Jane Austen’s lovely, comedic novel, published 200 years ago, remains my favorite book, ever since I read it at 16. It was the smartest thing I’d read in my empty-headed young life, yet funny and accessible. That’s the appeal, to me, of Jane Austen and especially of Pride and Prejudice: that a book written in the early 19th century by a genteel maiden lady could seem universal to a sloppy young lout-ette of the 1970s. When the Bennett sisters’ mocking father silently invites Jane and Elizabeth to share his enjoyment of their very foolish cousin, Mr. Collins; when Elizabeth is spurned at the ball by the supercilious Darcy: “…tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men”; when Bingley teases his friend Darcy, “I assure you that if Darcy were not such a great tall fellow, in comparison with myself, I should not pay him half so much deference. I declare I do not know a more awful object than Darcy, on particular occasions, and in particular places; at his own house especially, and of a Sunday evening when he has nothing to do”- these scenes stay with me still and seem as fresh as if they’d happened to me.