From Book Riot:
We all know it. The Pride and Prejudice first line: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
The opening line to Jane Austen’s most famous novel is one of the best known lines in literature, and for good reason. It’s snappy, it’s memorable, and it perfectly sets up the story that is about to unfold in Pride and Prejudice – a romance that follows the ever-popular “hatred (or at least disdain) to love” journey, whilst poking subtle, satirical fun at the society it’s set in.
It’s a quote so famous that it’s used as a basis for commentary on nearly everything, with the nouns being swapped in to fit the topic. The line has been used in everything from the parody novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (“it is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains”) to articles that pick apart the use of famous quotes themselves (such as this article by The Telegraph, with the rather meta title ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that great words will be misquoted’).
. . . .
Reading the Pride and Prejudice first line, Austen’s voice comes through loud and clear. We know right from the get-go that Pride and Prejudice is going to be a wry look at the marriage market of the Regency period, and the cut-throat scramble between upper-class women to secure that “single man in possession of a good fortune”, and with it, her own future. It hints at the stakes that exist for the Bennett family; in a social setting where women must marry well to avoid destitution, having to find appropriate matches for five daughters is an Olympian-level challenge.
Link to the rest at Book Riot
While PG read the OP, a thought experiment floated into his consciousness – What would be the present public status of Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennett, etc., if The BBC, PBS, etc., had never made a TV/video version of the book and the P&P movies didn’t exist?
PG likes to think Ms. Austen’s wit and wisdom would still be widely known, but he wonders if the movie/video versions have made the book more approachable for many readers.