Posts Tagged ‘Pride and Prejudice’

It has been pretty quiet on the blog for the last two months or so, as everything from a very busy year caught up with me! Unfortunately life has the tendency to do that some times, and it seems to happen most often at Christmas time.

On the subject of Christmas, one of my presents this year from my long-suffering husband was the mini-series Lost in Austen. I remember seeing some of it on TV a few years ago, but I felt so upset to see the storyline all mixed up that I couldn’t bear to watch it all. It must have just been a stage I was going through at the time, because this year I decided to put it on my present list!

Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper) in Lost in Austen (2008).

Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper) in Lost in Austen (2008).

The story centres around a young lady, Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper), who lives in Hammersmith, London. She has a passion for Jane Austen and, in particularly, for the book Pride and Prejudice. On one rather peculiar day she discovers Miss Elizabeth Bennet standing rather awkwardly in her bath. This elegant regency lass had found a secret doorway leading from her attic in 1813 to Miss Price’s modern day bathroom. But after Amanda steps through the doorway to check it out, it slams shut leaving Miss Bennet behind to navigate a world of mobile phones, electrical appliances, and speeding vehicles.

Lost in Austen (2008)

In the bathroom in Lost in Austen (2008)

Poor Miss Price is likewise in a dilemma! Not only is she locked in a world that she does not belong to, she is quick to realise that the events from her favourite novel are about to radically change without Elizabeth Bennet present. And how devastating would it be for an Austen fan to realise that they were the means by which a perfect storyline could be forever destroyed?

What follows is a series of blunders as Amanda desperately tries to orchestrate the meetings of those characters who need to meet, and similarly attempts to prevent some characters from getting too close. Mr Bingley and Jane, Mr Collins and Charlotte, and NOT Mr Wickham and Lydia. She even resorts to convincing them of the affection which they should hold towards each other.

When you stop to think about it, losing the main character from any story would quite naturally radically change it, and the loss of Elizabeth is no exception. Suddenly, Bingley is attracted to Miss Amanda Price instead of Miss Jane Bennet; Jane then has no reason not to think of matrimony with Mr Collins; Charlotte Lucas is promptly left “on the shelf”; Bingley is heartbroken when the fair Jane slips through his fingers; and so it continues. The ravages that occur to a storyline when its main character is unavoidably absent!

Here that sound? That’s Jane Austen spinning in her grave like a cat in a tumble dryer.

The worst thing about this movie is that I didn’t know how it would end. (And that is just-a-little hang-up of mine… I really don’t like not knowing the ending! That is probably the reason why I enjoy movies based on historical novels… movie producers don’t tend to change the ending of a classic storyline, how ever much they meddle with the middle bits.) It felt awful to see the storyline reduced to a shambles! Charlotte Lucas deciding to be a missionary, Jane Bennet miserably unhappy, and no one to tempt Mr Darcy to get off his high horse so he can pollute the shades of Pemberley. Something deep inside me still insisted that the story should somehow have a happy ending, regardless of the cyclonic trail of demolition that had wreaked its havoc. And somehow – against all the odds – it did!

One of the things I did like about this movie is that the theme within the novel – that of Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth’s prejudice – still flows through the movie and its characters despite the altered storyline. Darcy is still proud, and he still comes to regret his pride. The only alteration is that of Amanda’s prejudice, that she is initially convinced she should love Mr Darcy but instead finds him unbearable.

If I dream about him tonight, I shall be really angry! I am going to dream about him. Well, in my dream I hope you choke! Hateful man.

Overall, I found this movie funny and lighthearted. It is always interesting (and amusing) to imagine what sort of mess would happen when modern life has a mid-air collision with Regency times. And this movie is precisely a depiction of what you could expect!

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Every Savage Can Dance!

On Love, Shakespeare and Marianne Dashwood

Sources and Relevant Links

Lost in Austen (2008) – the mini-series

Image Source: Penny for your Dreams (This blog post is a great summary of the storyline for the first episode.)

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What would you do if you found out your very own Aunt Jane was the famous author of Sense and Sensibility?

A watercolour painting of Jane Austen, by Cassandra Austen

A watercolour painting of Jane Austen, by Cassandra Austen

Jane Austen was a very private person and throughout her career as an author she seemed to shrink from the personal acclamation that arose from the publication of her novels. Whilst her literary pursuits had always been celebrated within her immediate family circle by being read, performed and discussed, very few of her friends read her novels in their draft form.

Her first publication seemed to be a great secret; Sense and Sensibility, a novel, By A Lady, was published in 1811. Her immediate family did know of the pending publication; her brother, Henry, had acted on her behalf with the publishers, and her mother and sister were left at Chawton while Jane went to London to read the proofs before the novel’s publication. But Jane did not tell her niece, Anna, aged 18 at the time and to whom she was close. David Cecil, in his biography, relates an incident where Aunt Jane and Anna were perusing books together in the library:

…the two of them, looking at the novels in the Alton Circulating Library, saw Sense and Sensibility lying on the counter. Anna picked up the first volume. ‘It must be nonsense with a title like that’, she said and put it back again. Jane watched her amused and silent.

Jane had always expressed her desire to remain an anonymous writer and so was quite dismayed when her brother Henry spilled the secret to some acquaintances in 1813, concerning the author of the newly published Pride and Prejudice.

In 1814 Mansfield Park was published, and it was sometime in this year that Jane’s nephew, Edward Austen (later Austen-Leigh), son of James Austen, discovered that his Aunt Jane was a famous author. He was only sixteen at the time and, on finding out the truth, wrote the following poem to his Aunt.

No words can express, my dear Aunt, my surprise
Or make you conceive how I opened my eyes,
Like a pig Butcher Pile has just struck with his knife,
When I heard for the very first time in my life
That I had the honour to have a relation
Whose works were dispersed through the whole of the nation.
I assure you, however, I’m terribly glad;
Oh dear, just to think (and the thought drives me mad)
That dear Mrs Jennings’ good-natured strain
Was really the produce of your witty brain,
That you made the Middletons, Dashwoods and all,
And that you (not young Ferrars) found out that a ball
May be given in cottages never so small.
And though Mr Collins so grateful for all
Will Lady de Bourgh his dear patroness call, 
‘Tis to your ingenuity really he owed
His living, his wife, and his humble abode.
Now if you will take your poor nephew’s advice, 
Your works to Sir William pray send in a trice;
If he’ll undertake to some grandees to show it,
By whose means at last the Prince Regent might know it,
For I’m sure if he did, in reward for your tale,
He’d make you a countess at least without fail,
And indeed, if the princess should lose her dear life,
You might have a good chance of becoming his wife.

By Edward Austen-Leigh, Jane Austen’s nephew.

By 1815 many people had discovered the name of the famous authoress, even the Prince Regent. Instead of making her a countess, as Edward Austen had suggested he should, the Prince invited her to ask his permission to dedicate her next novel, Emma, to him. She did so, more because she did not wish to cause offence to such an august person than because she was delighted by the idea.

Her last two novels, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, were published posthumously in 1818. Her brother, Henry, wrote a biographical notice in the preface, announcing Jane Austen to be the author of these works and sharing with her readers some of the history of her life and her last moments on earth. He also mentioned her particular aversion of publicity.

Most gratifying to her was the applause which from time to time reached her ears from those who were competent to discriminate. Still, in spite of such applause, so much did she shrink from notoriety, that no accumulation of fame would have induced her, had she lived, to affix her name to any productions of her pen. In the bosom of her own family she talked of them freely, thankful for praise, open to remark, and submissive to criticism. But in public she turned away from any allusion to the character of an authoress.

In short, she wrote for the pleasure of entertaining her family and friends, rather than the public acclamation that comes with publication. So what would you do if you discovered your own Aunt Jane to be a famous authoress?

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Christmas with Jane Austen

Sources and Relevant Links

A Portrait of Jane Austen, by David Cecil – buy on Amazon

The Letters of Jane Austen, the Brabourne edition – read online

Biographical Notice of the Author, by Henry Austen – read online

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I recently re-read one of my favourite books, Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I had intended to do a post with a little blurb of the storyline and a little bit of my amateur text analysis and maybe some reflections on the themes. However, there seemed a hundred-and-one websites to find such information, and I resolved that I should not rehash that which has already been written, and probably by a person more skilled than me!

Instead, I thought I might show you how I share my love of literature, in particular Pride and Prejudice, with my like-minded friends. I got the idea after seeing a card that a fellow card-maker had made.

“Miss Eliza Bennet,” said Miss Bingley, “despises cards…”

When I saw my friend’s card, I distinctly remember feeling a sudden and intense feeling to rush straight home (maybe even running some red lights) to read the book again! I remember really enjoying that feeling. Almost an awakened desire. And I remember thinking what a cool gift that is to give to someone.

Mr Darcy stood near them in silent indignation at such a mode of passing the evening…

That weekend, I hightailed it to the second-hand shop and searched for a copy of Pride and Prejudice amongst the piles of discarded paperbacks. Ten minutes and two dollars later, I was heading home with my creative juices fairly pouring!

She could only imagine, however, at last, that she drew his notice because there was a something about her more wrong and reprehensible, according to his ideas of right, than in any other person present.

Once I was seated at my craft table, I promptly opened the book, scanning the pages for a suitable text. I had never been so eager to begin tearing pages out of a book before!

Chapter Eight: At five o’clock the two ladies retired to dress, and at half-past six Elizabeth was summoned to dinner.

I decided, in order to increase the enjoyment of the card, the entire page of text should be visible so that you could read the full script across the page. Nothing would annoy me more than to have a page chopped up into pieces that rendered the text unrecognisable.

“It is from Miss Bingley,” said Jane, and then read it aloud.

I also decided that it would be cool to match the text content to the type of card it was going to be. So maybe a wedding text them for a wedding card. Or a sickness text theme for a get well card. Or a gratitude text theme for a thank you card. It doesn’t always work that way, but it is cool if it does!

“I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love,” said Darcy.

To this day, this has remained one of my favourite themes for card-making. As you can tell by the similar nature of most of these designs, I often sit down and make about ten at a time. These are the only ones I have left at the moment. They are pretty simple but, for my fellow literature-lovers, they are cards that really stand out!

“My dear Miss Eliza, why are you not dancing?”

Since I first got this great idea, I have made cards featuring other literature texts, including Romeo and Juliet, and Anne of Green Gables. Maybe I might share some of these with you another day!

Cards are my cup of tea!

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Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen – read online

A book review of Pride and Prejudice

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Sir William Lucas: What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr Darcy! – There is nothing like dancing after all. – I consider it as one of the first refinements of polished societies.
Mr Darcy: Certainly, Sir; – and it has the advantage also of being in vogue amongst the less polished socieites of the world. – Every savage can dance.

Chapter 6, Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.

I have always loved dancing. Not ballet or jazz or tap, but old-fashioned couple dancing.

As a child I was often taken to bush dances or barn dances by my parents and I grew to love it. More recently I have been involved with folk dancing and colonial dancing. It has the added advantage of creating a great excuse to dress up and wear some of my period costumes too!

Here is a short movie compilation of the dance scenes in various Jane Austen movies.

Dancing is my cup of tea!

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My Regency Journey: The Destination!

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Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen – read online.

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This week I received a special gift in the mail from a friend. It was a little children’s board book, but what got me most was the title!

Pride and Prejudice; a BabyLit book

It is a basic baby’s counting book, using some common items mentioned in Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice.

2 Rich Gentlemen

It is so cute!

4 Marriage Proposals: My favourite page!

My favourite page is the one showing four marriage proposals!

Mr Collins to Lizzy: “We Shall Marry!” “No Way!”

Mr Darcy to Lizzy (first time): “Marry Me?” “NO!”

Mr Darcy to Lizzy (second time): “Please Marry Me?” “YES!”

Mr Bingley to Jane: “Will You Marry Me?” “Oh Sure!”

This book is one of the BabyLit series, by Jennifer Adams, which tailors literature classics for pre-reading young children. Some of the other books in this series are: Jane Eyre, Romeo and Juliet, and Alice in Wonderland. They are published by Gibbs Smith and illustrated by Alison Oliver.

My two angels, having their first introduction to good literature!

Baby’s literature! This is my cup of tea!

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

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BabyLit website

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When my husband told me (with undisguised glee) that Pride and Prejudice was being re-written and re-sold as “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, I honestly thought he was joking. I mean, who would believe a husband that thinks the movie “28 Days Later” is a romantic comedy? (For those who don’t know, this is the one where the Rage virus turns people into flesh-eating madmen and infects everyone in Great Britain. Charming, really.)

In order to relieve my apparent discomfort, he quickly did a search for the horrendous item on the internet, ordered it, paid for it, and it was delivered to me by a kindly, graying postman (who evidently knew nothing of the ghastly and obscene nature of the contents of that said parcel). I was horrified!

My husband finished the last chapter of the current book he was reading (as he believes it is a mortal sin to have two books on-the-go at once, whereas I have a teetering pile on my bedside table which is threatening to imminently collapse and kill any unsuspecting family member who might be sleeping on the bed), and promptly opened the new piece of blasphemy.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

After a while I grew used to the terrifying image of grotesque-ness, staring at me from the front cover as I lay on my side of the bed, and I began to be interested in just how Seth Graham-Smith had changed this piece of prized literature, especially when I learned that 85% of the book had been untouched. But by the time my husband began reading aloud to me – “In vain I have struggled, it will not do” – I was sold! What a great book! It had transformed my science-fiction-loving, Star-Wars-nut of a husband into an Austen quoter! Miracle of miracles!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Illustration

"Elizabeth lifted her skirt, disregarding modesty, and delivered a swift kick to the creatures head."

So, despite my purist approach, I had to read it. I launched into the first page with anticipation, derived from the fact that my husband had actually enjoyed it (his exact words: “It was ok”). And then I realized this unmentionable volume – passing itself off as literature – was even complete with perverse illustrations! Fancy that!

I must admit, it was hard to read. To see my most treasured lines of literature warped into zombie-madness was difficult. What was slightly more unsettling was the minor alterations to the storyline. Whilst the plot was not materially changed, it was altered enough to discomfort a more traditional Austen reader.

This reader’s discomfort turned to disgust when Elizabeth handed Mr Darcy the ammunition for his musket and said, “Your balls, Mr Darcy”, to which he replied (with what is supposed to be handsome chivalry), “They belong to you, Miss Bennet.” Indeed, I am sure the bile would rise in any enamoured Austen-lover’s throat.

Now, some of you Austen enthusiasts may object to the poison injected into your favourite story, as I initially did. You may also echo my cry: “how could a mere man have the gall to put his name next to the immortal Jane Austen’s?” But, as I see it, there is an upside! Whilst I am still a little disturbed to read about my favourite heroine’s antics with a ninja knife, I am prepared to capitulate! Any book which gets my husband interested in anything RESEMBLING Pride and Prejudice, well, it’s my cup of tea!

Dawn of the Dreadfuls, by Steve Hockensmith

In fact, it was so popular in our household that there will be several new additions to our family library soon. Some senseless person has made a prequel AND a sequel to this book: Dawn of the Dreadful, and Dreadfully Ever After!

Dreadfully Ever After, by Steve Hockensmith

Disturbing even-more-so, the zombie tide is taking no prisoners: the next one to infect Austen literature is Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters!

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters

The next issue for contention: should my husband’s new irredeemable publications be shelved next to my own pure and refined volumes of time-honoured pride and joy?

Have you read any of these books? Were they your cup of tea?

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