Some of my colleagues might think I am anti-classics, but this is assuredly not so. I just hate how we commit what Kelly Gallagher calls Readicide by reading them to death in English classes. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is my all time favorite: book and movie. The characters speak to me, and I’d know them on the street; I’ve read of them so many times. I even fantasize about living in turn of the century rural England. Well, maybe not fantasize, but I would like to travel to the English countryside someday.
I want students to read this book. I do not want them to hate it. Therefore, I will talk it up. Quote some characters, show them this movie trailer, and offer a bribe or two if I have to: “I’ll bake you tiny cakes and bring you tea.” Whatever.
“My good opinion once lost is lost forever.” — Darcy, Pride and Prejudice
Do you remember that scene in You Got Mail? Meg Ryan’s character has praised Elizabeth Bennett and in subtle ways thrown down the challenge to Tom Hank’s character to read the book. He tries. For her. It’s the sweetest thing ever.
My daughters and I love all things Jane Austen. When the movie Becoming Jane came out, we were on a girls’ trip in Florida where the drivers love their horns, and we shook hands with a young man named Mr. Stubbs who was missing half a finger. The four of us walked into the movie theater, and we waltzed out humming the score and discussing literature. This mother’s perfect evening, surrounded by loving daughters who talk about books.
I’m all about building relationships with my students. By sharing my love of Pride and Prejudice with them– and why I love it, they will see a glimpse into me. The me outside the English class. The me who loves being a mom. Who goes to the movies. Who takes her girls to Florida on vacation. Who finds irony in people’s names.
If my students know me, I have a better chance of knowing them. Books and literature are so much more than reading material.
So, let’s play a bit here. What’s your favorite CLASSIC text, and why?