What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
Pride and Prejudice is the Bishops’ Pick
A television channel owned by Italy’s conference of bishops and endorsed by the Pope is to broadcast BBC shows for the first time. Among the nine period dramas it has chosen to show are the BBC’s 1995 Pride and Prejudice adaptation, which considering the fact that it has that wet shirt scene in it, which has left women weak at the knees for years, it might not be quite the safe and genteel choice they think it is.
Usually TV2000, the name of the Roman Catholic station which is also known as “the Italian Church’s TV”, shows in a typical day’s schedule broadcasts of Holy Mass and the Holy Rosary from Lourdes, with occasional showings of Doris Day films.
Other programmes the channel has signed up for are adaptations of Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, The Paradise, and Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals.
They’ve also asked for the 2008 version of Sense and Sensibility. However this adaptation was criticised after its original airing by the Jane Austen Society for “sexing up the story” by opening with a scene in which John Willoughby seduces a 15-year-old girl. Hopefully this won’t take away the bishops’ seal of approval from Jane Austen adaptations, which was also given to (through their purchase of) a 2009 version of Emma, starring Romola Garai, and a BBC feature film, Miss Austen Regrets, which charts the author’s later years.
Winning Illustrator Chosen
Darya Shnykina has been selected as the winner of The Folio Society’s 2017 competition to see who will illustrate The Folio Society edition of Mansfield Park. Darya, who is a student of the Moscow State University of Printing Arts, was one of 23 illustrators who were selected for the longlist of finalists. This year the entrants were asked to submit three illustrations and a binding design for Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. The new edition, featuring illustrations by the winner, will be published by The Folio Society in October 2017.
Darya was presented with the prestigious commission, worth £5,000, by eminent historian Lucy Worsley during a ceremony at House of Illustration on Thursday 23 February. The rest of the shortlist, who each receive a £500 prize, are; Natasa Ilincic (Italy), Katie Ponder (UK), Meizhen Xu (Germany), Alexandru Savescu (Romania) and Pedro Silmon (UK). The winner of the first ever Visitors’ Choice Award, which saw over 1,500 people voting, was Katie Ponder.
Darya did the perfect cover: fitting in beautifully with the rest of the series, charming to look at, clever with the layering, and bold. But we were equally charmed by her illustrations for inside which managed to suggest character and some of the powerful feelings in the novel, like anger and disappointment.
Persuasion in North Carolina
The Jane Austen Summer Program has announced the theme for its 2017 symposium: “200 Years of Persuasion.” The fifth annual event will take place June 15-18 in Carrboro and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Included in the programme, which is designed to appeal to established scholars, high school teachers, graduate students, undergraduate students, and anyone with a passion for all things Austen, will be; engaging lectures, discussion groups, naval history, a Regency ball, a film panel, letter writing, and plenty of theatricals.
Austen fans in the UK may well have heard of, or have been lucky enough to have seen, the amazing improv theatre company Austentatious, but now Austen fans near Boston, Massachusetts may be in for a similar treat.
Audiences are invited to seek true love with twisted new plots and period costumes as Jane Austen gets the improv comedy treatment in ImprovBoston’s newest weekly show Wheel of Austen, which will be spinning every Friday night in March at 10PM.
Wheel of Austen Director John Herman promises that a brand new Jane Austen novel will come to life each night. “Taking classic Austen tropes and putting a new spin on them is a lot of fun. Will there be a marriage proposal? Probably. Smelling salts? Sure! But there might also be a UFO landing. In this show, anything can happen.”
During the show, audience members spin a wheel to inspire the cast to play with Austen’s literary conventions in unexpected ways, although the show’s creators, who are high school English teachers, are also keen to assure audiences that the beloved author is treated with respect.
Although there is no clear evidence that Austen visited Brighton, she included it in several of her works alongside other resorts on England’s south coast. However, thanks to a hand-written letter of 8 January 1799, there’s been a long-term misunderstanding when it comes to her views of Brighton.
Dr Alexandra Loske, curator of the upcoming Brighton Museum exhibition Jane Austen by the Sea, said: “For many years, Austen has been quoted as having written: ‘I assure you that I dread the idea of going to Brighton as much as you can do..’, but her sentence actually referred to Bookham, a village in Surrey, rather than Brighton. The misquote appeared in the early ‘Brabourne’ edition of Austen’s letters from 1884 after the editor deciphered the placename wrongly, and his mistake was repeatedly copied and cited; however we now know that Austen may not have felt as negatively about the town as has been thought.”
Bath, like Brighton, is another city which Austen has been quoted as having both liked and disliked, so at the Jane Austen News in Bath, we can well sympathise with Brighton’s plight!
An Unusual Invite
Gucci has sent out invitations to its Fall/Winter 2017 fashion show in the form of a limited edition 12″ record featuring Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine, hip-hop rapper A$AP Rocky, and also William Blake and Jane Austen!
According to posts on Twitter and Instagram, the A-side features Welch reading from William Blake’s collection of poetry Songs of Innocence and Experience, while the B-side hears A$AP Rocky recite ‘A love letter from Frederick Wentworth to Anne Elliot’ from Jane’s Persuasion.
Pressed to a single LP and housed in a mirrored gatefold sleeve adorned with the existential musing “What are we going to do with all this future?”, at the Jane Austen News we can’t quite see what a rapper reading Austen has to do with Gucci or catwalk fashion, but we’re looking forward to finding out once the show’s taken place if there’s a link or not.
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