The Very Secret Diary of Henry Tilney

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(with apologies to Cassandra Clare for borrowing her schtick)

My Vampyre, Let Me Show You ItDay 1: Rode to Bath. Found lodgings. Went to Lower Rooms. Danced with Miss Morland. Pretty girl, suspect she might have misunderstood the muslin bit. Oh well, it’s not like I’m going to marry her or anything.

Day 2: Rode back to Northanger. Staked two undead in garden after tea. I really am sick and tired of all these vampyres. Totally out of holy water. What kind of Abbey do we live in, anyway, with no secret stash of holy water?

Day 3: Howling ghost kept whole castle up all night. The governor sneered at breakfast, “Can’t you do a simple exorcism, Henry? What good has that expensive Oxford education or cushy living I set up done for you? Frederick hasn’t cost me a cent since I bought his commission, except those bills for Madam Dominatra’s House of Lacy Unmentionables. The boy must be keeping half a dozen mistresses by the size of them. That’s my boy!” Mistresses! Ha! That’s what he thinks.

Day 4: Bloody hell. Vampyre hiding behind tapestry, in sliding panel. Staked him, but that was a sneaky one. Might be losing my touch. Perhaps should move to Woodston permanently. Leave for Bath tomorrow. Not a moment too soon.

Day 5: Went to Rooms, saw Miss Morland. Asked her to dance. She said she was engaged, but didn’t dance with anyone until the next dance, when she accepted a troglodyte out of obvious desperation. Looked like an ugly customer I staked in the hermitage walk last year. So did the girl I ended up dancing with, come to think of it. Miss M. definitely misunderstood the muslin bit. Oh well, it’s not like I’m going to marry her or anything.

Day 6: Eleanor came home from Pump Room and teased me about acquiring an admirer. She meant Miss Morland. Hmm. Perhaps she understood the muslin bit after all.

So, Gentle Readers, what did you think of the new film?

ETA: This blog post was made possible by a generous contribution from Period Film Pedants International, who remind you that while Miss Morland would no doubt be delighted to ride in a curricle with Mr. Tilney…THAT WASN’T A CURRICLE.

Screencap for macro ganked from Solitary Elegance, we hope with Heather’s forgiveness if not permission

The Complete Jane Austen News Roundup: Are They All Horrid? Edition

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Felicity JonesARE they all horrid? Our Gentle Readers have judged the latest adaptation of Persuasion and found it lacking; next up, Northanger Abbey.

Several Alert Janeites, alarmed and horrified to find Andrew Davies holding forth on Jane Austen on the front page of CNN (we’re not snarking, you should read the e-mails), sent us a link to this article. We were a little surprised to see so many e-mails about it, as we were fairly certain we had already snarked this particular piece, but alas, no. It’s just that we’ve read it all before.

Her work, Davies argues, “is not just social comedy. It’s about money, struggle for individualism, sex — all the kinds of things that interest us now. People sometimes misinterpret that. Jane Austen is regarded as such a prim writer. Well, she’s not, really. The engine of her plot is often sexual desire.”

Are we all taking notes? Good. Continue reading

The Complete Jane Austen News Roundup: The Air Is Full Of Spices Edition

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Northanger Abbey is up Sunday night, and Team Tilney trembles in anticipation, for whatever value one wishes to place on “trembles.”

Two reviews of the new film have been posted on PBS’ Remotely Connected blog. AustenBlog’s own Cub Reporter Heather L. has written a thoughtful and perceptive review that highlights what is enjoyable about the adaptation as well as why so many of us who love the novel were disappointed with it.

The challenge in adapting Northanger Abbey – or any Jane Austen novel – is to capture the wit and telling details which define a character or scene, and give such keen insight into human nature. These lift Jane’s novels above the myriad boy-meets-girl stories (even though they may share the same plots) and give her timeless and universal appeal.

[. . .]

It’s entertaining, but details that made the story special (and worth adapting in the first place) are gone.

We highly recommend that you check it out. Mr. Tilney would approve.

Fashion blogger Natalie Zee Drieu has a most harmless delight in being fine, and her review includes a Best Bonnets lineup.

The press coverage, unsurprisingly, focuses on the extra dash of Andrew Davies special spice that has been given to this new adaptation. And we just threw up a little in our mouth as we were typing that.

The New York Daily News seems to have swallowed the propaganda whole. (Now, do not be suspecting us of a pun, we entreat.)

“Northanger Abbey,” the first novel Austen completed, was not published until after her death, and Catherine in some ways feels like an early draft of later Austen figures like Elizabeth Bennet. But Catherine has a distinct character of her own, and her dreams reveal a restless, visceral spirit that some today will argue reflects Austen’s own.

*stares*

*blinks*

*squints*

*reads again*

No, it still says the same thing; we are not hallucinating.

For the record: Catherine is not a prototype of Elizabeth Bennet, as though Jane Austen wrote the same heroine six times; nor is she a portrait of the author (for crying out loud!). She is a parody of the typical heroine of the Gothic and sentimental novels of her time. She is a parody in her ordinariness and imperfections, and like Henry Tilney, we come to love her for them, not in spite of them. She is a brilliant creation from the wonderfully humorous and ironic imagination of Jane Austen, who was a genius.

We also are highly amused by the single spammy comment to the article! HA! (And you wonder why we have the Occasionally Overzealous Spam Filter on AustenBlog. Isn’t it worth getting caught occasionally to keep our little playground here free from that sort of thing? Not to mention keeping the Editrix from setting her hair on fire as she cleans 500 spam posts off the blog?)

Andrew Davies was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition (thanks to Alert Janeite Jenn for the heads up). We caught a bit of it but had to turn it off before it was over. It’s the usual “Jane Austen is all about sexy sex” stuff from what we could determine. You can listen to it at the link.

Alert Janeite Susan sent us a link to an article on the series in the latest issue of Newsweek, which is most remarkable for one of the first reviews of Miss Austen Regrets.

What trumps these three Austen adaptations is the series’ bonus, “Miss Austen Regrets,” a surprisingly good fictionalized biography. Beautifully acted—especially by Olivia Williams in the title role—it focuses on the last years of Austen’s life and displays a richness and wit often missing from the new films. Austen’s novels always end with a wedding, but this biopic opens with one, where the spinster Austen is a guest. As the happy couple—her niece and her bridegroom—burst out of a picturesque country church, they pass among the gravestones. The shadow of death isn’t far in this autumnal tale as it explores the question: did the author who wrote so magically of true love regret never marrying? “This is the real world,” Austen tells another niece. “The only way to get a man like Mr. Darcy is to make him up!” Yet middle-aged Miss Austen still loves to dance, to flirt (“I’m still a cat when I see a mouse,” she says) and, most of all, to match wits. She’s had some literary success, but she and her family, like many of her well-bred characters, suffer financial misfortune. As her novels do, this film points up the precarious position of women who lived outside the security of marriage to a man of means. The house she shares with her mother and sister resembles that in “Sense and Sensibility,” which will be the final PBS film. You may wonder how this new version compares with the first-rate 1995 Ang Lee-Emma Thompson movie. Then again, comparing competing Austen films has become half the fun.

That’s because you don’t have to moderate the “comparisons.” 😉 (Not that such considerations should hamper our discussion! Keep it lively, Gentle Readers!)

The way she's running, you would think the Borg Queen was chasing her or something

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We were very much amused by the latest YouTube madness: a parody of the final part of Persuasion 07, with Anne running through the streets of Bath accompanied to the music from, in turn, Chariots of Fire, Benny Hill, and Run, Lola, Run.

Thanks to Alert Janeite LauraGrace for the link!

Alert Janeite Julie sent us a link to a rather amusing page on the PBS Complete Jane Austen site: The Men of Austen. First the command: Show the Men! Oh, if it were always that easy!

We were further amused by the “personal ads” for each gentleman. For instance, Henry Tilney’s interests are listed as: “Reading, dancing, fashion, shopping, storytelling, spending time with my sister.” *falls over laughing* Poor Henry! Don’t worry, your acolytes still love you even amidst your undeserved public humiliation. Nonetheless, we chose Tom B. as “Our Man” because of his artistically flowing locks. Yum.

The only article not a rehash of everything we’ve heard before was in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, which included this tidbit:

The bottom line is this. If you’re a fan of Austen’s feisty females (and millions are ), you’re in for a treat each Sunday night for the next three months.

Or maybe not.

I watched three of the preview DVDs with an Austen aficionado of my most intimate acquaintance and she informed me the productions were “uneven.” I’ll have to take her word for it since I’m no great Austen expert.

Wow! He committed actual journalism. How refreshing.

The Complete Jane Austen News Roundup: Information Overload Edition

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Sally Hawkins as Anne ElliotWith Masterpiece Theatre hanging its hat rather desperately on The Complete Jane Austen to introduce its new brand to the world, the media coverage is, as expected, rather overwhelming.

First we must point out PBS’ Remotely Connected blog, which will feature guest reviews of each film from the online Austen and blogging communities. First up is Ms. Place of the Jane Austen’s World blog on Persuasion. Laurel Ann has the lineup of future guest reviewers–some familiar names in that group. 😉

The LA Times discusses the Masterpiece rebranding.

The only way to alter such an iconic series is “very carefully,” said John Boland, chief content officer for the Public Broadcasting Service.

It had been obvious that “Masterpiece Theatre” needed to rethink its image in light of revolutionary changes in television and media, said Rebecca Eaton, executive producer of “Masterpiece Theatre” for the last 22 years. Studies had shown that viewers identified the series with PBS, admired its high quality and consistently drew a respectable 1.8 to 2 average household Nielsen rating. The series was beloved by an ardent fan base — as evidenced by numerous parodies, including “Mouseterpiece Theater,” “Rastapiece Theater” and “Master P’s Theater.” It was the most cited reason why people became members of their local public television stations and, most significant, the reason they stayed. But lately some viewers have become confused by shifting time slots and mixed expectations.

“What we wanted to know was why aren’t more people watching it and what would it take to attract a younger audience?” said Bob Knapp, president of Neubrand, a marketing and brand consultant. Viewers had told researchers they perceived the series as a “dusty jewel that was hard to find in the PBS crown,” Eaton said. They wanted to know whether to expect “Jane Eyre” or Jane Tennison, “Bleak House” or “White Teeth”?

The result was a compromise between changing everything or changing nothing, Knapp said, the literary equivalent of “brand new look, same great taste.”

It should be noted that a point is cleared up that troubled a few of us: Continue reading

NA07 preview in Midland, Texas (we think)

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This article at MyWestTexas.com has a nice little event for those in the area–a preview of NA07 with tea (sigh. Afternoon tea. Not high tea. Sigh) today from 4 to 6 p.m. at “Barnes and Noble,” because there’s only one of those. (D’OH!) A search of the Barnes & Noble website brought up this store in Midland, TX. You might want to call ahead. 🙂

The Complete Jane Austen News Roundup: Our Kingdom for Some Duct Tape Edition

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We are a little concerned, as Alert Janeite Cinthia, who alerted us to the broadcast of Persuasion (2007) in Mexico last weekend, noticed that some scenes were cut from the original broadcast on ITV. She did a little investigating, and discovered that all of the films being presented on Masterpiece Theatre will have some scenes cut, though full versions will be available to those who purchase the DVDs. We suppose those of us suckers who donated money to PBS in support of Masterpiece Theatre don’t deserve full versions. We are exceedingly put out. It’s not like they need the time for advertisements, and several of the films are too short as it is. Remember, Masterpiece Theatre Is Made Possible By Viewers Like The Editrix, Who Has The Premium Coffee Cup To Prove It.

Duct Tape Now that we’re good and cranky, it’s time for the Two Minute Andrew Davies Hate. We really don’t hate him, of course, but we probably would be a lot less cranky if he would just shut up. Nothing a little judiciously-applied duct tape couldn’t fix.

This popularity surrounds someone who wrote only six books, following plots that now seem standard.

“All the basic stories are in all kinds of trashy romantic novels,” says Andrew Davies, who adapted four of the six novels for the PBS project. “(A) young girl who has disadvantages (and) things in her way gets a man who’s probably rich, handsome, loving, etc.”

Oh, that Emma Woodhouse, she was so disadvantaged.

Some women played music or sang or read. The key Austen characters — especially Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” — spent much time outdoors.

“She runs everywhere,” Davies says. “She’s got an excess of energy. I think that running everywhere in Jane Austen is a key for being highly sexed, having not enough to do with your body.”

Can somebody please show us all these examples in Pride and Prejudice where Lizzy is running? Not the movie, the book. Please show us. She walks a lot, and when walking to Netherfield to see Jane, she walks at a “quick pace,” but she’s certainly not “running everywhere.”

Matt Roush at TV Guide likes Persuasion well enough.

Strike, schmike. This winter, my favorite TV writer may just be the immortal Miss Austen.

The Capital Times has an article…

They play the piano forte.

They hide their affections for those brooding sorts.

They know their own minds and love to read.

They are the island of common sense in a sea of idiotic relatives and acquaintances.

They speak of “understandings” and “attachments.”

And they’ll be all over PBS this winter and spring.

Just as there’s been no escaping Jane Austen’s heroines in popular culture the past few years, they’ll be coming weekly as PBS’ “Masterpiece Theatre” kicks off “The Complete Jane Austen” on Sunday with a lush production of “Persuasion.”

…as does The Phoenix.

The idea behind most recent Austen adaptations (including the 2005 Pride and Prejudice) seems to be that Jane’s old-fashioned sensibility needs to be updated to suit modern tastes. The irony is that it’s her old-fashioned sensibility that made her popular in the first place.

Not necessarily for everyone. 🙂

The Guardian profiles Olivia Williams, who plays Jane Austen in Miss Austen Regrets.

She admits the plate-spinning of balancing work and parenting did send her “a little bit crazy” in the summer, when she was working on a forthcoming BBC film called Miss Austen Regrets. In an interview last year, Williams criticised the “lazily colloquial” script. But, as with so much else in her life, the finished film proved to be “different from what I envisaged, which is wonderful. It’s much more intangible than your average biopic, the choice of shots gives it a very European feel. It showed me how much I still have to learn.”

About film, or about media training? 😉

Since the Golden Globes have been, for all intents and purposes, canceled, we would imagine quite a few viewers might turn to PBS. Prepare to be boarded, Janeites!

Thanks to Alert Janeites Anna and Lisa for the links!