We Are Still Learning Things About Jane Austen

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Prinny

The Editrix is fond of saying that everything is known and has been written about Jane Austen, which explains why there so often is Austen-related nonsense in the media. When “they” have run out of facts, it stands to reason that “they” resort to making stuff up.

However, today we stand corrected, as in the past two days two fairly interesting and quite likely new facts about Jane Austen (or, at least, somewhat related to her) have been discovered and published in the media.   Continue reading

Your Sunday Austen Meditation

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Church of AustenologyA day late, because we just thought of it.

From Sense and Sensibility, Volume I, chapter XVII:

“What magnificent orders would travel from this family to London,” said Edward, “in such an event! What a happy day for booksellers, music-sellers, and print-shops! You, Miss Dashwood, would give a general commission for every new print of merit to be sent you–and as for Marianne, I know her greatness of soul, there would not be music enough in London to content her. And books!–Thomson, Cowper, Scott–she would buy them all over and over again: she would buy up every copy, I believe, to prevent their falling into unworthy hands; and she would have every book that tells her how to admire an old twisted tree. Should not you, Marianne? Forgive me, if I am very saucy. But I was willing to shew you that I had not forgot our old disputes.”

For all those who claim that Edward Ferrars is not amusing or witty: read the above, and think again. Here endeth the lesson.

That sense of impending…something or other

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The rewritten, modern-set Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope is due out later this month, and other distinguished authors have been lined up to rewrite Jane Austen’s novels for modern consumption: Val McDermid for Northanger Abbey, Curtis Sittenfeld for Pride and Prejudice, and Alexander McCall Smith for Emma, with two more authors to be announced later this year for Mansfield Park and Persuasion. Harper is calling this six-book series the Austen Project.

Our own feelings about this project are decidedly mixed. We are pleased by the accomplished authors who have been asked to participate, but frankly there are some red flags here in our opinion, the first of which is the fact that they apparently aren’t even changing the names of the novels. That seems to us potentially confusing to readers at best and disrespectful of Jane Austen at worst.

And really, do they think this is something new? They can’t possibly be pretending not to know about the dozens and dozens of modern-set Austen rewrites, both by authors attempting to be literary and those simply seeking to entertain. It’s like those attention seekers who proclaim that I AM WRITING PRIDE AND PREJUDICE WITH TEH SEXYTIMES IN IT like no one’s ever done it before; and then they wonder why we swing the Cluebat. We truly hope we won’t have to with this project, but we’ve noticed that what Janeites want and expect and what the Commercial Publishing Complex delivers tend to be very different things. Compare and contrast, for instance, the reception of Death Comes to Pemberley by the Greater Public and the mainstream media (good) and the reception in the Janeite community (reviled).

That being said, we will give Ms. Trollope’s S&S retelling a try, and report back to our Gentle Readers. It doesn’t really matter whether or not these books are any good, either; we (meaning Janeiteville, and the reading public in general) will be inundated with hype over the books. Brace yourselves.

Sense and Sensibility Dramatization on BBC Radio 4

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BBC Radio 4 will broadcast a radio dramatization of Sense and Sensibility in two parts. Part 1 is available to listen to right now and for the next week (we can listen to it here in the U.S., so hopefully it is worldwide). A couple of old friends have been spotted in the cast list: Amanda Hale (Mary Musgrove in P07) as Elinor and Blake Ritson (Edmund in MP07, Mr. Elton in E09) as Colonel Brandon. There’s also a blog post by the adapter, Helen Edmundson, with a photo of some of the cast members.

What Would Elinor Do?

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Sense and Sensibility IllustratedWe were delighted to have the Jane Austen Bicentenary Library edition of Sense and Sensibility featured this month by the Jane Austen Centre at Bath’s online magazine!

And since we had to make another bracelet (we had made our own on a whim) to photograph for the tutorial, we have a giveaway to celebrate this special issue: the bracelet we made in the tutorial, along with a copy of the Jane Austen Bicentenary Library edition of S&S: ebook or paperback–your choice. To enter the contest, leave a comment below, with a valid e-mail address in the e-mail address field (only the Editrix will be able to see it, and we need it to contact you should you win to find out where to send your prize). The bracelet is about seven inches long; if you need a bigger or smaller bracelet, we can remake it if you win, so don’t let that keep you from entering the giveaway. ETA: Please post your entry by 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on Saturday, April 28! In other words, right before midnight, which is technically Sunday, April 29.

ETA: The ebook is available from your favorite ebook store (try searching on “Margaret C. Sullivan” or “Cassandra Chouinard” to find this particular edition) or directly from Girlebooks or Smashwords.

The paperback is available from Librifiles, the hard-copy publishing arm of Girlebooks. See the link for a 20% off code if you buy from Librifiles, and there is a link there to Amazon. It’s also available from B&N.

Thanks as always to Laura Boyle, editor of the JA Centre’s magazine, for featuring the book. It is always fun to have the opportunity to think about Jane Austen’s novels and to write about thinking about Jane Austen’s novels, if that makes sense!

Reader Review: Sense and Sensibility, Repertory Theater of Iowa

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Review by Ben Millett

My wife Katie and I attended the 11 June production of a Sense & Sensibility staged reading. The new adaptation by Kerry Skram was performed by the Repertory Theater of Iowa at Terrace Hill, the Iowa governor’s mansion. A light supper of carrot-ginger soup, a chicken salad sandwich and open-faced cucumber sandwich, grapes, and apple slices was served. We were seated with seven of the other 40 or so attendees. Five had previously attended productions at Terrace Hill and were not necessarily Janites. The others at the table had a cat named Bingley, so it should be obvious why they were at a performance of a Jane Austen adaptation. We had an enjoyable discussion during supper about our favorite of Jane’s novels and some of their adaptations. Continue reading

Celebrating 200 Years of Sense and Sensibility

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Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary ChallengeLet the celebration begin! In 1811, Jane Austen’s first “darling child” was published. We’re here to tell you that’s a pretty monumental event in any author’s life. There will be celebrations of the novel going on all year, but they’re kicking off in fine style over at Austenprose with the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge. We’re going to participate, so there will be some cross-posting over here on AustenBlog, and we would like to invite our Gentle Readers to participate as well. Laurel Ann will explore not only the actual novel, but paraliterature, non-fiction, and films related to it–and for all our complaining about She Wrote Five Other Books, You Know because of many writers’ obsession with P&P, there still is an impressive and varied selection of books and films to choose from. You can consume one piece of media or as many as you like. Directions for participation are included in the post at Austenprose. Check it out, and party with us in this auspicious year!

If that’s not enough reading for you, Laurel Ann has set up a reading challenge just for Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen Mysteries. Regular AustenBlog readers probably know that the Editrix is a big fan of this series, and it sounds like a great way to try them out, or fill in the gaps of any you might have missed.

Also, some fans of historical fiction have set up a Historical Fiction Challenge with dozens of participating bloggers; and November’s Autumn is hosting an Elizabeth Gaskell Reading Challenge at Gaskell Blog. So nice to see that many agree with us that Books Are Nice!