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Giving “Pride and Prejudice” a Twilight-esque Cover Increase Sales

ya131007_classics_selling_out_560b“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen is a fucking classic. It was first published in 1813. The story follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England. The book has had steady sales over the decades but recently, the novel was given a new cover that mimics the “Twilight” style of books covers and with that its sales SOARED.

This is interesting. “Pride and Prejudice” is known for its social commentary of the time period. Elizabeth and her desire to not be forced into marriage based on societal wishes rather than love, her contentment with being without a husband, is in stark contrast to the world of the “Twilight” novels. Bella, in the Twilight novels, needs Edward, and more so gives up her entire life for him. Various psychology experts have come out in agreement with the assessment of the relationship between Edward and Bella as abusive. Melissa Henson, Director of communication and public education for the Parents Television Council, stated:

To impressionable teens, domestic violence is almost romanticized. We’ve made great strides in recent years in clearly communicating the message that is never okay to hit a woman…Today, the hidden message in the entertainment consumed by many impressionable teens is that if he hits you, it is out of love – which is absolutely wrong.

Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy grow and change. Both apart and separately from each other. Neither relies on the other to know who they are and what they are meant to do. And eventually they find each other in an agreeable state and marry because they love each other and accept each other. Bella can’t live without Edward, she loses her sense of self and bases her life on the man in her life (whether it is Edward or Jacob). It also interesting to note that “Twilight” was written by a woman of Mormon beliefs which tend to promote the importance of men and demote the power and authority of women.

Why these two books are now being packaged together seems so incredibly counter intuitive. And really, I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing. I am thrilled that new readers are experiencing this novel that I love. That they are seeing a relationship that evolves over time in a healthy way (despite the time period of course) But it also saddens me that only things that are remincient of the anti-woman undertoned novels of “Twilight” can sell.


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