The Complete Jane Austen News Roundup: Are We Outraged Yet? Edition

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As we mentioned previously, the news flow around The Complete Jane Austen is slowing down some, but has not completely stopped. We found a common theme among some of the latest items: either they express outrage at the latest crop of adaptations, or spark outrage in the reader.

Alert Janeite Surreyhill sent us a review of Mansfield Park from the Flick Filosopher, who apparently took Agent Scully’s ridiculous introduction of MP07 a little too much to heart.

There’s a term for characters like Fanny Price: Mary Sue. And it’s not a particularly nice term. Mary Sues are stand-ins for the author, the author idealized, as Fanny surely must be for Jane Austen in Mansfield Park. Fanny is beautiful, kind, faultless yet modest, noble of heart and spirit but of humble origins that prevent her from being spoiled. She is, in a word, perfect. Fanny may have pleased Austen herself, but she makes for less than compelling drama for the rest of us, at least in the new adaptation of the novel that just aired on Masterpiece Theater, and lands on DVD today.

WRONG. WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG.

And misses the whole bloody point of the book. Thanks for playing, enjoy your lovely parting gift. (And we’ve thought of another Fact About Fanny Price: Fanny Price knows you don’t like her, and knows it doesn’t matter.)

Alert Janeite Lisa sent us an interview with Virginia Newmyer, who was to lecture on Jane Austen films at the Corcoran, and expresses her opinions very, um, decidedly.

» EXPRESS: Do you think that, overall, the film adaptations have done a good job at capturing Austen’s novels?
» NEWMYER: I can’t say that, because they started adapting “Pride and Prejudice” [practically] in silent films. They’re not all good. I’ve seen most of this stuff and I know the books quite well. I mean, Andrew Davies did the miniseries adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” — that was absolutely wonderful — but he’s done some of these things that are on television this January that are not worthy of him or of Jane Austen.

I don’t insist on faithful adaptations. One of the best adaptations is Patricia Rozema’s adaptation of “Mansfield Park” and she turns it into a modern look at Jane Austen. “Mansfield Park” is the most problematic of Jane Austen’s books — of the good ones — and Rozema removed all the problems.

*head explodes*

There’s more. Keep reading. We shall retire to Bedlam.

Theresa Hogue expresses genteel outrage with the films so far in the Corvallis (Oregon) Gazette Times. We enjoyed it up until…

Of the three so far that have aired in the series, I can safely say that “Northanger Abbey,” was not only faithful to the text,

Not really. How much more “delightful” would Henry Tilney have been if he had been allowed the witty and intelligent dialogue that Jane Austen gave him, instead of a watered-down rewrite?

Many Gentle Readers are no doubt rolling their eyes at the Editrix once again beating that particular dead horse, but this shows why it’s important.

Northanger Abbey, another Masterpiece Theatre piece, was the first of Austen’s novels to be published.

WRONG!

From a modest family, Catherine’s interactions with the group, coupled with her increasing jump into a fantasy land, make it an interesting concept but a flawed story.

As we were saying…

It shows all the hallmark of a writer struggling to find her voice, and the film reflects it.

Uh, no. The narrator in Northanger Abbey is confident and knows exactly what she is doing. Don’t blame Jane Austen for bad rewrites of her work.

Despite all evidence, we’re still looking forward to Miss Austen Regrets this weekend, not having heard any real evil of it (and the producers having presumably learnt from the experience of Becoming Jane to not attempt to dress up a Made Up Story in truth’s clothing and shine on the Janeites with it)…though the reviews are not exactly promising.

Laurel Ann Nattress has written a review for PBS’ Remotely Connected blog:

I admire how the story succeeds in interweaving moments that parallel scenes or lines from Jane Austen’s novels, or is it scenes or lines from her life that make it into her novels? Art imitating life and it is believable. We see Jane represented honestly and with integrity as a strong woman who made a decision to write instead of marrying without love. Her choices would be against the norms of society, disappointing her family and adding pressure and financial stress in her life. How could anyone not regret the outcome of such adversity?

Ms. Place doesn’t hate it, but is dissatisfied.

I won’t review the entire film for you. Just suffice it to say that if I had been the director of this tale, I would have emphasized that single women do find fulfillment in pursuing their talents, in nurturing family relationships, and in being true to their vision. I wish the plot had dwelled more on the creative, talented side of Jane, instead of her constant worry for money.

And Maureen Ryan at the Chicago Tribune thinks it’s a mess.

Far from shedding light on what made Austen a peerless examiner of the human condition, “Miss Austen Regrets” is an irritating, poorly paced misfire.

Ouch! But this part made us happy:

scenes of Jane ruthlessly, even cruelly, satirizing well-meaning clerics and clerks behind their backs.

HA HA! Can’t wait! What was that about Miss Jane Austen would find sarcasm the lowest form of wit again? 😛