Part of my goal this year is to catch up on all of the classic audiobooks that I have picked up over the years. I picked up nearly 20 free classics last year when Audible and Amazon were promoting their kindle book/audiobook integration (whispersync). And you can still pick up over 100 classic audiobooks for $0.99 each.
While I have seen a couple of movies based on Jane Austen books, prior to this reading of Pride and Prejudice, I have not read Austen before.
As I have been reading through a number of classics over the past year or so there has definitely been a mixed bag. Some are clearly classics because they brought something new (but do not feel all that great because that new feature is now common, think Citizen Kane.) Others really are great and their greatness is still visible. I would put Pride and Prejudice in the later category.
The story is fairly familiar. It is a proto-romantic comedy. There is misunderstanding and unrequited love. There is the guy that looks good but is not. There is the guy that seems annoying, but is really the right one. There are all kinds of situations (and personal pride) that keep the lovers apart. And there is a real sense of comedy, although not the slapstick or baudy that is common among a lot of modern romantic comedy. What is clear is that family honor is one of the biggest reasons that keeps the two apart and that is certainly not what would keep a couple apart today.
The real sense of difference in culture that is present between today and the book gives an otherness to the story that keeps it from just being another romantic comedy. This is definately a classic that I would recommend to modern readers.