aldous Huxley is a screenwriter for the movie!! This should not surprise many of us as Huxley was living in California at the time this film was produced.
This cover is a screenshot from the film. What I like most about this cover is that it focuses directly on Darcy and Elizabeth. What I like least, the fact it ruins the ending. Really? Why would they show Darcy intently speaking to Elizabeth, them holding hands, and the social poise Elizabeth hold? Also, why is it in black and white? I wish the cover were a tad bit more of an introduction to the book then the whole root of the novel. I suppose it is a typical movie cover put onto the book but I still wanted to see more.
This is probably my favorite cover. The caricatures of Elizabeth and Darcy give the perfect pose to make the reader wonder what will happen. The simplicity of the cover gives the reader the choice what to make of the gut. I do judge a book by the cover and with this one I am curious to see what is the true conversation between the man and woman.