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Jane Austen News – Issue 110

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What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 

Emma Changes The Face of Fiction

200 years after it was first published, John Mullan, professor of English at University College London and a specialist in eighteenth-century literature, is arguing that Jane Austen’s Emma belongs alongside the works of Flaubert, Joyce and Woolf as one of the great experimental novels.

Mullan argues that Emma was not revolutionary because of its subject matter, but was revolutionary in its form and technique. “Its heroine is a self-deluded young woman with the leisure and power to meddle in the lives of her neighbours. The narrative was radically experimental because it was designed to share her delusions.”

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Jane Austen News – Issue 109

jane austen news

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 

Do Some Books Have “Best Before” Dates?

In our travels around the web this week, we at the Jane Austen News found an article by Jennifer Finney Boylan for the New York Times which talked about the best age at which to read books. Are there some books which are best read when you’re older? Is a book like War and Peace best not opened until you’re 25+?

It’s a knotty question. Some people have reading ages far beyond their years, and some readers are happy to read books which explore deep philosophical questions before they’ve even sat their GCSEs. Then again, some visitors to the Jane Austen Centre explain that, having been taught the likes of Dickens at a young age at school, they’ve been put off ‘classics’ almost for life.

Reading age aside though, the question can be approached from a different angle: do some books come with an ideal reading age? By this we mean, an age at which the book will best resonate with its reader, and an age at which it has the best chance of bringing a fresh perspective to the reader’s life.

Some examples which were suggested were:

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle — before the age of 18. In order to learn that some mysteries, including the ones inside your own heart, really can be solved by logic and reason.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 107

The Jane Austen News having a ball!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 

A Bookshop Of Women For All

As a pioneering female author we think that Jane would love this idea.

Penguin has teamed up with Waterstones to mark International Women’s Day by opening a pop-up store in East London. The bookshop will run from the 5th-9th of March and will sell only books written by women to “celebrate the persistence of women who’ve fought for change: those who fight, rebel and shout #LikeAWoman”.

The other unique aspect of the pop-up bookshop is the way in which it will be laid out. Rather than the typical “biography”, “fiction”, “sci-fi” categories, the books will be grouped by “the impact the author has had on culture, history or society”. The categories will range from “essential feminist reads”, to “inspiring young readers”, “women to watch”, and “changemakers”.

A series of literary events will also take place at the boo

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Jane Austen News – Issue 106

The Jane Austen News is the Watsons and curlingWhat’s the Jane Austen News from Bath this week?  The Latest Olympic Sport – Jane Austen Curling Well here’s one we at the Jane Austen News never thought we’d see! A theatre company who are currently performing a stage adaptation of Sense and Sensibility at the Arvada Center in Colarado have gone viral with their latest video. Without breaking character, the cast pushes each other in rolling chairs trying to be the one ‘closest to the eligible bachelor’… The video has been shared over 3,500 times!   Controversy Over Church Commemoration A church in Adlestrop in Gloucestershire, England (Adlestrop being a village which is thought to have inspired features of some of Jane Austen’s works), is currently being met with controversy. Plans are afoot to introduce a new plaque into the church, dedicated to a woman who is not a member of the Leigh family, and who is a “relative newcomer” in the area. Since the 16th century, the Leigh family, Austen’s wealthy relatives on her mother’s side, had owned Adlestrop Park, the great house which is thought to have inspired Sotherton Court, an estate owned by the character James Rushworth in her novel Mansfield Park. Now it is owned by the Collins family – the relative newcomers. It has to be said that “relative” is the appropriate term, as the Collins family, whose coat of arms it is that is being proposed as the new addition, have lived in the area since at least 1974. Dominic Collins and his (more…)
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Jane Austen News – Issue 99

The Jane Austen News is a very rare fan

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A Fan of Bath’s First Assembly Rooms comes to Bath

Although the Assembly Rooms built in 1771, and still to be found in all their glory at Bennett Street, are the ones most people think of when they think of Bath’s Assembly Rooms, they weren’t actually Bath’s first Assembly Rooms. Bath’s first assembly rooms were known as Harrison’s Rooms and were built for an entrepreneur in 1708 at the urging of Beau Nash – one of the first Masters of Ceremonies at Bath. Harrison’s Rooms became less popular as the ‘Upper Assembly Rooms’ (as they were then known) at Bennett Street grew in popularity, but Harrison’s Rooms were nevertheless still quite the landmark when Jane Austen came to Bath.

We mention all this because a hand-painted fan showing a long-lost view of Harrison’s Rooms as Jane would have known them has been acquired by Bath’s Holburne Museum, where it will go on display for the first time.

The rare fan, which had been in a private collection, shows elegantly dressed people strolling in Harrison’s Walk, a tree-lined riverside walk kept exclusive by paid subscription. The building in the background is Harrison’s Rooms.

The fan was painted around 1750 by Thomas Loggon, a renowned fan painter with dwarfism who ran a teahouse and china shop under the sign of The Little Fanmaker. As well as the fashionable group chatting with Nash, Loggon included himself in the scene (the slight figure towards the right).

Harrison’s Rooms burned down in 1820, and the view shown on the fan is now completely different to the view as Jane knew it (the area where Harrison’s Rooms once stood is beside the Parade Gardens). So if you’re coming to Bath it might be a nice thing to go and see after visiting the Jane Austen Centre.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 98

The Jane Austen News is Austen Airlines!

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David Baddiel Defends Austen

“If you put Jane Austen‘s name in any programme name, it will be commissioned,” said Giles Coren on Radio 4’s Today programme when he went on the show to promote his new documentary I Hate Jane Austen (which aired on Sky Arts last week).

At the Jane Austen News we were unimpressed by his attacks on Jane, but happily David Baddiel – comedian, novelist, TV presenter and Austen fan – was there to defend her name. He did it so well that we thought we’d share his ripostes with you.

He did begin by reminding the listeners of the Today programme about Coren’s own, less than successful, writing career (he wrote a book called Winkler, which sold less than 800 copies when released in 2005 and picked up a gong at the Bad Sex Awards), but then he went on to champion the work of Jane.

She single-handedly created the modern English novel. Before her, novels were mad gothic fantasies. With Austen you get ironic narration, you get controlled point of view, you get transparency of focus. It’s the technique, it’s the style. Jane Austen in Emma has the first example in modern literature of a change of point of view.

All excellent points. Hurrah for Mr Baddiel!

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Jane Austen News – Issue 97

A Mr Bennet Interview is the Jane Austen News from Bath this week!

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Meet Mr Bennet

Our Mr Bennet, who is almost synonymous with the Jane Austen Centre as he stands at the Centre entrance in all A Mr Bennet interview is the Jane Austen News this week!weathers to greet our visitors with warmth and charm, has been featured in the Bath Chronicle this week.

His article is the first of the Chronicle’s new series ‘Meet the’…, which will be taking a closer look at the personalities who make Bath such an incredible place.

“He’s a great addition to the Jane Austen Centre, everyone knows him and greets him and he knows every street, square and alleyway in Bath.

His local knowledge is unparalleled, he sees everything from his perch on the steps outside the Jane Austen Centre, he even reports misdeeds and fights to the police or council, he misses nothing.”

Some things you might already know about Mr Bennet:

He makes his own period clothes having worked for a gentleman’s outfitter and costume hire company.

“I bought myself a little sewing machine and I do all the research as to what men would have worn during Jane Austen’s time.”

…others might be more surprising…

When Martin’s not working he’s a rock ‘n roll fan and dresses as a Teddy Boy or Elvis and goes to gigs.

He also loves motorbikes and dresses head to toe in leather when out on his beloved Honda 750.

You can read the full interview with our Mr Bennet here.

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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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