What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
Pride and Prejudice vs. Jane Eyre
As two of the most popular novels of all time, Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre have an incredible number of spin-off books written about them. Two of the books tipped to be summer bestsellers this year are Eligible – a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Steele – a modern retelling of Jane Eyre. But do they both work in the modern era?
The Jane Austen News came across an interesting argument from Constance Grady writing for online magazine Vox, that argues that perhaps one of them does not.
Pride and Prejudice gave us an enduring romantic comedy formula, and it’s easy to update it with only minimal tweaking here and there. You can’t do the same thing with Jane Eyre. Brontë wasn’t writing anything like a romantic comedy or a comedy of manners — she was writing a gothic romance that was also an aspirational marriage plot.
Jane Eyre never condemns the love story between Jane and Rochester, madwoman in the attic be damned. It does not function if the book does not believe wholeheartedly in the rightness of Jane and Rochester’s marriage. So when you try to turn Jane Eyre into a contemporary romance, you have to fight against either the gothic elements or the marriage plot. The results are uncomfortable.
What do you think? Can Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre be translated into modern day settings? Or are the stories purely of their time?
Lady Susan Gets the Ending She Deserves?
Now to a retelling of a different kind. Lady Susan, the epistolary novella Jane Austen wrote in her youth, will soon be coming to the cinemas in the form of Whit Stillman’s new film Love and Friendship, and John Mullan, author of the book What Matters in Jane Austen?, has been looking at whether the story lives up to Austen’s other work.
Many novels of the late 18th century were, like Lady Susan, written entirely in letters. In her youth, Austen, along with many of her contemporaries, was a fan of Samuel Richardson, who turned epistolary novels into a high art. In his fiction, resourceful young women record their efforts to resist the advances of scheming libertines. The young Austen signals her audacity by turning the figure of the predatory male seducer into a highly unconventional (and middle-aged) seductress.
However Jane went on to tire of this form says Mullan, and Lady Susan was brought to a premature end. The film he says, has to pursue a satisfying conclusion which the original novella did not have. It will be interesting to see what this might entail… For more information on Love and Friendship take a look at our blog post which can be found by clicking here.
Writing Without Ego = Jane?
Writing for the Financial Times, Jan Dalley spoke this week about the artist and their ego. She laid out the idea that in order to create and put our work out into the public domain we have to have some ego – at least enough to believe that what we are creating is good, and in most cases, enough ego to support the need to have others recognise our artistic achievement.
However, given that Jane Austen and other female 18th century authors did not sign their work (Jane famously remained largely anonymous until after her death), it follows that perhaps Jane and others like her were less egotistical than other artists of their and our time? They were writing simply for the love of writing. Having said that, they did fight to publish their work. So was it a case of ego – a need to share for their own sakes, or was it a wish to share with those around them stories that women could relate to that drove their want of publishing? It’s certainly an interesting question to consider.
10 Early Edition Volumes of Jane Austen For Sale
It’s not often that early, near-mint condition, matching editions of Jane Austen’s novels come up for sale in one go. Given this is can be hard to judge what such a collection is worth; though to quite a few fans the answer may be priceless. But the Jane Austen News recently came across such a collection from Strand Books in New York who have given them a price. They are asking for $2,500 for the set of 10 volumes.
The books are advertised as hardback, marbled-cover/leather bound editions with top edge gilt, which were published in 1900 with coloured Brock illustrations. They have “some faint foxing and previous owner’s stamp to endpapers.” We thought we’d mention them in case there are any Jane Austen fans out there who are looking for early editions of her work (and who have a spare $2,500..).
An Evening of Emma in Fort George
At the Jane Austen News we love hearing about celebrations of Jane that happen all around the world. Because as much as we might wish all of Jane’s fans could come to Bath for our Jane Austen Festival in September, we know that there are many who can’t. So it’s wonderful to know that there are events dedicated to Jane Austen taking place in countries around the world. On that note, for any fans of Jane Austen who live near Ontario, Canada, this coming event on May 26th might be a good one to go to.
In celebration of its 200th anniversary, the Friends of Fort George are planning a special lecture evening focusing on Jane Austen’s novel Emma. Brock University professor of English language and literature, Dr. Barbara Seeber, will be discussing the timeless appeal of Emma, as the novel celebrates its bicentenary. As well as an English professor, she is also the author of several Jane Austen publications. Following the lecture at Navy Hall, there will be an evening social including tea and light refreshments. Details about tickets can be found at the Friends of Fort George website.
Jane at Brighton Fringe
Fringe theatre provides a wealth of Jane Austen goodness. The wonderful Austentatious, who often visit Bath for the Jane Austen Festival, were founded off the back of fringe theatre. This week the Jane Austen News had a look at Austen Empowered – a satire of Austen’s well-loved, complicated courtship leading to marriage storyline, which was performed at Brighton Fringe.
In Austen Empowered, Juliet is informed by her aunt (who in this production is rather pantomime-dame like (in more ways than one)) that despite Juliet’s opinions on the subject, it is time that she should get married. The characters wore traditional costumes with trainers and jeans, and they spoke in a manner reminiscent of Austen, but included modern slang too.
It was certainly an interesting blend of modern meets Regency. If you saw them at the Fringe leave us a comment and let us know what you thought of the show.
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