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Jane Austen News – Issue 81

The Jane Austen News learns about the C18th human gnomes

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

Jane Austen In Couples Therapy For Campaign

Audible has launched a new campaign in Australia encouraging people to “grow their minds”, and Miss Austen plays a starring role.

Research commissioned by Audible and conducted by researchers at Sydney University’s Brain and Mind Centre has found that 62 per cent of Aussies want to grow their mind, but 35 per cent are unsure of how to do so. Inspired by this, Audible.com.au has launched its new multi-channel campaign; “Grow Your Mind”, and one of the videos made to support the campaign has a flustered Jane Austen in a bonnet in couples therapy with a negligent reader.

We thought it was good for a giggle.

To help Australians kick start their journey, Audible.com.au has also created the list “The 24 Best Audiobooks to Grow the Mind”, which can be found here (though shockingly Jane’s novels don’t feature!)


Unconventional Pride And Prejudice Is A Hit

Currently playing at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in New York state is what’s being called an “unconventional” stage production of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It includes theatrical acting (naturally), disco music (maybe not so naturally) and men playing women (very Shakespearean) – but it does all this while apparently “staying true to Austen’s original themes”.

This is the trailer/taster from the performance and, while we can’t be sure how “true” it is to Austen’s original themes, it did remind us at the Jane Austen News a little of the UK Austen improv group Austentatious. Either way, a bit of fun if you’re in the area.

 


Jane Austen As A Video Game Surprise

Agents of Mayhem, a sci-fi, open-world, shooter-based video game, might not sound like it has anything at all to do with Jane Austen. At first this is true. It’s literally an imaginary world away from Jane’s world, except that in a bizarre twist, it turns out that Jane Austen is the narrator behind the whole thing!

How?

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 81

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Jane Austen News – Issue 48

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

One Austen £5 Note Has Been Found
The Jane Austen News is on the Hunt for Jane fiversOne of the four £5 notes which carry a mini 5mm engraving of Jane Austen has been found.

The note was first paid to staff at the Square Cafe in Blackwood, South Wales, by the engraver Graham Short. Unfortunately no one recognised who he was at the time and staff unwittingly gave the note away in change. When it was announced in the national news that the £5 had been spent at the cafe customers flocked to the cafe and staff checked all to the notes in the till but it was already gone.

The note turned up later in the purse of an elderly art fan who wishes to remain anonymous. She said she is going to give the note to her granddaughter as an investment rather than reaping the reward. The note is said to be worth £50,000. She is one generous grandmother!


Jane Austen Letter Massively Exceeds Estimate  

lot-124-austen-letter-to-cassandraThe recent auction at Sotheby’s, in which a letter written by Jane Austen and early copies of her novels went up for sale, has had some astounding final sale prices. The letter written by Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra at the age of 25 sold for £150,000 – almost four times the lower estimate that was predicted for its sale (£40,000 – 60,000)!

The letter was a window into the daily life of Jane Austen, and is one of a series of letters written by Jane to Cassandra when Cassandra was away visiting their brother Edward at Godmersham Park House in Kent from October 1800 through to February 1801.

The letter includes an important reference to Harris Bigg-Wither.

Harris seems still in a poor way, from his bad habit of body; his hand bled again a little the other day, & Dr Littlehales has been with him lately.

Jane accepted and then rejected Harris’ offer of marriage two years after this letter was written.

Jane’s bibliocatch (cup and ball) game, estimated at between £20,000-£30,000, went unsold.


Jane Austen Class so Popular it’s on Pause  

   
hm_jf17_lynch-portrait_0Deidre Lynch, Bernbaum professor of literature since 2014, has found that her class Jane Austen’s Fiction and Fans, is now so popular that she’s had to temporarily stop offering it.

Lynch has been offering the class since 2014, and in the two years since it first began it’s become almost to big to handle anymore. The other issue, apart from its sheer size she says, is that “the materials we use in Houghton Library are getting worn away by the wear and tear.” She asks her students to examine primary evidence—the scrapbooks, commonplace books, and custom-illustrated texts of everyday nineteenth-century readers—to analyze the reading lives of people in Austen’s time: their habits, tastes, quirks, interactions. She also asks her students to create their own “fan art”. One student re-composed the music to a film adaptation; other people have written songs; one person, (with totally charming results says Lynch) made Harriet Smith’s box of favourite treasures.

At the Jane Austen News we’re sad that the class has had to be put on hold, pleased that it was so popular, and jealous that we can’t go and take part ourselves! It sounds like an amazing class!


The Mysteries of Udolpho on the Radio  
If you’ve ever wanted to read The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, one of the books which Jane Austen was satirising The Jane Austen News is looking forward to the Mysteries of Uldolphowhen she wrote Northanger Abbey, but haven’t found the time to open the cover on the 704 page novel (give or take depending on print size), then this might be of interest.
On New Year’s Eve at 2:30pm on Radio 4, the BBC will be broadcasting Hattie Naylor’s one hour adaptation of Ann Radcliffe’s gothic masterpiece. It will also be available online on the BBC’s radio iplayer shortly afterwards. They’re broadcasting it to accompany the episodes of Northanger Abbey which Hattie Naylor has also adapted, and which are being broadcast on weekdays at 10:45am on Radio 4 from December 19th to December 30th (also available online afterwards).
If you want to understand some of the in-jokes that Austen was referencing when she wrote Northanger Abbey, then this adaptation of Udolpho is a good opportunity.
Emily St Aubert is forced to leave France and go and live with her Aunt and her new husband, Count Montoni, in his isolated castle in Italy. Before long Emily discovers that the castle is a place of nightmares and Montoni a desperate man who will stop at nothing to terrorise both his wife and his niece. 
In this dramatisation Hattie Naylor has taken the core of the four volumes of the novel to explore those edicts most at the heart of the Gothic Novel.

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley    
image-6A number of Jane Austen fans in the US have been enjoying a festive Jane Austen based production called Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.

In this charmingly imagined sequel to Pride and Prejudice, the ever-dependable Mary Bennet is growing tired of her role as dutiful middle sister in the face of her siblings’ romantic escapades. When the family gathers for Christmas at Pemberley, an unexpected guest sparks Mary’s hopes for independence, an intellectual match, and possibly even love.

In brief: Lady Catherine De Bourgh has died, and her estate, Rosings, has passed into the hands of a distant cousin, Arthur de Bourgh. As Arthur was an old school chum of Mr. Darcy’s, he has taken it upon himself to invite him over for Christmas. When he arrives, it becomes obvious almost immediately that he and Elizabeth’s book-loving sister Mary are a perfect match. Period-appropriate high jinks ensue.

It was all quite funny and touching. The four of us that went all liked it, as did the audience. It was totally sold out for its run, and they even added shows.

Tamara Church, California

A charming idea. We’re somewhat sad at the Jane Austen News that we can’t make it to the show ourselves!


Lizzy and Darcy Do (Rap) Battle    

If you liked Hamilton (the latest Broadway smash-hit musical) you might like this new piece of theatre from a group of actors at New York Public Theater. Now dubbed BARS Medley, the project takes literary classics and puts a contemporary spin on them.

As part of this project, Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice is reworked as a hip-hop rap battle between the two and involves narrators coaching the pair through a boxing ring show down (no punches are thrown). Even if you’re not a fan of rap, you have to admire the work play between the two.

To watch the battle between the two in the video below, skip to 6:33.


Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to Jane Austen. Here we will feature a variety of items, including craft tutorials, reviews, news stories, articles and photos from around the world. If you’d like to include your story, please contact us with a press release or summary, along with a link. You can also submit unique articles for publication in our Jane Austen Online Magazine.

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To Punish or Defend? The Regency Duel

A Regency Duel

Although one might need to read Georgette Heyer, rather than Jane Austen, to get a peek at a Regency duel, however, the activity is by no means ignored in Austen’s novels.

In Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet voices her fears that her husband will fight Mr. Wickham, leaving her daughters to be turned out of their home by the Collins’. This may have been due to her over dramatic sense of self pity, but in fact, Sense and Sensibility’s Col Brandon and Mr. Willoughby do meet in an attempt to defend the (doubtable) honor of Eliza Williams.

“One meeting was unavoidable…I could meet [Willoughby] in no other way. Eliza had confessed to me, though most reluctantly, the name of her lover; and when he returned to town, which was within a fortnight after myself, we met by appointment, he to defend, I to punish his conduct. We returned unwounded, and the meeting, therefore, never got abroad.”

Colonel Brandon and Willoughby fight a duel in a 2008 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.
Colonel Brandon and Willoughby fight a duel in a 2008 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.

According to one definition, “A duel is an arranged engagement in combat between two individuals, with matched weapons in accordance with agreed-upon rules.”

During the 17th and 18th centuries (and earlier), duels were mostly fought with swords (the rapier, later the smallsword, and finally the French foil), but beginning in the late 18th century and during the 19th century, duels were more commonly fought using pistols. Special sets of duelling pistols were crafted for the wealthiest of noblemen for this purpose.

The duel was based on a code of honour. Duels were fought not so much to kill the opponent as to gain “satisfaction”, that is, to restore one’s honour by demonstrating a willingness to risk one’s life for it, and as such the tradition of duelling was originally reserved for the male members of nobility; however, in the modern era it extended to those of the upper classes generally. From the early 17th century duels became illegal in the countries where they were practised. Continue reading To Punish or Defend? The Regency Duel