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Jane Austen News – Issue 35

The Jane Austen News has discovered a Pride and Prejudice Ballet!What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  Pride and Prejudice At The Ballet       Stage adaptations of Jane Austen have become increasingly popular in recent years (we look at one such adaptation later on in this week’s Jane Austen News). We’ve had one-woman shows, Jane Austen musicals, Jane Austen improv, but one we personally haven’t come across before is one of Jane Austen’s novels staged as a ballet. However Ballet Fantastique will be doing just that. Their first show of the 2016-17 season is bringing back a 2012 premiere, Pride and Prejudice: A Parisian Jazz Ballet. “We’re taking the classic Jane Austen novel and remixing it with 1920s Paris,” said their marketing director Katey Finley in a recent interview. “A live band will be wearing snazzy suits and playing live period jazz along with great choreography, like doing The Charleston en pointe.” How fantastic is that?! A Book Of One’s Own Orion recently bought the novel Perception by Terri Fletcher, which will chronicle the life of Mary Bennet, the third Bennet sister, after Jane, Elizabeth and Lydia leave Longbourne. In the past all of the Bennet sisters have at one time or another seen the spotlight and had new adventures written about them, but a recent blog post by Alicia Kort has got us thinking on the subject of literary women whose stories deserve further exploration. What other strong female characters in literature deserve their own novels but as of yet haven’t been given one? Alicia suggests; Hermione Granger (The Harry (more…)
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Jane Austen News – Issue 23

The Jane Austen News View of BathWhat’s the Jane Austen News this week? Bath One of the Best Literary Breaks in the UK     According to Travel Weekly Bath is one of the top ten UK cities to visit for a literary break. While many authors have lived and visited Bath over the years, including Charles Dickens and Mary Shelley, the focus of Travel Weekly‘s literary break in Bath was, of course, Jane Austen. We were delighted to see that one of their recommended highlights of Jane Austen’s Bath including visiting the Jane Austen Centre, and also staying during September for the Jane Austen Festival. Other destinations which made the top ten were Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury, Sherlock Holme’s London, Beatrix Potter’s Lake District and Brontë Country (Haworth/Top Withens/Thornton). Writing Women Onto The Stage Via Jane Austen Kate Hamill was fed up with the lack of female roles onstage, so she decided to do something about it. The result was her award-winning adaptation of adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. “I had been an actor for many years,” Hamill said, “and was frustrated because oftentimes when you’re a woman, you’re competing with 400 other actresses to play someone’s wife… girlfriend… prostitute.” She explained the lack of strong, complicated heroines, such as those created by Austen, on stage: “most adapters are not young women.” As such she became an adapter herself. This spirit of creating the stories (or in this case creating the roles) which you want to read (or play) is very much in the spirit of Jane (more…)
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Jane Austen News – Issue 22

The Jane Austen News - Romantic NovelsWhat’s the Jane Austen News this week? History Lessons Via Romantic Novels    Writing for the History News Network, Robert W. Thurston, Professor Emeritus of History at Miami University, has proposed the idea that, rather than teachers and textbooks, a lot of the historical information many people learn nowadays comes from romance novels. Sales of romance novels climbed to $1.08 billion in 2013 and continues to grow. The Romance Writers of America (RWA) found in a 2014 survey that 64 percent of readers went through at least one book a week. It’s not only women that are reading more historical romances either. Women comprise 78% of readers, but the men’s share has risen to the remaining 22%, up from just 7% in a 2002 survey. Historical romances give us vital information on the everyday lives, customs, manners and important events of the eras in which they are set. Jane Austen for example teaches us that society was focused on marriage; that money today is not worth what it was back then (£10,000 a year? Peanuts today); and a whole host of other things. Romance novels, Thurston says, are undeserving of their frivolous reputation. The vast and growing popularity of romances should not be cause for alarm; no one can stand at the ocean’s shore and make the tide retreat. Rather, the academy would do well to consider the influence of these books on the public mind and to see in courses, scholarly work, and public discussions what steps might be taken (more…)
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Bride and Prejudice: 2004

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must have no life without wife.

Obviously, something was lost in translation between the 1813 novel and the 2004 film, but the sentiment in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and in Gurinder Chadha’s Bride and Prejudice is the same. Society, our audience, has expectations of us all. We can conform, like Charlotte Lucas, and be granted a modicum of respect, however grudging, from the Lady Catherines of the world. Or we can do the unexpected, like Lizzie Bennet, and brave the wrath that is sure to follow. There’s a heavy price to pay either way.

The modern filmmaker is given a similar choice when she dares to adapt Jane Austen. She can attempt a period piece costume drama with bonnets and riding boots, as in the Keira Knightley/Matthew Macfadyen Pride and Prejudice. However, in attempting to meet the purist expectations of the novel’s most ardent admirers, the filmmaker is practically guaranteed to fail. Some history buff or another will note a flower blooming in the background that failed to make its way to England until say 1830. Someone else will take issue with the colour of a dress, that dye not being available before 1860, and another person will be absolutely appalled by the actresses’ makeup. Or, the filmmaker can flaunt convention and blaze a new trail, like Frank Sinatra crooning “I did it my way.” Not only has Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha taken the road less traveled, Chadha has chosen to boldly go where no man has gone before. She takes Jane Austen to Bollywood, and we should all be grateful that she did.

Like Bridget Jones’s Diary and Clueless, Bride and Prejudice is not a line by line reenactment of the novel. It is an enjoyable romp under the guise of what if Jane Austen’s characters were living in our modern world? The answer seems to be that they would do and say very much the same things. This reaffirmation of the human spirit has to be reassuring to the viewer, and it seems unlikely that dear Aunt Jane would be much surprised to find us so little altered in 200 years, or 2,000 miles. Continue reading Bride and Prejudice: 2004

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Jane Austen Novels Books life and times

Jane Austen Novels Books Life and Times


Jane AustenIt is truth universally acknowledged that the author of these opening words, which are among the most famous in English literature, is perhaps the greatest writer the English language, indeed any language, has known, bar Shakespeare.

One might find it hard to think of a time when Jane Austen’s novels was not a byword for romantic fiction, and Pride & Prejudice, where the above quote derives, the last word on it. But there was, of course, such a time and this lasted up until the early years of the nineteenth century.

Once her novels began to be published, however, they came at a rate that would make Stephen King proud: Sense & Sensibility (1811); Pride & Prejudice (1813); Mansfield Park (1815); and Emma (1816). Add to this quartet the posthumous publication of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion in 1818, a year after Austen died, and it becomes one of most impressive canons of any writer.

For all the popularity of the novels during her lifetime, however, it was not until after her death that Jane Austen’s name became widely attached to them, having originally published them under the pseudonym A. Lady. And it is not until the last two decades has she achieved the world prominence reserved normally for pop stars and screen idols.

The question still remains though as to what exactly makes Austen so immensely popular in the modern day. The television and film adaptations have gone a long way, of course, but the fact remains that her books were being read, enjoyed and acclaimed more than a century before the first screen outing ever appeared.

Continue reading Jane Austen Novels Books life and times

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Oxford World’s Classics: Sense and Sensibility

sscover08bookSense and Sensibility By Jane Austen Introduction by Margaret Anne Doody Review by Ellen Moody I was delighted when Laurel of Austenprose asked me to join her in writing reviews of the recent reprint of the Oxford standard editions of Austen’s novels. I’d get to gaze at the different covers, read introductions, notes, appendices, and if any were included, illustrations. As you might have guessed, I’m one of those who partly chooses to buy a book based on its cover. I enjoy introductions (occasionally more than the story they introduce), get a kick out of background maps and illustrations, and especially ironic notes. Looking into the matter I discovered I’d have to sleuth what if anything was the difference between these new reprints and the earlier reprints of James Kinsley’s 1970-71 edition, from which all the subsequent Oxford texts have been taken. Why after examining the early texts did Kinsley made the choice to reprint R. W. Chapman’s 1923 edition of Austen’s novels with some emendations? Hmm. My curiosity made me unable to resist checking the Oxfords against the other editions of Austen’s novels I own. In the case of Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, a novel I first read when I was 13 and the one closest to my heart, I own 14 different editions and reprints, and French and Italian translations. The more cynical and less devoted reader of Austen may well say, wait a minute here. What would be the point or interest, since probably the differences in (more…)
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Country Dances used in the Films

Whether it’s Henry Tilney’s observations about country dances and marriage or a Mr. Darcy or Mr. Elton giving offense at not being willing to dance, Austen’s wittiest or most crushing revelations often come on the dance floor. Because these scenes are so crucial, film makers have endeavored to “get them right”, time and again. But where can you find copies of the music that is so evocative of such a pleasant period or scene? Continue reading Country Dances used in the Films