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.
From Captain Wentworth’s Travel Journal: Visiting Victory is ‘one off the bucket list’ So Admiral Horatio Nelson has been something of a hero of mine for… well, for as long as I can remember. My hero worship started (believe it or not) with Star Trek’s very own Captain James Tiberius Kirk. When William Shatner accepted the role he had trouble getting into the head of the starship captain whose ship and crew were more important to him than his own life. He asked the shows creator Gene Roddenberry for help in finding the character’s motivation and Roddenberry suggested he read the Hornblower novels by C.S. Forester. Everything you need to understand Kirk resides with Hornblower – his courage, his self doubt, his sense of duty. From there it was a short hop to the wonderful Patrick O’Brien novels and more recently the phenomenal work of Julian Stockwin and Dudley Pope. From there further still, the real life stories of the men and women who served as inspiration to these novelists – Lord Cochrane, Edward Pellew, and of course Admiral Nelson. It is because of my naval history obsession that I was able to turn up for work on my first day at the Jane Austen Centre with my own historically accurate costume. An Admiral’s dress coat and white ‘smallclothes’, breeches, stockings, waistcoat appropriate to a Napoleonic officer. I was most fortunate to be ‘offered the part’ of Captain Frederick Wentworth. I put the badge on for the first time and (more…)
One of the joys of re-reading Jane Austen’s novels is finding something new each time, bringing with it a deeper understanding of her characters and the society in which they live. Although Austen is known as a romance writer (and, I would argue, the inventor of modern romance structure), I find her illustration of family dynamics to be the most appealing aspect of her work, and the reason she has fans around the world, across time and culture. She invites us into her life and times, and we recognize ourselves and our families in her characters.
Sometimes a re-read lets me see something I’ve missed the dozens of reads before. For instance, in Pride & Prejudice, when Jane catches cold and has to stay overnight at Netherfield, I had read the book countless times before it occurred to me that this wasn’t a ‘Regency thing’. It was just as embarrassing for Jane as if it had happened to someone in the 21st century. Mrs. Bennet’s brazenness in engineering the whole thing became even worse when I looked at it from that standpoint. Can you imagine — going to a stranger’s house for tea and then having to stay overnight for days? And the doctor has to come? Poor Jane!
Austen Superpowers: Self-Awareness & True Love Kindly reproduced here with permission from its author, Laurie Viera Rigler, who is also the author of the popular Jane Austen Addict novels. Can self-importance, meddling, and delusion be considered superpowers? Hardly. And yet, the self-congratulating and clueless titular heroine of Jane Austen’s Emma rises above being the character that Austen thought that no one but herself would like. In the course of the story, Emma has a series of aha! moments about herself. More important, she acts on that self-awareness. via GIPHY –Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, a brilliant adaptation of Emma. In a Jane Austen novel, a lady can only earn her cape by acknowledging that there are are huge cracks in what she once thought was the truth. Once she tears down that wall of delusion and replaces it with wisdom, the heroine-in-training develops more self-awareness, more self-empowerment, and more capability to create happiness than she ever had before. That is what Emma does. For that is what Austen superpowers are all about. Emma’s Austen superpower #1: Acknowledging one’s cruelty and choosing kindness instead. Emma realizes – with the tough-love help of her dear friend Mr Knightley – that she really was unconscionably cruel to the babbling Miss Bates at the Box Hill picnic. For Emma, Knightley’s confrontation is a painful moment of self-awareness. But instead of retreating in angry pride or mortification, Emma attempts to make amends, paying a visit to Miss Bates, humbled and penitent, and works hard to restore herself (more…)
Pride and Prejudice and “Universally Acknowledged” “Truths”
by Seth Snow
[Note: Throughout this essay, when I refer to specific words from Pride and Prejudice¸ I will put these words in quotation marks.]
Jane Austen’s readers are quite familiar with the opening line of Pride and Prejudice:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
This passage raises several issues. Firstly, marriage is obviously important to characters in this novel. Secondly, “universally acknowledged” would mean all members of this particular society are aware, likely even in agreement, of the “truth” concerning wealthy single men who “must be in want” of wives. Consequently, when a wealthy man comes onto the scene, the socially “acknowledged” expectation is that these men “must be in want” of a wife solely due to their single status and financial status. Whatever thoughts or feelings on marriage that these wealthy men may have are secondary to the “acknowledged” “truth.” The same can be said for single women: their thoughts and feelings on marriage must align with this “universally acknowledged” “truth”; while some women privately may object to “universally acknowledged” “truths,” we do not get the “wife’s” point of view in the opening line. Therefore, a single woman is expected to marry whichever “single man in possession of good fortune” proposes to her. Finally, it is important to note that the narrator does not say “the truth” but rather “a truth.” “A truth” suggests that other “truths” are not “acknowledged” and that it is not the only “truth” out there. This particular “truth,” however, has become “universal” because norms of society “acknowledge” it is “true” and the minds of its members have been conditioned by these norms. Being different or thinking differently initially means remaining single in the world of Pride and Prejudice.
An Exclusive Preview of A Pride and Prejudice Inspired Novel What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean “My impetus to write What Kitty Did Next was born of the simple fact that my idea of what Catherine Bennet looked like didn’t accord with her portrayals in either the 1995 BBC TV series of Pride and Prejudice, or the 2005 film. Which is not to denigrate either of those productions (who hasn’t watched the BBC version more than once?) or the actors who played Kitty, just that I imagined her differently. Also, I always felt a bit sorry for Kitty, who didn’t “cough for her own amusement” and who was so readily labelled silly and ignorant. Yes, she was petulant, but teenage girls aren’t known for their empathy and good sense, and I felt the need to ameliorate her. Just because you are silly at 17 doesn’t mean you will always be silly, surely? So that’s it, in a nutshell. Of course, I was very happy to take myself back into Jane Austen’s world (and fully aware of the trespass, although I had no idea that there were so many Austen spin-offs and sequels before I started!) I have been meticulous in my research of the period, and its language, and I thoroughly enjoyed writing What Kitty Did Next. My hope is that you will enjoy reading it! The first few chapters can be found here.” Carrie Kablean ***** Chapter 1 Longbourn, January 1813 Matters matrimonial had long (more…)
This Spring 2018, Theatre6 is producing a touring production of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Artistic Director Kate McGregor discusses why they’ve chosen to adapt the work for six actor musicians, and why Persuasion remains so captivating for today’s audiences. Adapting a novel like Jane Austen’s Persuasion for the stage, from the earliest planning stages until the opening night, is a project that absorbs your days and nights for at least two years. In making the decision to dedicate such time to a piece, it has to be one which you’d like to explore visually, conceptually, emotionally and intellectually. Most importantly, it has to be a story that will excite, captivate and be relevant for your audiences. For Stephanie Dale (the novel’s adapter) and I, our biggest inspiration for working on the piece was the character of Anne. We envisioned how the themes in Persuasion could transcend time and space, and imagined how Jane’s ideas could breathe and thrive in our modern world. A novel must show how the world truly is, how characters genuinely think, how events actually occur, a novel should somehow reveal the true source of our actions – Jane in Becoming Jane. Set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic wars, this is a story about heartbreak. It’s about making decisions you regret, about trusting the right people for the wrong reasons. It asks questions about the inner workings of why we love and who loves the longest. Most importantly it’s an expression of Anne inner thoughts (more…)
Austen Superpowers: Finding Yours with Lizzy Bennet Kindly reproduced here with permission from its author, Laurie Viera Rigler, who is also the author of the popular Jane Austen Addict novels. We dream of them. We want to be them. We wish they were our best friend. Or our partner. And sometimes, we wish we could shake some sense into them. They are Jane Austen’s heroines and heroes. Each of them has a flawed humanity, but each also has a unique and special quality—an Austen superpower, if you will. Which is why they are so eminently relatable. Like them, we too are flawed. And like them, we have those same superpowers. They may be hidden away where we cannot see them, but they are there neverthless. All we have to do is believe. How do we do that? By following the lead of Austen’s leading ladies and men, who dig down deep within themselves to access their own superpowers. In this first of a series of posts, we turn to the heroine who is perhaps the most beloved of all: Elizabeth aka Lizzy Bennet of Pride and Prejudice. via GIPHY What are Lizzy Bennet’s superpowers? 1. The ability to have a cheerful attitude and sometimes even laugh in the face of humiliation and disappointment. via GIPHY 2. The ability to recognize and admit that she has been as proud and judgmental as the person she condemned for those same qualities. Let’s discuss Superpower 1 first. This is a tricky one, because (more…)