An Interview with Whit Stillman

Standard

Love  Friendship Blog Tour graphic banner

This interview is part of the Love & Friendship Janeite Blog Tour celebrating the release of the novelization of the film Love & Friendship, itself an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan. We conducted it in the spirit of the novel (check out the link to Austenprose above for more information about it) and Mr. Stillman was kind enough to play along. 

Sir:

We have read Mr. (or should it be Signor?) Martin-Colonna’s little effort in refuting what he considers libelous untruths about Lady Susan Vernon. Firstly, we feel that we must register a protest in defense of the Divine Goddess whom Mr. Martin-Colonna has been pleased to refer to as the Spinster Authoress, being a member of that race ourself. We Spinster Authoresses must not desert one another; we are an injured body.

Mr. Martin-Colonna being a man, he very possibly does not understand his privilege: Men have had every advantage of women in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. Thus, women have had a disadvantage from the beginning, and we think deserve some protection from such boldly offensive behavior as Mr. Martin-Colonna’s towards Miss Jane Austen.

Also it seems to us that the “Spinster Authoress” upon whom Mr. Martin-Colonna has heaped such scorn would have pointed out that he (that is, Mr. Martin-Colonna), like many men, at least when it comes to Lady Susan, tends to use a different organ for thinking than that which the Creator provided for the purpose. But perhaps we are speaking out of turn.

And now to the questions for Mr. Whit Stillman, whom we presume to be the editor of Mr. Martin-Colonna’s energetic defense of his aunt, Lady Susan.

An Initial Reply:

First, in the way of a preface, I have greatly enjoyed following my interlocutor on twitter and blog. [*blush* –Ed.] Those working on the film found especially helpful the wealth of research and insight on the websites devoted to Jane Austen and to the Georgian and Regency eras. Continue reading

Whit Stillman May Save Us All

Standard

Now, this is movie news we are actually excited about! News came out last week that Whit Stillman is casting his next movie, which will be a modern take on Lady Susan called Love and Friendship (spelled correctly; and yet we still had a “Bwuh?” moment).

Yesterday, the New York Post reported that Stillman had hit Manhattan to start casting on this next movie, which he teased thusly: “It’s based on a funny but obscure late 18th-century work that reads a bit like an Oscar Wilde play.” But according to sources close to the production, that 18th century work is actually Jane Austen’s little known and perhaps less celebrated “Lady Susan,” and it will be adapted into a film currently titled “Love And Friendship.”

Sharper and sexier than the Austen you might know, and perhaps more in line with the works of Oscar Wilde, the story follows a widowed woman trying to find a husband for herself and her daughter. In a break from other books of the time, Lady Susan is active in pursuit of a new beau, and yet has a relationship to a married man as well. Of course, how Stillman puts this basic premise through his own filter remains to be seen, but it’s intriguing material nonetheless and something we could see him having great fun with.

The article also says that Stillman was previously working on an adaptation of The Watsons, but curiously doesn’t mention Metropolitan, Stillman’s 1990 film about rich kids in New York that was loosely based on Mansfield Park. If you haven’t had a chance to see it, try it and see what you think. (It’s available on Netflix streaming, if that service is available to you.)