If you’re reading this then in all likelihood the role that you most associate with Colin Firth is the brooding Mr Darcy from the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Well, good news, Firth-Darcy fans: Colin’s next big role is another classic brooding character.
Film companies StudioCanal and Heyday Films are currently working on a new film adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beautiful novel, The Secret Garden. Colin Firth will play the mysterious and complex character of the bereaved Archibald Craven. Julie Walters is also set to star as strict head housekeeper Mrs Medlock. Filming begins this month but there’s no firm news on a release date as of yet.
However, just an aside, it’s not The Secret Garden you might recognise from the book or the 1993 feature film which featured Maggie Smith as Mrs Medlock. The book is set in the Edwardian era in which it was first published, but the new film will be start in 1947 as the partition of India began and Britain was in the post-war aftermath. As well as welcoming Colin Firth back to our screens, it will be interesting to see what the change of setting brings to the story!
This week we came across a fascinating article from the website Electric Literature. Its author, Matthew Birkhold, decided to see how often judges referenced famous authors or their works of literature while in court, and when they did so, to what end. Among those commonly cited were Harper Lee, Charles Dickens and Shakespeare. Jane Austen too was often referred to, but she was rare in that she was cited from not just one work (e.g. Mary Shelley and Frankenstein), but for multiple works of hers.
She has appeared in municipal, state, and federal court opinions. And she is equally cited by male and female judges. Like so many other aspects of contemporary American culture, from the Romantic comedy to cosplay, Jane Austen has influenced the court. But what does she mean to the judges who read her?
After reading every available opinion, I’ve come to a rather banal but beautiful conclusion: Jane Austen is cited as an authority on the complexity of life, particularly with regard to the intricacies of relationships.
Half of the published legal opinions that cite Jane Austen don’t engage with her work beyond the first line of Pride and Prejudice: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife.” This approach relies on the Austen quotation to underscore the legal writer’s intellect and the certainty of his or her claim.
Sometimes the glib citation to the opening line of Pride and Prejudice is simply to add literary flair to judicial prose, as in a 2008 opinion from the United States Tax Court: “it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a recently widowed woman in possession of a good fortune must be in want of an estate planner.” Is it?
These are just a couple of highlights from the piece. Should the subject of Austen in court interest you as much as it does us, then you can read the full article here.
Hillsdale College is running a free online course exploring Jane’s Northanger Abbey.
The lectures will explore the way in which Austen critiques the sentimentality of the romantic fiction genre (which was very popular in the late 1700s) through her novel. Questions considered will be:
– How does the reading of novels color our expectations of life?
– How does the careful or careless use of language shape our experience of the world in which we live?
– How might we best learn to read and speak and write in ways that illuminate the truth rather than obscure it?
The course looks at these questions, and others, and in doing so seeks to reveal the “essential truths about human nature” and the importance of “virtues such as courage, prudence, generosity, and justice”.
The free, five-part, lecture series can be found here.
If you are a fan of both piano recitals and Jane Austen, we thought you might like to know about pianist Judith Gore’s upcoming lunchtime recitals in Bath titled Jane Austen and the Piano.
The recitals will feature music from Jane Austen’s own personal collection. These include the Overture from Piccinni’s La Buona Figliuola (The Dutiful Daughter), Haydn’s Sonata in C Major and Sterkel’s Sonata in C Major. There are two dates for the recital; the 7th of June at 1:00pm at the Central United Reformed Church, and the 8th of June at 1:00pm at the Old Theatre Royal on Orchard Street.
Judith is an excellent pianist – she is a member of the Royal Philharmonic Society and was awarded a Piano Recital Diploma from Trinity College London, followed by further piano studies at the Guildhall School of Music. If you’re able to come to Bath on either of these dates we can really recommend going. Tickets can be found here.
Our book recommendation this week is a little different as it’s for a book that hasn’t been released yet.
Penguin / Random House is launching a cookbook-literary hybrid series called “Puffin Plated: A Book-to-Table Reading Experience”. Not many titles have been announced, but they have named the first two books which will be published as part of the Puffin Plated range. These are a Jane Austen book – Pride and Prejudice: The Classic Novel with Recipes for Modern Teatime Treats by Martha Stewart, and a Charles Dickens’ novel – A Christmas Carol: The Classic Novel with Recipes for Your Holiday Menu by Giada de Laurentiis, Ina Garten, Martha Stewart, and Trisha Yearwood.
Both titles are due for U.S. release in mid October. They will be the unabridged texts of the novels, interspersed with recipes from well-known chefs, as well as food photography and special food artwork. Pride and Prejudice will include maple glazed scones, berry tartlets and French macaroons.
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