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New One Book: But Will the Dudes Read It?

By Anonymous in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 9, 2005 5:48PM

Pride and Prejudice-Cover Image: The Chicago Public Library yesterday announced the 9th selection for One Book, One Chicago: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. We admit to feeling a thrill when we heard the news--an excuse not only to reread Pride and Prejudice, but to watch the positively dreamy Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in the epic A&E movie adaptation. And again in Bridget Jones's Diary. Swoon.

Nevertheless, written across the pond and nearly 200 years old (over that, actually, if you consider the first draft rejected by a publisher in 1797), Pride and Prejudice is a curious selection for the One Book initiative, especially considering the solidly American or Chicagoan social/historical/political resonances in previous selections. The English aspect of it is apparently in honor of the 150th anniversary of the British Consulate General in Chicago. And to be sure, the "enduring issues of social pressures and gender politics," as Anna Quindlen is quoted in the official One Book brochure (get yours at your local library or bookstore or read it online), make Pride and Prejudice an eternally relevant and worthwhile read. But we wonder: is it the best choice for our gritty city in these gritty times? Or are we to take it as the pleasureable, witty escape that it can be?

Let's face it, it's got the reputation of being chick-lit, and the multitudinous contemporary adaptations: chick lit, chick films. While we acknowledge its value beyond that mildly derogatory nomenclature, Pride and Prejudice does serve, mostly to women, something of an indulgent pleasure-reading role. We wonder how many guys out there who have read other One Book, One Chicago books are going to shrug and take a pass on this one. Tell us, guys--have you read Pride and Prejudice? Will you read it now?