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Jane Austen News – Issue 123

Jane Austen News

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Audiobooks More Engaging Than Films Says Study

A UCL (University College London) study, backed by Audible, has found that the unconscious responses we have to scenes from books are strongest when we listen to the book in the auditory format as opposed to that of television or film.

UCL researchers measured the physical reactions of 102 participants aged between 18 and 67 to audio and video depictions of scenes from books. The scenes were chosen based on their “emotional intensity”, and for having minimal differences between the audio and video adaptations. Among the scenes chosen were Clarice’s interview with Dr Hannibal Lecter in Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs, Mr Darcy’s successful proposal to Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, and in The Hound of the Baskervilles, they heard and saw the first description of the beast.

As the participants watched or listened, the academics measured their heart rate and electrodermal activity. The participants were also asked questions about their experiences after listening to/viewing the scenes, and although the participants said they felt that the videos were “more engaging” than the audiobooks by an average of 15%, their physiological responses disagreed with this. The participant’s heart rates were higher by an average of two beats a minute, and body temperatures raised by approximately two degrees when listening to the audiobooks.

Little wonder then that spending on audiobooks has more than doubled since 2013, leaping from £12m to £31m in 2017, according to figures from the Publishers Association!

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 123

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Jane Austen News – Issue 96

The Jane Austen News hopes Giles is converted!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

 


To Lop and Crop or Leave Alone?

There has long been a debate around whether the books Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters are a bit of fun or an absolute travesty.

Jane Austen spin-offs are subjected to huge amounts of criticism, both good and bad. Usually these debates as to their merits, or lack of, take place online or in the media. However, now the universities are getting involved and there’s even been an academic essay written on the subject, analysing whether the “lopping and cropping” of Austen is a good or a bad thing.

Sydney Miller, a PhD candidate in English at the University of California, Los Angeles, has published her essay titled “How Not to Improve the Estate: Lopping & Cropping Jane Austen”. The abstract reads thus:

This essay reads Quirk Classics’ monstrous mash-ups, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, asdeliberately excessive and unnatural alterations that speak to a preoccupation with improvement that is both thematized within Austen’s own work and symptomatic of Austenmania’s broader project of renovating the literary landscape that is Jane Austen’s estate. While the mash-up enterprise is, no doubt, an exercise in making Austen’s novels worse, the essay frames the Quirk travesties in terms of Susan Sontag’s “Notes on Camp,” asking whether it is possible that these imprudent “improvements” might actually be good because they are bad. Insofar as the enhanced editions make manifest the Camp sensibility that has long been latent in Austen’s prose, they tease promising critical insight; however, the increasingly derivative mash-ups ultimately fail in their campiness precisely where Austen succeeds: for hers remains a secret of style.

What do you think? Are spin-offs like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters a good or a bad thing? A good way to get more readers introduced to Austen who might not otherwise try reading her (i.e. read the spin-off and then read the original)? Or are they a destruction of good literature?

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 96

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