The Janeite Times No. 6

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Several Alert Janeites let us know the delightful news that Herself is related to our new favorite heroine, HRH the Duchess of Cambridge, née Catherine Middleton.

Anastasia Harman, a Washington, D.C.-based historian for the family tree-researching Web site, says that Middleton and Austen are eleventh cousins, six times removed. The connective glue between them? A man named Henry Percy, a very distant great grandfather to both women who died back in 1455.

The relationship is through Kate’s father and Jane’s mother.

And, as readers of “Sense and Sensibility” may recall, here’s one more connection: the novel’s Dashwood women, left impoverished and homeless by an inheritance that overlooked them, wind up living in a cottage at Barton Park, the estate of distant relatives who take them in. The name of those distant relatives? Sir John and Lady Middleton.

Alert Janeites will also notice another familiar name in Kate’s family tree…Fairfax! We seem to recall (but can’t find it in a quick Google due to all the KATE AND JANE RELATED ZOMG clutter) reading that Jane Austen is related to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, meaning…Will and Kate are related. Or that if you go back far enough, EVERYONE is related.

Alert Janeite Michelle let us know that last month there was an auction of Debbie Reynolds’ collection of Hollywood film costumes, including several costumes from the 1940 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Items included a dress worn by Ann Rutherford as Lydia Bennet, a tailcoat worn by Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy, and a tailcoat worn by Melville Cooper as Mr. Collins. Michelle tells us that Mr. Darcy’s coat went for $6,500…not sure about the others. Hopefully they all went to good homes.

We enjoyed this article by Rachel Brownstein, author of the new book Why Jane Austen? (of which we hope to have a review soon), celebrating the lesser-known Austen works. No mention of Mr. Tilney, which we find disturbing.

Actress Naomie Harris has an interesting project planned:

What I’d love to do is – I’m totally in love with Jane Austen and have always been in love with Jane Austen, I did my dissertation at university on black people in eighteenth-century Britain – so I’d love to do a Jane Austen-esque film but with black people. There were black people around then when she was writing. I’d love to do that next.

Would you direct it?

No, no, no. I love working with actors but I don’t know anything about camera angles. I wouldn’t have a clue, in that respect. I am working with a friend, Damien Jones, and we have got a script. It’s getting closer and closer.

ZOMG YES PLEASE. There’s a script! Yes! Do this! Not zombies! This is better!!!!

Hartfield is for sale. At least we think that was Hartfield. Wasn’t it?

Feel free to post your own links of interest in the comments!

The Janeite Times No. 5

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Welcome to The Janeite Times, where we present links to the latest news of interest to Jane Austen fans.

Clueless About Austen No. 1: An interview with the director of an independent film called “Austin Nights” (as in the city in Texas) is a bit out of touch with popular culture, we think:

JT: Do most people pick up on the pun: Austin Nights, Austinites?

MD: No. I’m glad you did. Austinites are what people who live in Austin, TX call themselves. Like Chicagoans, or Houstonians, or Miamians. It’s a subtle way to target your specific market. Or are you thinking of devout Jane Austen fans?

JT: “Devout” Jane Austen fans. Hmm. Are there any left?

MD: I see a lot of her books in the bookstore, sometimes a couple shelves stocked with her words, so yes, I think there are Austenites out there, somewhere, but maybe they’re a dying breed, maybe our collective taste is progressing.

Perhaps this is meant as an ironic commentary on the Austen Zombie Apocalypse, but we suspect not.

Clueless About Austen No. 2: The Los Angeles Times is shocked! shocked! to find out there are Austen-related books being written with teh sexx0rs in them! As we commented on Facebook, it’s kind of sweet that they seem to think this is the first such book. We cheerfully ignored the authoress’s attention-whoring press release saying pretty much that for just that reason (that is, that it most certainly ISN’T the first sexed-up P&P paralit, and we find such claims not only mendacious but tiresome) and are kind of surprised that an august news organ found itself unable to do the same. What’s that you say? The modern press is more concerned with sensationalism and less with actual journalism? We find that hard to believe. (she said sardonically)

The owner of James Stanier Clarke’s “Friendship Book,” which contains a little painting that may or may not be of Jane Austen (but is a darling little painting in any event, and we don’t mind associating the portrait with Jane in our mind), is auctioning the book at Christie’s on “Wednesday” (we guess that means June 15). It’s expected to bring £30-50,000.

ETA: As Cinthia pointed out in the comments, “Wednesday” was actually June 8, and the auction was over by the time we wrote this post. Jane Austen in Vermont reports that the book did not sell and the top bid only reached £28,000. That’s the second example of an unsubstantiated portrait that MIGHT be of Jane Austen failing to reach the reserve price at auction. While we like these images (the Rice portrait and the Clarke “friendship” painting), we don’t know for sure that they are of Jane Austen and we can understand that it’s hard for collectors to commit the big bucks for something unsubstantiated. The BBC reports that the owner has not yet decided whether to attempt a resale.

Speaking of auctions and Jane Austen, check the sofa cushions for spare change: the partial manuscript of Austen’s unfinished book, The Watsons, will be auctioned at Sotheby’s on July 14 with an expected sale price of £200-300,000. We have to say we hope some civic-minded and wealthy Janeite will adopt these items and give them a good home–that is, one where the rest of us can go and visit them. :-)

And we had to share this link as it’s just so sweet. Cheryl Klein, a well-known children’s book editor (and whom we know to be a Janeite), wrote about a very special and romantic event set up by her gentleman friend. Read and prepare to “Awwwwww!” James is definitely a Mr. Knightley Award winner.

This is an AustenBlog DIY post, so please feel free to leave any interesting Austen-related links you’ve come across in comments.

The Janeite Times, No. 4

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Welcome to The Janeite Times, where we present links to the latest news of interest to Jane Austen fans.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a blogger and columnist at The Atlantic, has been reading Jane Austen (he calls her “Jane Awesome”) and writing a series of blog posts in which he is clearly bursting to share this thing THAT IS SO COOL THAT HE JUST READ IN A JANE AUSTEN NOVEL. First he went through P&P, and now he’s reading S&S, and just taking great enjoyment in the actual language. We’re down with that. Anyone who tries to claim Jane Austen isn’t a great stylist will have the Editrix all up in their grille.

This post, a review of a performance of 18th-century music, invokes Jane Austen.

Were the people in the 18th century as lovely and well-mannered as their music? From the novels of Jane Austen it would seem so, and certainly it could be deduced from the music played the afternoon of Sunday Feb. 27 by the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra.

It actually makes sense, kind of.

And the Obscure Jane Austen Reference of the Day Award goes to a review of The Death of Eli Gold by David Baddiel.

Twenty-five years ago, in a book on Jane Austen, the Cambridge academic Tony Tanner thanked “a student at King’s College, David Baddiel” for alerting him to the close historical relationship between the words “property” and “propriety”, which enabled his realisation that Austen is “more concerned with the dangers of impropriety than the deprivations of poverty.”

Baddiel must be the only person credited with a new insight into Austen’s work who has also written and performed a chart-topping football song (Three Lions).

Well. Yes.

The comic-book treatments of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility have been followed by a new comic of Emma, written (like the other two) by Nancy Butler, with art by Janet Lee.

This is an AustenBlog DIY post, so please feel free to leave any interesting Austen-related links you’ve come across in comments.

The Janeite Times, No. 3

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Welcome to The Janeite Times, in which we aggregate links and information of interest to the Austen fan.

A Georgian building has been saved from the wrecking ball in Tonbridge. The building is thought to have been once owned by Jane Austen’s uncle Henry. Thanks to Alert Janeite Lisa for the link.

Outfits from the People’s Choice Awards are bewilderingly compared to P&P.

The clothes were not fashionable. Many of the women looked like they had just come from shooting E!’s version of Pride and Prejudice, with the look of the night neither glam nor modern nor young, but rather that of a slovenly milkmaid.

Slovenly milkmaid? Thanks to Alert Janeite Lisa for the link.

In other fashion news, the Fug Girls hilariously (as they do everything) invoked some S&S.

I feel like this is what Marianne Dashwood would’ve looked like if she and Willoughby had ended up getting hitched. She’d be skipping through the town square, all, “Yeah, bitches, check out this fine piece. He is mighty of loin and full of breeches and you get to STEP OFF because I totally put a ring on it.” Yeah, Jane Austen would’ve enjoyed the hell out of some Beyonce, let me tell you.

Hee. Yep, Jane would have been all about All the Single Ladies. Celebrate #sns200, y’all!

Colleen McCullough is trying to get attention again by dissing Jane Austen. We do not think she deserves the compliment of rational opposition. Of course, her last attempt was derailed by the zombie train. Thanks to Alert Janeite Nichola for the link.

As always, this is an AustenBlog DIY post, so feel free to add your own interesting links below!

The Janeite Times, No. 2

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Today’s edition of the Janeite Times has an air of She’s Everywhere-ness to it. (She really is everywhere, you know.)

The Atlantic has a fascinating excerpt from a longer book by economist Branko Milanovic in which he talks about the differences in wealth of the very wealthy in Jane Austen’s world–that is, Mr. Darcy and yes, the Bennets, Gritty Realism™ aside–and the very poor, and how it was a much larger divide than it is today.

Elizabeth meets a rich suitor, Mr. Darcy, whose annual income is put (by all concerned in the book) at £10,000. Both he and his somewhat less rich friend Mr. Bingley are understandably deemed very desirable bachelors by the socially conscious (and no-nonsense) mother of Elizabeth Bennet. Mr. Darcy’s huge income places him, at the least, in the top one-tenth of 1 percent of income distribution. Note the huge gap existing between the top 1 percent and the top one-tenth of 1 percent, or, to use George W. Bush’s modern phraseology, between “the haves and the have-mores.” Although these early-nineteenth century English haves and have-mores freely intermingle socially (and apparently intermarry), Mr. Darcy’s income is more than three times greater than Elizabeth’s father’s; translated in per capita terms (since Mr. Darcy does not take care of anyone but himself ), the ratio is in excess of twenty to one.

It’s an interesting take on the book and will give some facts and figures about the economics of P&P to interested readers. Thanks to Alert Janeite Lisa for the link.

Bettany Hughes has given her Ten Greatest Women in British History list in the Daily Mail, and of course it includes Jane Austen.

She was spot on in every observation she made about both men and women – observations that still hold true today. While her writing (even though we now know that her grammar and spelling left much to be desired!) was amazingly perceptive, it still stands the test of time, 200 years later. Austen helped revolutionise the novel as a form – and still speaks to us today.

When an economist can get excerpted in The Atlantic writing about the economic basis of her characters as if they were real people*, we would have to concur.

*Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The undisputed queen of English literature.

Hear hear! *thumps walking stick heartily on floor*

A couple of bloggers who are rather less lazy than the Editrix *cough* have compiled Best of 2010 lists for the Austen paraliterature that has really become a genre of its own. Kelly Yanke Deltener, the Examiner’s Austen sequel expert, has a list not only of her reviews but of interviews with the authors. The always-energetic Laurel Ann of Austenprose has provided a list of her top 20 Austen-related books of 2010. If you got some bookstore gift certificates, perhaps you can start making a list to dispose of them.

And last but not least, check out Kelly Fineman’s excellent blog post about First Impressions vs. Pride and Prejudice–the first and final titles of Jane Austen’s best-loved novel.

Just as Northanger Abbey was, in some respects, a parody of a Gothic novel, taking Gothic elements and putting people in the real world, so First Impressions was probably initially a burlesque or parody of Burney’s Cecilia, taking the idea of a wealthy girl who needs a husband before she reaches the age of 21 (who must agree to take her surname in order for her to inherit 10,000 pounds) and flipping parts of it around – it’s not Elizabeth with the 10,000 pounds to her name, it’s Darcy (who gets 10,000/year – at least a million/annum in today’s currency by some predictions); that said, Mr Darcy has some things in common with Mortimer Delvile from Cecilia, inasmuch as both struggle with an inherent conflict between their pride and their affections.

This is just great. Read the whole thing (including the poem about The Loiterer!)

As always, this is an AustenBlog DIY post. Feel free to share your Austen-related links in comments.

The Janeite Times for December 22, 2010

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We like the idea of calling link-collection posts, which we formerly called Linkapalooza, The Janeite Times. So let it be written; so let it be done. (Sorry, wrong time of year for that movie, we guess. Though there is never a wrong time for Yul Brynner being supremely awesome.)

The Wall Street Journal noticed that Young Persons like Jane Austen and are amusing themselves by making stuff inspired by Austen on the Twitbook and the FaceTube, which we old tar-hearted dried-up spinster purist-type Janeites know nothing about. (Why yes, that was snark! How kind of you to notice!) The thing that amused us the most about that article (which in the hard copy publication was on the front page of the WSJ, with an engraving of Herself) was that we know so many of the people interviewed for the piece. Also the line, “A spokeswoman for Mr. Firth declined to comment.” Discretion always being the better part of valor where the fangirls are concerned.

Speaking of Our Gentleman of the Wet Shirt, the Telegraph reports that Mr. Firth had severe reservations about taking the iconic role, but, like Emma Woodhouse realizing that nobody could marry Mr. Knightley by herself (do we have to post spoiler alerts around here? too late anyway), he realized that no one could play Mr. Darcy but himself.

Unladylike Language Warning: Jezebel has a post about best-liked movie scripts that never got made, and demanded to know why a film rejoicing in the title F***ing Jane Austen never got made. The elevator-pitch synopsis provides a clue:

Two friends angry at Jane Austen for creating unrealistic romantic expectations among women today get sent back in time to the nineteenth century. The only way for them to return home is for one of them to get Jane Austen to fall in love and sleep with him.

What the heck did Jane Austen do to be punished like that?

Huffington Post had an article about the “strangest” Austen spinoffs in honor of her birthday. We found many of them not at all strange. Must be the tar-hearted spinster purist &c. thing coming out again.

Speaking of Jane’s birthday, Dominique Raccah, publisher and CEO of Sourcebooks, wrote a very interesting and gracious blog post apologizing for and explaining why the free ebooks promotion on Jane Austen’s birthday had so many technical issues.

And here’s a bit of fun: a “Which Jane Austen Character Are You?” quiz from Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating. (Jane Fairfax? Seriously? JANE FAIRFAX? Hrmph.)

This is an AustenBlog DIY post, so feel free to add any interesting Austen-related links you’ve come across in comments!

Linkapalooza: The Editrix Is So Behind Edition

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Hi gang! Because we have had a few very busy weeks, we are rather behindhand in posting stuff, so we’ll just get right to it.

Alert Janeite Kay sent us a link to an article celebrating Peter Firth, which is all very well (we like him, too) but…

And it’s very entertaining to see a much younger Firth playing a much younger man, Henry Tildney,

TILDNEY? TILDNEY? TILDNEY? SERIOUSLY? TILDNEY?

We are surrounded by Philistines and that’s all there is to it.

in the 1987 screen adaptation of Northanger Abbey. Tildney’s in a number of ways, a typical Austen hero: he’s sensible, he likes to read, he’s got a younger sister to whom he’s much devoted. If he weren’t a funny character, somewhat gregarious in his wisdom, Firth would be setting a precedent for Colin Firth’s (no relation) performance as Mr. Darcy eight years later.

One imagines Colin Firth sneaking up on Jennifer Ehle and whispering, “It’s a canaaaarrrrrry.” *falls over laughing, much entertained with own wit in manner of Henry TILNEY*

Novelist Lev Raphael has written a piece for the Huffington Post about Jane Austen’s fame during her lifetime and after.

The sequel to Terminator Salvation is going to be subtitled Revenge of the Regency and Christian Bale goes back to save Jane and her novels from destruction. Could there be a better date film?

SHHHH DON’T GIVE THEM ANY IDEAS. But do check out his idea for a Mel Brooks musical featuring Jane.

(In the piece, Mr. Raphael mentions the recent media fray with authors Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner complaining publicly about media treatment of commercial fiction compared to literary fiction, to which we have only to say: while we’ve enjoyed Ms. Picoult’s work, it troubles us that a New York Times bestselling author does not know the meaning of the word “lapidary.” Admittedly Michiko used it oddly in her review of Freedom, but still, we’re just saying.)

We are looking forward to the publication of a new Jane Austen Mystery from Stephanie Barron, who was interviewed in Publisher’s Weekly about the series.

What’s next for Jane?

There are so many gaps in Austen’s actual record. What I find so exciting is exploring the possibilities of unknown history. It would be fun to use 1815, Waterloo, but I may find myself going back farther in time. Last week I found myself creating a plot line set around Trafalgar, in 1805, since Jane Austen’s brother served under Nelson. There Jane is with a relative right in the middle of one of the seminal events of British history, and it’s hard not to use that. I would very much like to write up to 1817, the year Austen died. Meanwhile, Jane and the Canterbury Tale is due in 2011.

Wheeeeee! Can’t wait! (and yes please, Trafalgar!!! Bring back Lord Harold!)

ETA: To add word so sentence makes sense. Sheesh.