Sunday, 27 April 2008

Jane Austen Mini Survey- Part 2

Icha and I started this site almost a year ago and we still havent revealed the origins of our Jane Austen Love. I thought it important to keep Michelle's theme running so I took it upon myself to offer my own particular favourites. I also became aware of Austen from a young age. I remember my mum having a set of her books at my Nans house and I used to look at them with wonder- when I was very young, my main focus was simply an appreciation of the smell and set of books. I read Sense and Sensibility when I was 12 and then was captivated with Andrew Davies Pride and Prejudice, starring Colin Firth. I was then hooked and have never looked back.

Favourite Book: Sense and Sensibility

Favourite Character: This is really tough. I love Colonel Brandon for his constant devotion. But Emma Woodhouse wins it for me for her independence and intelligence.

Favourite Hero/Heroine: Mr Knightley and Elizabeth Bennet (We try to be unique in our views but we cannot help but love her!)

Today's Favourite Quote: "I abhor every commonplace phrase by which wit is intended; and 'setting one's cap at a man', or 'making a conquest', are the most odious of all. Their tendency is gross and illiberal; and if their construction could ever be deemed clever, time has long ago destroyed all its ingenuity." - Marianne to Sir John in Sense and Sensibility

Favourite Adaptation: I dont think that many will differ in their opinions for this one. Ang Lee's 1996 Sense and Sensibility stands out for me- Kate Winslet as Marianne and Emma Thompson as Elinor was for me a triumph. The sense and sensibility of their characters was depicted perfectly.

Andrew Davies 1995 Pride and Prejudice was also brilliant. I just adore the Mr Collins portrayal!!

I have to say that of the three recent adaptations, I really liked Persuasion- I really felt a chemistry between Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth.

Thank you Jane for allowing my life to be more fulfilled from reading your words.

Any of you want to share your favourites....leave a comment below.

Pic 1 Sense and Sensibility site

Pic 2 Entertainment Site

Friday, 25 April 2008

Jane Austen Quote of the Week – Week Two

I confess that I had some choices for the JA Quote of the Week, but eventually I gave up and stole the earlier quote I had installed in the blog before. It’s from my utmost favourite Austen hero, Mr. Knightley. Yes dear friends, you know what it is…

‘If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.’

(Emma, Penguin edition 1996, p. 403)

And I must say… though I fancy Tom Lefroy using that sentence to admit his feelings of Jane Austen (hence, my fan-fiction), I admit that Jane truly was observant towards human nature. She knew that when one truly loves somebody, one tended not to talk of it often. He/she would only confide said feeling within a very small circle, either out of respect to the person loved, or of fear that it might not be reciprocated, hence better to have it unknown to anyone.

I believe it, because Jane herself was like that. How many people suspected that she still harboured a certain feeling towards Mr. Lefroy? In her century, almost none outside her small circle of Cassie Austen, Henry Austen, Anna Austen Lefroy, Jemima Lefroy, and Thomas Edward Preston Lefroy. Nowadays, particularly starting in the 90s, the Jane/Tom theory started to be talked of often, but not before. And why was that?

Because Jane Austen adhered to what George Knightley said. And I truly respect her for that, for I understand the tendency of keeping one’s feeling in check within a very small circle when we are madly in love with someone, particularly when – like Mr. Knightley or Jane herself – the said feeling was unlikely to be returned. Of course, Jane made Mr. Knightley much happier than herself by allowing him to finally be together with Emma Woodhouse, the girl of his dream.

And how many of us still do what Mr. Knightley did? We love someone, and because of one thing or the other, do not let the world know, despite of the intensity of our feelings. Perhaps we are afraid that the feeling will not be returned; hence better keep a low profile. Or perhaps we are afraid to jinx it, hence better not letting anyone know about it. Or for other reasons. But it still arrives with one conclusion: George Knightley and Jane Austen were correct.

Pic: Emma/Knightley in my favourite version of Emma (1996); Gwyneth Palthrow as Emma Woodhouse and Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley

Andrew Davis Q&A With Austen Fans

Masterpiece Theatre Q&A with Screenwriter Andrew Davies

If you could be an observer in one of Jane Austen's books, which one would you chose to be in?— M. Shatto

An interesting question, and one I've never been asked before. I think I'd like to be a participant observer in Emma, observing how the mystery of Jane Fairfax's piano and Frank Churchill's haircut — and I'd be tempted to intervene and dissuade Jane from what I think is a bad choice of husband.

Do you think Jane never found an enduring romantic relationship because she was so very judgmental of the society she lived in? That she "scared off" potential suitors?— K. Puchek

She certainly had a sharp tongue and didn't suffer fools gladly, but she was very attractive in her youth, and very flirty. Her real trouble was shat she had no money, so Tom Lefroy (with whom she did have a love affair) couldn't afford to marry her (no doubt the same for other young men). She was made an offer by one wealthy chap, and she accepted, only to change her mind the next day.

I am a screenwriter and a huge admirer of your work. When first sit to write a scene, looking to carry Austen's prose to screenplay, what is the first thing you think of? Is it an overall shape to the scene? A feeling? Do you have a series of questions you ask yourself to keep focused? Or does each book ask for its own style, rhythm and approach?— J. Fox

Generally I'm thinking: how does this scene advance the story? What does it reveal about the characters? Is there an essential "key line" in it? And as this is a visual medium, I'm often looking for ways in which the feeling or the meaning can be carried by a look, or an action, rather than the spoken word. But yes, different books, even by the same author, have different moods and rhythms. Northanger Abbey and Pride and Prejudice are very speedy and sparky, while Persuasion is much more sedate, almost melancholy.

When you are writing a teleplay with time constrictions, how do determine which scenes to exclude from it and which ones are most essential? Do you ever worry that fans of Austen's works may be angry at their favorite little moment being missing from the adaptation?— S. Kowalski

There are a number of scenes which are essential if the story is to make sense and make an impact. And then I tend to choose my own favorite little moments, and not worry about other people's favorite bits. They can always read the book again! Selfish, I know, but there you go.

Is there anything, in any adaptation, that you wished you had done differently? Maybe you had an "ah ha" moment long after the project was over or maybe with unlimited funding and time you would have "tweaked" the adaptation a bit?— C. Yancy

The only one I can think of at the moment is Darcy's second and successful proposal in Pride and Prejudice. Too much walking, not enough tender looks, not enough passion.

Do you believe Lady Susan, The Watsons or Sanditon could ever be adapted? You could pull it off — and the Austenites might even let you.— H. Veistinen

It's a tempting thought...maybe I will one day!

What do you think of all the prequel and sequel books to Jane Austen's novels, and would you ever consider writing an adaptation of one of them?— S. Hawkins

I have read a lot of them now and there isn't one that comes near to capturing Jane Austen's style, way with character, and expertise with plot. But I live in hope!

Have you ever thought of taking up pen, and writing a sequel to Pride and Prejudice?— R. Crader

Not seriously, but if I did, I'd take them a generation later, as parents of a rather wild and rebellious son, and two daughters, one romantic and the other sensible.

When you are writing your screenplay, do you have a particular actor in mind for a role and make suggestions to the casting director? Or, do you tweak the script to better fit the actor once they've been cast? So many actors in your projects seem tailor-made for the roles.— D. Kallgren

I don't usually think about particular actors when I'm writing a script, though I have a clear visual picture in my mind. I generally start thinking about casting when the script is complete, and I do make suggestions, and some but not all of them are successful. One of the nice things about Jane Austen is that her heroines are so young (around 20, most of them) that we can cast fresh talent, straight out of drama school, and I love being able to launch careers like that.

Have you ever pondered what happens to the characters after the novel's end? I especially would like to know if Pride and Prejudice's Lizzie Bennett truly lives happily ever after with her Mr. Darcy. She would have Lady Catherine as a disapproving relation. Darcy would have the detested Wickham as his brother-in-law, and he still would be involved with Lizzie's mother and foolish sisters.— J. Perrin

I think Austen foresaw a happy marriage — lots of clever, active children. Pemberley is a long way from Hertfordshire, so they wouldn't need to see too much of the Bennett family. Ditto Lady Catherine. Darcy would probably have to bail Wickham out financially at least once more.

In the adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, the movie seems to follow the book pretty closely until the end, when the tension of Elizabeth telling her mother about her engagement and her beginning life at Pemberly was left out. Was this a conscious decision to leave out these parts?— C. Smith

Absolutely. There is pleasure in reading a novel and seeing how all the little details get worked out, but in a drama, once the audience can sense the ending coming, I like to wrap it all up pretty quickly.

Did you find it difficult not to be influenced by Emma Thompson's 1995 Oscar-winning screenplay of Sense and Sensibility? How did you get it out of your head and go with your own version?— P. Ellison-Pierce

I liked the movie, but I thought that it (and indeed the book) had weaknesses, particularly to do with the men who get the girls. Edward is dull in the book, and weedy and ineffectual and silly in the film. And Colonel Brandon is so underwritten in the book and such a shadowy presence in the film (!!!!!) that it's hard to see how Marianne would turn from Willoughby and come to love Colonel Brandon (OMG - Rickman's Brandon? Really?!). So I did a lot of work on the men. Also, Emma Thompson junked the back story in which Willoughby seduces Brandon's ward and gets her pregnant, so I thought, "We have to foreground this." Apart from that, I looked at the movie several times to make sure that there was nothing in my script that was in the movie, but not in the book.

I really admire Davies as a writer, and would loooooove to be in a masterclass with him. I really enjoyed these Q&A, but I have to say I disagree with him with Q5 over Darcy's proposal. The book is perfect, but I think the BBC proposal is pretty excellent as it stands. Walking - yes, passion - oh yes. It was just such a massive moment that any gesture would be futile, and fail to capture the largeness and, well, extraordinariness of the moment. An overflowing joy. I think their overwhelment with their new situation is captured as near perfectly as it could be. And nary a snog in sight. (I just had to say it. It's the most hideous word!)

Pic 1: Pride & Prejudice 1995 from: Shepherd
Pic 2: Emma 1997 from: Highbury Online
Pic 3: Sense & Sensibility 1995 from: Rickmanista
Pic 4: Northanger Abbey 2007 from: MSN
Pic 5: Emma 1996 from: Corshamtown
Pic 6: Sense & Sensibility 1995 from: Zamok

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Miss Austen Regrets airing in the UK

This is a reminder for all the regular UK visitors to the blog:

Miss Austen Regrets is finally being aired this Sunday 27th April on BBC 1 at 8pm.

Taken from the official site, "Based on the life and letters of Jane Austen, the BBC One feature-length drama Miss Austen Regrets tells the story of the novelist’s final years, examining why, despite setting the standard for romantic fiction, she died having never married or met her own Mr Darcy."

It is written by Gwyneth Hughes (heavy influenced by Janes surviving letters to her sister Cassandra) and stars Olivia Williams and Hugh Bonneville, among a very vastly talented cast.

It was aired earlier in the year in the US and received many positive reviews. I particularly liked a review by the Los Angeles Times:

Williams… gives us a person capable of writing those novels, of imagining all the good and bad within them. This is a complicated Jane, mischievous, loving, sad.”

I am very excited about seeing this as I have been intrigued for a long time now. We are all interested to hear your opinions of the production.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Quote of the Week - One

I am excited to introduce a new weekly feature for the Becoming Jane Blog - the "Quote of the Week" - which will be rotated between Team Jane members. It will focus on a single Austen quote or passage, with a short analysis or dialogue, with the central theme of the continual (and personal) influence Jane Austen has on our lives. Please comment with your thoughts and impressions - I'm certain it will make very interesting discussion!

From Pride and Prejudice Chapter 24. Lizzy and Jane discuss Mr Bingley's sudden departure from Netherfield:

There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense.

I love Austen's beautiful depictions of resonant human truth; her gems of wisdom that we can refer to, and recognise in our lives - her uncanny perception of humanity, perhaps.

This may not be the most cheerful way to initiate the Quote of the Week, but I feel very strongly about this passage, and it often comes to mind - those immortal words of Lizzy, The more I see of the world ... And this is from Elizabeth Bennett! One of the brightest and loveliest people (in print, true) who acknowledges that connecting with true friends of the soul-mate variety is a rare occurance, how ever lovely you may be really has nothing to do with it...

In Elizabeth's words I recognise the truth that true friends do come in small doses, so therefore to make sure I love and cherish them while they are in my life. I used to think that I would be surrounded by droves of (true) friends, but as time passed, I realised that this is not (generally) the way of the world. And while there are few that I love, and even fewer that I "think well" of, the merry fact remains that there are many more that I tolerate. (I so did not want to delve into triteness, but it was starting to feel very heavy ...)

I find it endlessly fascinating, that's all.

Pride & Prejudice pics from: Thrushcross

Vladimir Nabokov on Jane Austen and Mansfield Park

The truth is that great novels are great fairy tales – and the novels in this series (Lectures on Literature) are supreme fairy tales. - Vladimir Nabokov

I stumbled across Vladimir Nabokov’s Lectures on Literature by happy accident, whilst reading Amazon reviews on Dickens, and I am sold. I am only part-way through the book, but I recommend it very highly. I will be buying my own copy, and if you can find a copy at your local library, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do. It’s very accessible, and not at all intimidating – just an exhilarating read recounting and unfolding literature masterpieces with great love and passion.

Vladimir Nabokov (1899 – 1977) was a multilingual Russian novelist and academic, most famous for his 1955 novel Lolita. Lectures on Literature is a collection of nine lectures published posthumously, taken from his collection of one hundred lectures (!) on great novels. In this collection, Nabokov reveals how the masterpieces work, and teaches how to use imagination and memory most effectively – to enjoy “shivers of the spine”, while studying Mansfield Park, Bleak House, Madame Bovary, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Walk by Swann’s Place, The Metamorphosis, and Ulysses.

Literature is invention. Fiction is fiction. There are three points of view from which a writer can be considered: he may be considered as a storyteller, as a teacher, and as an enchanter. A major writer combines these three – storyteller, teacher enchanter – but it is the enchanter in him that predominates and makes him a major writer. … The three facets of the great writer – magic, story, lesson – are prone to blend in one impression of unified and unique radiance … There are masterpieces of dry, limpid, organized thought which provoke in us an artistic quiver quite a strongly as a novel like Mansfield Park does. (p. 5)

But, as I discovered (to great amusement), Nabokov did not always hold Austen in high regard:

“Next year I am teaching a course called ‘European Fiction’. What English writers (novels or short stories) would you suggest? I must have at least two.” Wilson promptly responded, “About the English novelists: in my opinion the two incomparably greatest (leaving Joyce out of account as an Irishman) are Dickens and Jane Austen. … Jane Austen is worth reading all through – even her fragments are remarkable.” Nabokov wrote back, “Thanks for the suggestion concerning my fiction course. I dislike Jane, and am prejudiced, in fact, against all women writers. They are all in another class. Could never see anything in Pride and Prejudice….I shall take Stevenson in stead of Jane A.” Wilson countered, “You are mistaken about Jane Austen. I think you ought to read Mansfield Park … She is, in my opinion, one of the half dozen greatest English writers (the others being Shakespeare, Milton, Swift, Keats and Dickens). … And, uncharacteristically, Nabokov capitulated, writing, “I am in the middle of Bleak House – going slowly because of the many notes I must make for class-discussion. Great stuff…I have obtained Mansfield Park and think I shall use it too in my course. Thanks for the most useful suggestions.” Six months later, he wrote Wilson with some glee:

I want to make my mid-term report on the two books you suggested I should discuss with my students. In connection with Mansfield Park I had them read the works mentioned by the characters in the novel – the first two cantos of the “Lay of the Last Minstrel,” Cowper’s “The Task”, passages from King Henry the Eighth, Crabbe’s tale “The Parting Hour,” bits of Johnson’s The Idler, Brownes’s address to “A Pipe of Tobacco” (Imitation of Pope), Sterne’s Sentimental Journey (the whole “gate-and-no-key” passage comes from there – and the starling) and of course Lovers’ Vows in Mrs. Inchbald’s inimitable translation (a scream) … I think I had more fun than my class. (pp. xxi – xxii)

After recovering Nabokov in my opinion - women writers in another class! - I read his Mansfield Park (MP) observations with great interest. I have read one of the works mentioned in MP, Lovers' Vows, but it would be an exercise on another level altogether to read all of the works mentioned in a particular work, and to familiarise myself with the character's own reading. It's quite exciting, and I think I will put it into practice with other books also. Nabokov believes there should be an, "“artistic harmonious balance between the reader’s mind and the author’s mind … The reader (must) get clear the specific world that author places at his disposal. We must see things and hear things, we must visualize the rooms, the clothes, the manners of an author’s people. The colour of Fanny Price’s eyes in Mansfield Park and the furnishing of her cold little room are important. (p. 4)

Nabokov goes on to describe reading, in interesting detail:

…The best temperament for a reader to have, or to develop, is a combination of the artistic and the scientific … If, a would-be reader is utterly devoid of passion and patience – of an artist’s passion and a scientist’s patience – he will hardly enjoy great literature. … Although we read with our minds, the seat of artistic delight is between the shoulder blades. That little shiver behind is quite certainly the highest form of emotion that humanity as attained when evolving pure art and pure science. … The brain only continues the spine: the wick really goes through eh whole length of the candle. If we are not capable of enjoying that shiver … we cannot enjoy literature. (p. 5, 64)

…Since the master artist used his imagination in creating his book, it is natural and fair that the consumer of a book should use his imagination too. (p. 4)

Time and space, the colours of the seasons, the movements of muscles and minds, all these are for writers of genius (as far as we can guess and I trust we guess right) not traditional notions which may be borrowed from the circulating library of public truths but a series of unique surprise which master artists have learned to express in their own unique way. To minor authors is left the ornamentation of the commonplace: these do not bother about any reinventing of the world; they merely try to squeeze the best they can out of a given order of things, out of traditional patterns of fiction … and minor readers like to recognise their own ideas in a pleasing disguise. ( p. 2)

At the beginning of his Mansfield Park lecture, Nabokov addresses what he calls the "space and time" issue, identifying the "time element" of the novel - the world scene, political players, etc, and then the "space element" - the family history and the Park itself. Nabokov then moves on to discussion of Jane Austen's "machinery” – her four methods of characterization utalised in MP. He identifies them as: 1.) direct description with gems of ironic wit on Austen’s part (Much of what we hear of Mrs. Norris comes in this category). 2.) direct quoted history, including mode of speech and mannerisms (example: Sir Thomas’s “elephantine speech”). 3.) reported and oblique speech and 4.) imitating the character’s speech when speaking of him.

I found Nabokov's explanation of a clergy living enlightening:

An incumbent is a parson who is in possession of a benefice, of an ecclesiastical living, also termed a spiritual living. This incumbent clergyman represents a parish: he is a settled pastor. The parsonage is a portion of lands with a house for the maintenance of the incumbent. This clergyman receives an income from his parish, a kind of tax, the tithe, due from lands and certain industries within the limits of the parish. In culmination of a long historical development the choice of the clergyman became in some cases the privilege of a lay person, in this case of Sir Thomas Bertram. The choice was subject to the Bishop’s approval, but such approval was nothing more than a formality. Sir Thomas, by the usual custom, would expect to receive some profit from the gift of the living. This is the point. Sir Thomas needs a tenant. If the living remained in the family, if Edmund were ready to take over, the income from the Mansfield parish would go to him and would therefore take care of his future. But Edmund is not yet ready to be ordained, to become a clergyman. Had not Tom, the elder son, been guilty of debts and bets, Sir Thomas might have given the living temporarily to some friend to hold until Edmund’s ordination, with no profit to himself. But now he cannot afford such an arrangement, and a different disposal of the parsonage is necessary. Tom only hopes that Dr Grant will soon “pop off,” as we learn from a reported speech with characterises Tom’s slangy manner and also his light carelessness for Edmund’s future. (p. 17)

Well, I'm stuck! There is such an amount of interesting material in this lecture, but I am at risk of dragging this post out waaay to much. Perhaps it needs two parts. I will wind down now (not even quarter the way through the lecture!) with a brief mention of alluded literary works early in the novel.

Nabokov turns to the "first big conversational piece in the book" - where the Crawfords, Rushworth, the Bertram's and the Grants are shown in speech. The subject of the conversation is gardening, which, “from the age of Pope to the age of Henry Crawford was a chief amusement of cultivated leisure. Mr. Humphrey Repton, then the head of his profession, is introduced by name. Miss Austen must have seen his books on drawing-room tables in the country houses which she visited. She misses no opportunity for ironic characterisation” (p. 22)

Mrs Norris’s “baron apricot tree” story follows, and her laments of Mrs Norris’s poor health and consequent uselessness (more or less). Here, “the inedible apricot, nicely corresponds to the late sterile Mr Norris – this bitter little apricot is all that Mrs Norris’s long voluble speech about her improvement of the grounds and all her late husband’s labours are able to produce.” (p. 23)

Nabokov then discusses Fanny’s tendency to quote poetry, or at least allude to it during her conversations, often with Edmund. He says, that, “we must bear in mind that in Fanny’s time the reading and knowledge of poetry was much more natural … and widespread than today. Our cultural, or so-called cultural, outlets are perhaps more various and numerous than in the first decades of the last century, but when I think of the vulgarities of the radio, video, or of the incredible, trite woman’s magazines of today, I wonder if there is not a lot to be said for Fanny’s immersion in poetry.”

I have to add – the “trite woman’s magazines of today” – this was written in the 50s, or thereabouts. How Nabokov would shudder (and much worse) at today’s magazine culture!

He quotes William Cowper’s poem “The Sofa” at length, as Fanny quoted it to Edmund – Ye fallen avenues! – and then moves on to Fanny’s poetic allusions, this time in the chapel at Rushmore’s Sotherton. Nabokov informs that Fanny is quoting loosely from Sir Walter Scott’s The Lay of the Last Minstrel. I had no idea!

I will continue reading the lecture, and if anything extremely interesting grabs me, I will post it. I'm currently reading Nobokov structural analysis; Mansfield Park's breakdown into themes and motifs. Very interesting. Lectures on Literature is worth reading for this reason alone.

Mansfield Park pics from: Thrushcross

Friday, 18 April 2008

Mariana's Tom & Jane Portrait

A very big "thank you" to Mariana for emailing us her gorgeous interpretation of Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy, together. It's beautiful, Mariana!

Pic 1: Supplied by Mariana

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Maria's Fan Vid - "It Must Have Been Love"

Maria has just created her fourth Becoming Jane fan vid, and it's gorgeous! Thank you, Maria. :)

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Jane Austen Mini Survey

Dear friends – where to begin? I have just begun my first year at university, studying for my English degree (wohoo!) and until now had all but fallen off the planet, as Vikings and Beowulf sometimes have that effect … I’m so happy to be back in the Team Jane world, and look forward to becoming a regular on the scene again. But, enough babble. Earlier in the year Team Jane discussed “Mini Austen Stats” – and as Jane brought us together, it only seems fitting that we share our individual “Jane discovery”. Please comment with your own Jane experience – how did you discover her world?

I discovered the wonderful world of Jane Austen when I was twelve, courtesy of the BBC’s (amazing) adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. I laughed, and laughed and swooned (a little, or more) my way through the dvds – gosh, videos, they were then (!) and was won over by the unique characters, wit and charm. I read the book, and then Emma, and then every other novel, complete or otherwise, and after that there was no turning back. My bookcase has a dedicated Austen shelf (or three) and under sane circumstances I would be embarrassed to admit how many different editions I own of the same book – but not with Jane. You can never have too much Austen. Classic literature is more than art, or "just" books – to me these books are friends.

Favourite book: Emma and Pride & Prejudice.

Favourite character: I can’t choose. And it’s no easier to choose my least favourite character. This is Jane Austen!

Favourite Hero/Heroine:
Knightley, Darcy. Emma, Elizabeth Bennett. (I can’t help myself!)

(Today’s) Favourite quote(s): This should be short and snappy, but hey! I think that would be totally out of character. I cannot think of a single Austen passage or quote that I love above all others. I can for Dickens and Bronte, but not Austen. There are too many gorgeous quotes in Austen that I love: hilarious, witty, tender, tragic as they may be. So I’ll share two favourites that never fail to make me laugh … badly.

But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way. - Northanger Abbey.

Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted? – Pride & Prejudice

Favourite adaptation: The magnificent Pride & Prejudice 1995, followed by Emma (Kate Beckinsale) and Sense & Sensibility 1996. I adore these three adaptations. Pride & Prejudice is incomparable. It really is. A&E’s Emma was love on first viewing – I love the casting. Ang Lee’s Sense & Sensibility is just lush - gorgeous cinematography and soundtrack, wonderful casting, and most of all a complete emotional journey.

In summary, I credit Jane Austen with setting me on my life path through my love of classic literature and film. Among many other things. Long live the wit and wisdom of Jane Austen!

Pic 1: Jane Austen from: Eashant's
Pic 2: Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennett from: BBC
Pic 3: Barbara Leigh-Hunt as Lady Catherine de Bourgh from: BBC

Saturday, 12 April 2008

'Sense & Sensibility 2008' and 'Miss Austen Regrets' DVD package!

It's true! I cannot believe I missed this news... but better late than never, I suppose.

So here we have it dear friends: Sense & Sensibility 2008 and Miss Austen Regrets DVD package from for only $ 24.49! Consider it a decent price for an excellent SS adaptation, and we have a bonus of Miss Austen Regrets!

What are you waiting for? I'm ordering mine soon!

Monday, 7 April 2008

More brilliant analysis from Mariana!

Dear friends, I just want to post another analysis from Mariana, another brilliant one of course, about the similarities between Jane Austen’s characters and her plight with Tom Lefroy. Enjoy!

During my research for ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I was struck by the similarities between Jane’s characters in almost all of her books and what we know about her and Tom Lefroy. Here are some samples:

The gentlemen are more or less dependent on their rich relatives (Tom Lefroy’s dependence on his great uncle Langlois):

Frank Churchill is dependent on his aunt and uncle, who will certainly oppose his match with Jane Fairfax. There is the fear that his aunt would disinherit him as a consequence.

John Willoughby is dependent on his aunt, Mrs. Smith. She does not approve of Willoughby’s behavior toward Miss Williams, and when he will not marry her, she disinherits him.

If they are rich then family and friends will interfere trying to stop their marriage (Tom’s family most likely considered this relation as imprudent):

Charles Bingley by his friend Darcy

Anne Elliot by Lady Russell and her father

Edward Ferrars by his mother and sister

Henry Tilney by his father

There are secret engagements (here Joan K. Ray maybe was right with her article– Tom’s engagement to Mary Paul):

Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax (before meeting Emma)

Edward Ferrars and Lucy Steele (4 years before meeting Elinor; he was 18 -19 years old at that time)

Willoughby leaves Marianne, whom he loves, and becomes engaged to Miss Grey, who has a large fortune

Close and older female friends are advising against or hope for a union (Mrs Anne Lefroy’s relation and role in their love story):

Lady Russell advised Anne Elliot to reject Frederick Wentworth

Mrs. Taylor-Weston hoped that Frank Churchill will marry Emma (but he is already secretly engaged to Jane Fairfax)

Most definitely there is some “ill usage” (Joan’s article will not be that far from the truth at least in Frank Churchill’s case):

Frank Churchill flirts with Emma only to divert attention from his secret love for Jane. He is not heartless and claims he only flirted with her because he thought Emma knew his secret.

Willoughby (Marianne’s first love) falls in love with Marianne, but he does not respect her reputation, giving her large gifts and spending time with her in private. He does not think of the consequences of his actions.

Mr Bingley made everyone to believe that he will get engaged to Jane Bennet but he leaves her without a word and being influenced by his friend he will not return to her in almost 12 months.

Most of the heroines are at the same age or pretty close to Jane’s age when/after she met Tom Lefroy. A major difference is in Marianne Dashwood and Catherine Morland’s age:

Anne Elliot 19

Fanny Price 19

Elinor Dashwood 19

Emma Woodhouse 20 (nearly 21)

Jane Fairfax 20 (same age as Emma who does not like her, though she cannot come up with a reason. Mr. Knightley thinks she is jealous, and Emma later realizes she is. Note that Mary Paul was about the same age as Jane Austen– she died in 1858 at age 84)

Elizabeth Bennet 20 (nearly 21)

Jane Bennet 22 (nearly 23)

Marianne Dashwood 17

Catherine Morland 17

Older sisters do not approve their brother’s choice and have “great expectations”
(Tom’s older sisters probably had the same hopes for him):

Mrs. John (Fanny) Dashwood does not approve of Edward marrying Elinor (or Lucy). It is most important that he marry someone wealthy.

Caroline Bingley hopes that her brother will forget Jane Bennet and will marry Darcy’s only sister, Georgiana.

At least in 2-3 books we have a direct reference to the ‘Irish connections’:

Mr. Dixon is the Irishman who is Miss Fairfax's benefactor. He once saved Miss Fairfax from drowning, and Emma imagines that they are in love. She shares this piece of invented gossip with Frank Churchill, not knowing he was attached to Miss Fairfax. The name 'Dixon' becomes a secret code, one with which Mr. Churchill teases Jane.

Frederick Wentworth has “more air than one often sees in Bath. Irish, I dare say”. Lady Darymple and her daughter are happily claimed as “family connections among the nobility of England and Ireland” in Persuasion.

Emma Watson’s aunt makes an imprudent marriage to an Irish Captain in The Watsons.

Great analysis, Mariana! Might I add re: the ages of the characters that Frank Churchill was about three and twenty when Emma first met him; it was also Cassandra’s age (Cassie was born on 9 January 1773). By then, Tom Lefroy was only a bit younger; he was twenty years old on 8 January 1796. It’s also interesting that the birthdays of Cassie and Tom were back-to-back, this would make it harder for Jane to forget Tom’s birthday, and I bet Tom to forget Cassie’s birthday (and Jane as a consequence).

I will post another finding from Mariana re: Sense & Sensibility calendar in a day or two. Meanwhile, thanks a lot, Mariana!

Pic 1. Marianne and Willoughby (Ang Lee, 1995) from Video Detective

Pic 2. Elinor and Edward Ferrars (BBC, 2008) from The Telegraph UK

Pic 3. Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax (Emma, 1996) from Boots and Bonnets