What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
Stanford Says Reading Austen = Awesome Brain Exercise
Now this is the kind of exercise the Jane Austen News could really become addicted to. Researchers at Stanford University say that reading Jane Austen could be the perfect brain exercise.
Researchers at Stanford tested literary candidates at the university by hooking them up to an MRI machine and letting them get stuck into a Jane Austen novel. The preliminary results came back and the researchers found that there was a dramatic increase of blood flow to regions of the brain associated with paying close attention to a task.
Researcher Natalie Philips explained why this is so good; “paying attention to literary texts requires the coordination of multiple complex cognitive functions.” She suggested that this style of reading creates distinct patterns in the brain that are “far more complex than just work and play.”
And why is Jane Austen such a good author to read? Because there’s so much to analyse in its value, historical significance and hidden meanings. It’s mental multi-tasking!
It’s official then, Stanford has said so, for the sake of our health we need to read Jane Austen!
An Evening With Jane at Gloucester Cathedral
If you live or can get to Gloucester this may well be of interest. On Saturday 22 October at 7.30pm Gloucester Cathedral’s Chapter House will host a very special evening of readings from the works of Jane Austen, bringing alive some of her most-loved and most-reviled characters.
Adrian Lukis, who played Mr Wickham in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and Caroline Languish (Lovejoy) perform duologues from Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion. They will be accompanied by vocalists and musicians whose interpretations of 18th-century and Regency-era music give audiences a glimpse into the evocative sounds of Jane’s own household.
Limited VIP tickets are available for £50 and include a drinks reception and the opportunity to meet the artists, while standard tickets are £25. Tickets can be booked by phone: 0845 652 1823 (Mon-Fri 10.00am – 4.00pm), or on-line at www.gloucestercathedral.org.uk.
Could Jane Have Stayed Anonymous Today?
Recently Italian author “Elena Ferrante” found her publishing anonymity under threat when an Italian investigative journalist Claudio Gatti published a new theory. He had looked at payment records from Ferrante’s publisher to identify where inexplicably large payments from the publisher were going, at more or less at the time Ferrante ought to be getting her big international royalties. The payments increased more or less in the right proportions as her book sales also increased. Using this, Gatti identified who Ferrante is most likely to be.
For some authors, publishing anonymously is the only way they can feel properly free to write. Ferrante told the magazine Vanity Fair last August; “I have gained a space of my own, a space that is free, where I feel active and present. To relinquish it would be very painful.”
In our eyes, this craving for anonymity really resonates with how Jane felt about her work, and it has led us to question whether in today’s modern times of investigative journalism and technology paper trails, Jane could have stayed as successfully anonymous as she did in the time she was writing? And if she couldn’t, what effect may it have had on her writing if she hadn’t? Certainly the story has given us some food for thought in terms of how damaging the unmasking of an author can be and if more should be done to protect identities.
Austentatious On Top Form On Tour
Austentatious consistently play sell-out shows (five sell-out Edinburgh Fringe runs and three sell-out national tours), and they are on the move again. From the beginning of October through to November they are on tour around the UK and, judging from the reviews, they are once again on top form.
“Incredible show at Chester Town Hall tonight!! You were all fantastic – certainly one of the best theatre performances I’ve ever seen.”
The Jane Austen News is delighted that they’ll be coming to a theatre near us three times! As part of their tour they plan to visit Wells, Bristol and Frome. They’re a firm favourite with us and we wish them the best of luck. Full tour dates can be found here.
Felicity Montagu on Mrs Bennet
Felicity Montagu is currently playing Mrs Bennet in the touring stage production of Pride and Prejudice, which is making its way around UK theatres throughout this winter and into next year, and we were intrigued to read what she liked most about playing the part.
She’s a testy role and a very demanding one because she’s a very mercurial character. She changes very quickly on a sixpence. I like her self-righteousness and her ability to tantrum and to be almost childlike. The element of being a child in a rehearsal room is terribly exciting and I enjoy that; I enjoy the child in her.
While you might not want to be a Mrs Bennet in real life, we have to agree with Felicity, she’d be a fun role to play!
There’s Always Darcy
There’s no question that Hurricane Matthew, which recently hit the east coast of the US, was a terrifying and devastating storm to be caught in the middle of. So to try and offer some light relief to those caught in its path, Erica Bahrenburg writing for the online zine FilmSchoolRejects compiled her list of The Essential Movie Rain Scenes to Get You Through Hurricane Matthew, and, of course, Mr Darcy proposing to Lizzy in the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice was included.
The weather outside might be dreadful, but this ode to on screen precipitation might help make the storm bearable.
It’s certainly true that Mr Darcy makes us feel better when we’re feeling down!
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