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Jane Austen News – Issue 138

The Jane Austen News looks at Darcy

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Mr Darcy’s Reputation Condemned At Lit Fest

Writer and podcaster Dolly Alderton delivered a controversial judgement on Jane’s most famous romantic hero, Mr Darcy, at Cheltenham Literature Festival this Sunday.

Alderton put forward her opinion that Darcy is a conceited, rude, humourless snob, who has had a dangerous effect on dating culture. She also said that Darcy was probably the first written example of ‘negging’; a phrase which was coined by the American writer Neil Strauss, in his book The Game: Penetrating The Secret Society of Pick-Up Artists. Negging, in case you (like I) didn’t know, is the act of emotional manipulation whereby a person makes a deliberate backhanded compliment, or flirtatious remark, to undermine someone’s confidence and increase the need for approval.

Alderton quoted as one piece of evidence of negging from Pride and Prejudice, the point where Darcy says (in her earshot) that Elizabeth Bennet “is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.”

When you Google Mr Darcy there are so many female apologists for his behaviour. So many say he is just shy. Women are so, so keen to preserve the romantic mysticism of Mr Darcy.

The idea that a man is there to be cracked or is hard to get or something to be won I think is very, very damaging. It should not be that difficult. Elizabeth is the prize to be won.

Alderton was taking part in a debate about which romantic hero from literature, Darcy or Heathcliff, was the worst. Hopefully Darcy fans will be able to take some comfort therefore in the fact that the audience agreed that Heathcliff, “a man who hanged dogs, beat up old women and imprisoned young women”, was worst.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 137

The Jane Austen News would lobve to visit!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


The Man Who Won A Bookshop

When Paul Morris, owner of Bookends bookshop in Cardigan, decided that he wanted to retire, he made the unusual move of raffling his bookshop off instead of putting it up for sale (it was worth an estimated £30,000 if he was to have sold it). Any customer who spent more than £20 in the shop over the past three months was eligible to be entered into the raffle to win the bookshop.

Overall sixty names were put into the raffle hat, and the winner was announced as Ceisjan van Heerden from the Netherlands. He says he will be taking over at the bookshop on November the 5th, alongside his friend from Iceland who is now moving to west Wales. Although, as if this story was remarkable enough, the pair have never actually met – but they have been friends online for nine years.

It might sound strange, but we are sure we can make it work. It is just an amazing opportunity

van Heerden

Mr Morris explained his decision to raffle the bookshop rather than sell it, and at the Jane Austen News we thought it was a charming reason, and we hope that Mr Morris has a fantastic retirement and that Bookends continues to thrive under its new management!

I thought about selling it, but I thought instead, let’s give someone an opportunity in life which they might not otherwise have had. The principle was to make sure the shop continues in good hands. I always wanted to have a bookshop, but I’ve had my stint, and now it’s time for someone else to take over.

Paul Morris

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Jane Austen News – Issue 136

The Jane Austen News learns about Colette

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


The Author Behind The Film

In the Jane Austen News last week we mentioned the upcoming film Colette, starring 2005 Lizzy Bennet actress Keira Knightley. Well since then we came across a brilliant TIME article which gave us a bit more background about the author, and we thought that you, as a fan of the pioneering author Jane Austen, might also enjoy reading a bit about another pioneering female author.

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was born in 1873 in Burgundy in France. At the age of 20 she fell in love with, and went on to marry, Henry Gauthier-Villars, then aged 34, who was the owner of a ghostwriting enterprise which published novels under the pen name “Willy”. Colette became a member of the ghostwriting team and, when there was a bad case of writer’s block and a lack of money, Henry asked Colette to write about her school days. The result, published in 1900, was the book Claudine at School, which became a huge hit and turned into the first of a best-selling four-book series.

As the books gained even more popularity, Colette and Willy argued about adding her name as an author. Eventually the books were brought out with “Willy and Colette Willy” on the covers as the publishers wouldn’t remove his name from the series until a long time after his death. Although, on the positive side, after the couple separated (following many love affairs on both sides which led to an open marriage) Colette’s talent was better recognised and she became the first female President of the renowned Paris literary society, the Academie Goncourt.

This may not sound like Austen and Colette had much in common, but their books, although very different in tone and primary subject, do have a shared theme; that of inherent human nature:

Her uncanny feminine understanding, hearty physical sympathy for the internal workings of human nerves and glands, make her a writer who cannot avoid being labeled passionate but who never runs any danger of being cheap.

Hopefully you found this brief background on Colette as interesting as we at the Jane Austen News did. The full article on Colette can be found here.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 135

the jane austen news is looking forward to seeing colette

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


In Defence of the Period Drama

Keira Knightley has been in a great number of period dramas. She was Elizabeth Bennet in the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice, Anna in Anna Karenina, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire in The Duchess…the list goes on.

As a regular actress in period dramas, Knightley has been keen to defend the genre, which is often diminished or mocked as blatant Oscar bait or air-headed fantasy. This is something which has often haunted film adaptations of Jane Austen. Her work is often reduced to only its romantic elements, and the socially satirical side of her work glossed over; as if these two elements cannot exist together.

Knightley has done her best to highlight the merits of the genre however, something she has done brilliantly while promoting her latest film Colette (more on that in a moment).

There’s a negativity around them [period dramas], because predominantly they’re female… The strongest characters I’ve found have been in period roles.

And from a 2014 interview:

When I was younger, I felt like I really was doing something wrong for doing period films. I think I’ve now got to where I can stop apologising for that bit, and go, ‘I love them, I’ve always loved them, I loved doing them.’

We totally agree! If you love period dramas, you shouldn’t have to apologise for loving them.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 134

The Jane Austen News defends the ordinary heroine

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


A Georgian Estate For £13.50?

If you’ve always dreamed of owning your own Pemberley, but lack Mr Darcy’s £10,000 a year (more like £800,000 a year these days due to inflation), then the following quirky competition may be of interest.

A couple has decided that, following disappointment as they failed to sell their pricey estate through normal channels, instead of marketing their their luxury six-bedroom mansion through estate agents, they’ll raffle it off.

Located on the edge of North London in Hertfordshire, Dancers Hill House is a Georgian grade II listed property, built in 1760 and worth more than £5.25m – but it could be someone’s for only £13.50.

The current owners, Nigel and Melanie Walsh, who have lived in the house with their family for over 25 years, decided on a raffle after realising that the difficult property market was making it near-impossible to sell the home.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 133

The Jane Austen News has been enjoyed Vanity Fair

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Taking Modern London Back to the Georgian Era

As fans of Jane Austen, and therefore potentially fans of other authors whose stories are set in the early 19th century, you may or may not have had the new TV adaptation of Vanity Fair marked out as required viewing this weekend. Those of us at the Jane Austen News certainly had “Sunday 2nd September, 9pm, ITV1” written firmly in our diaries. If you did see parts 1 and 2 of ITV’s latest period drama this week, then you’ll already know what a fantastic job Olivia Cooke did as Thackeray’s rather flawed heroine Becky Sharp!

However, though Vanity Fair has stellar performances from the likes of Olivia Cooke, Michael Palin and Frances de la Tour in it, it also has incredible attention to detail by way of the settings and costumes. So what did the crew have to do in order to take modern London back in time to the Georgian era? Lots of green screening it would appear!

We hope you enjoyed seeing the transformations as much as we did.

Parts 3-7 of Vanity Fair will air over the coming Sunday evenings at 9pm on ITV1.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 132

The Jane Austen News has a look at a first edition sale

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Bookseller Wanted…In The Maldives!

Philip Blackwell, scion of the bookseller family is advertising a vacancy that might just be the dream job of any sun-loving bookworms. He is looking for a bookseller to work at what is possibly the world’s most remote bookshop, based in the luxury eco resort of Soneva Fushi in the Maldives.

The successful candidate will need to be happy to hold the job for at least three months, which doesn’t seem like too much of an ask as far as the Jane Austen News is concerned. Job responsibilities will include keeping “an entertaining and lively blog that captures the exhausting life of a desert island bookseller”, as well as selling books to A-list celebrities and their friends. Applicants should have “a passion for books, the ability to engage guests of all ages”, as they will need to be able to entertain children with storytelling and host creative writing courses for guests.“

The Maldives shop is a part of Philip Blackwell’s Ultimate Library business. After having trouble finding good reading material while on his holidays, Blackwell thought of creating library collections for resort hotels. To date, Blackwell’s Ultimate Library business has more than 250 library/bookshop projects around the world. For every hotel library supplied, the company also helps donate a reading and reference library to a local institution that can benefit those who live nearby.

Time to give your CV a dust off?

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 132

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A Contrary Wind by Lona Manning – A Review

A Contrary WindA Contrary Wind by Lona Manning Jane Austen is one of the most popular authors in English literature, and for that reason there have been a huge number of books and stories written that have been based on her work. These have ranged from the excellent to the shockingly bad. Lona Manning’s A Contrary Wind falls firmly in the excellent category. A Contrary Wind picks up the story of Mansfield Park at the point which Fanny, her cousins, the Crawfords, and Mr Rushworth and Mr Yates are putting on a performance of Lovers’ Vows whilst her uncle is away. In Austen’s original Mansfield Park, Fanny’s uncle, Sir Thomas Bertram, returns before the play can be performed and puts a stop to proceedings. In A Contrary Wind, Manning imagines what might have happened had Sir Thomas not returned and derailed the party’s plans. As the book continues this sees Fanny take hold of her independence and become a governess – leaving Mansfield Park and the demands of her Aunt Norris behind. Naturally this causes some members of the family to resent her for what is seen as ingratitude after all they feel they have done for her (aside from making her feel like a second class citizen within her own ‘home’), but nevertheless, Fanny forges ahead with her new life. For those Austen readers who consider Fanny Price to be too insipid and too timid to be a heroine whom they like, the more spirited side of Fanny Price shown in (more…)
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