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Jane Austen News – Issue 138

The Jane Austen News looks at Darcy

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Mr Darcy’s Reputation Condemned At Lit Fest

Writer and podcaster Dolly Alderton delivered a controversial judgement on Jane’s most famous romantic hero, Mr Darcy, at Cheltenham Literature Festival this Sunday.

Alderton put forward her opinion that Darcy is a conceited, rude, humourless snob, who has had a dangerous effect on dating culture. She also said that Darcy was probably the first written example of ‘negging’; a phrase which was coined by the American writer Neil Strauss, in his book The Game: Penetrating The Secret Society of Pick-Up Artists. Negging, in case you (like I) didn’t know, is the act of emotional manipulation whereby a person makes a deliberate backhanded compliment, or flirtatious remark, to undermine someone’s confidence and increase the need for approval.

Alderton quoted as one piece of evidence of negging from Pride and Prejudice, the point where Darcy says (in her earshot) that Elizabeth Bennet “is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.”

When you Google Mr Darcy there are so many female apologists for his behaviour. So many say he is just shy. Women are so, so keen to preserve the romantic mysticism of Mr Darcy.

The idea that a man is there to be cracked or is hard to get or something to be won I think is very, very damaging. It should not be that difficult. Elizabeth is the prize to be won.

Alderton was taking part in a debate about which romantic hero from literature, Darcy or Heathcliff, was the worst. Hopefully Darcy fans will be able to take some comfort therefore in the fact that the audience agreed that Heathcliff, “a man who hanged dogs, beat up old women and imprisoned young women”, was worst.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 110

the jane austen news

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 69

The Jane Austen News is our new hare!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

  You Could Live In Longbourn

 The Jane Austen News is that Longbourn is for sale! 
If you happen to have a spare £9 million lying around then Longbourn, home of the Bennet family, could be yours!

Luckington Court, which was the location used in the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice (you know the one – it had Colin Firth and that wet shirt scene in it) to portray the home of the Bennets, is up for sale for the first time in 70 years.

The estate sits beautifully on 156 acres in the small village of Luckington, in Wiltshire, England. The house itself has seven bedrooms, six bathrooms, as well as paddocks and some wonderfully maintained gardens. Though naturally its biggest selling point is probably going to be its filming credentials!  If only we had the money!

 


 Jane? Is That You?   

There’s been something of a backlash recently against the image of Jane Austen which is set to appear on the new £10 bank note, which will go into general circulation in the UK this September.

The image which will be used on the note was based upon the unfinished portrait of Jane as painted by her sister Cassandra, but never completed as the Austen family said it did not look like her. However complaints have been made that the portrait of Jane which appears on the note has been “given a Disney style touch up”. Paula Byrne, one of Jane’s biographers, said that “they presumably said to the artist, ‘make it look prettier’. It is like doctoring a selfie by a celebrity.”

Three years ago the Jane Austen Centre contacted the Bank of England to offer their own specially-commissioned image of Jane for use on the note. Bath MP Don Foster wrote to the Bank of England on behalf of the Centre and Victoria Cleland, the Bank’s Chief Cashier, wrote back:

We noted with interest the unveiling of the new Jane Austen waxwork: an exciting feature for the… Jane Austen Centre.

However, I am afraid it would be incredibly difficult at this stage to change the image that will be on the £10 banknote.

The Bank gave very careful thought to this selection, considering the available portraits of Jane Austen and consulting a number of experts.

 In a recent statement, Centre spokesman David Lassman added that:

Although we had to accept the Bank of England’s decision, we feel it was a missed opportunity, given the level of criticism their final choice is currently receiving from Austen experts.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 69

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Jane Austen News – Issue 61

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   

 Lucy Worsley on Jane Austen  

In the lead up to the publication of her new book about Jane Austen, Jane Austen at Home, published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton on 18th May 2017, Lucy Worsley has been writing various articles and giving interviews for websites and newspapers exploring aspects of Jane’s life.

Within the latest article, written for The Sunday Times by Sian Griffiths, Lucy Worsley has highlighted come of the suitors which Jane apparently spurned in order to keep writing.

“She turned down four or five proposals of marriage and financial security to have a go at living by her pen. And because it wasn’t socially appropriate for her to be a writer, she had to write in secret, and go on pretending to be a good daughter, aunt and housekeeper.”

“The list of potential suitors included Charles Powlett, who wanted to kiss Austen when he was 20; Tom Lefroy; the Reverend Samuel Blackall; Harris Bigg-Wither, who proposed only to be turned down by the writer within 24 hours; the Reverend Edward Bridges; Robert Holt Leigh, an MP who flirted with Austen; and William Seymour, a lawyer.”

However, Deirdre Le Faye, editor of Austen’s letters, said that while she accepted that there were several men in Austen’s life, she did not believe the author spurned them so that she could be a writer, or that she made feminist choices.

“Lucy Worsley enjoys mak­ing history fun,” said Le Faye, “but I do not agree with her argument. There were eligible young men in Jane Austen’s orbit but I do not know of evidence she turned them down so she could carry on writing, but we will never know.”

The full article can be found here.


 Joanna Trollope on Jane Austen and The Austen Project 

Best-selling author Joanna Trollope was one of six authors picked to take part in the Austen project; an initiative begun in 2013 by publisher Harper Collins, which saw top contemporary authors reworking Jane’s six completed novels for a modern audience.

This week Joanna was answering questions via The Guardian website and one of the questions she was asked was:

What is the case for the rewrites of Jane Austen’s books? You have redone Sense and Sensibility while others of the Austen canon have been reworked by others. How would you react if a publisher proposed that your books be rewritten by others?“.

Here’s what she had to say:

The Austen Project was dreamt up by a very clever editor at Harper Collins who is now at Faber. Her idea was to emphasise the timelessness of Jane Austen’s characterisation by taking stories that had been written before 1815 and transposing them to 2013. So the aim was not so much to showcase modern writers, as to display the eternal genius of Jane Austen.

I not only think my novels would be very honoured to be rewritten in 200 years time, I think they would benefit! There is, after all, nothing new to say about the human condition that Sophocles or Shakespeare haven’t brilliantly said already. All writers do is reinterpret or translate those eternal truths about humanity for their own times. I am not of the school of writers who believes that we are inventors, as you will gather! And that explains why, when it came to updating Sense and Sensibility, I not only stuck to Jane’s narrative and characterisation like paint, I also stuck to her treatment of her characters. In Sense and Sensibility there are only two characters she does not tease – one is Elinor Dashwood and the other is Colonel Brandon – and I have treated them in the same way Jane does herself.

I started the project thinking she was a brilliant novelist. I ended the project believing she was a complete genius and nothing that has happened since has caused me to revise that opinion.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 55

The Jane Austen News has a new book on its to read list

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   

Jane Austen at Home (with Lucy Worsley)    

Some of our guides, and we’re sure other Austen/history fans, have been enjoying watching Lucy Worlsey’s new series British History’s Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worlsey, and considering how good Lucy is at uncovering the unusual facts and anecdotes that bring history to life, at the Jane Austen News we were very excited to read that her new book Jane Austen at Home: A Biography, has its official UK release date on May the 18th (US release July 11th).

In this new biography of Jane Austen, Lucy takes a trip back to Jane’s world and the many places she lived. Lucy visits Austen’s childhood home, her schools, her holiday accommodations, the houses – both grand and small – of the relations upon whom she was dependent, and the home she shared with her mother and sister towards the end of her life. In places like Steventon Parsonage, Godmersham Park, Chawton House and a small rented house in Winchester, Lucy discovers a Jane Austen very different from the one who famously lived a ‘life without incident’. Lucy examines the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to Jane, and the varying ways in which homes are used in her novels as both places of pleasure and as prisons. Lucy shows readers a passionate Jane Austen who fought for her freedom – a woman who refused to settle for anything less than Mr. Darcy.

We’re looking forward to getting our hands on a copy!


Welsh Austen Fans: Win Tickets to Pride and Prejudice

Calling Welsh Jane Austen fans!

The Penarth Times newspaper has teamed up with the Wales Millennium Centre to offer one lucky person the chance to win a pair of tickets to see Pride and Prejudice.

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s production of Pride and Prejudice, which recently visited Bath (during which time some of the cast came to see us at the centre!), will be at Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre from Tuesday, February 21st to Saturday, February 25th. To celebrate the newspaper is offering any reader within its area of publication two tickets for the opening night on February 21st.

To enter you need to answer the question: What is the name of the family with the five unmarried daughters?

 Answers are to be sent with your name, address and telephone number to the Pride and Prejudice web competition, Penarth Times, c/o South Wales Argus, Cardiff Road, Maesglas, Newport, NP20 3QN, or emailed to penarthtimes@penarthtimes.co.uk putting Pride and Prejudice web competition in the subject box.

Closing date for entries is Monday, February 13.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 55

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Jane Austen News – Issue 49

Jane Austen News is Bath!What’s the Jane Austen News this week?       Jane Austen’s England – Limited Edition    American travel company Peregrine Adventures have an excellent Jane Austen literary tour planned for 2017. The limited edition tour is timed to commemorate the 200th year anniversary of Jane Austen’s death and will visit destinations in Southern England significant to Jane Austen’s life (including Bath and the Jane Austen Centre). It will also include towns and cities that inspired her work (such as Lyme Regis), and visit film locations where some of the films based on her novels have been shot. Highlights include a regency dance class with an expert in historical dance, and a talk about regency fashion with a period costume expert. The tour will be led by a Peregrine leader, but there will be various local expert guides at different locations within the tour, some of whom are members of the Jane Austen Society. Having looked at the full programme we’re rather impressed. So if you’re looking for a thorough tour of Jane Austen’s England, but don’t fancy trying to plan your own, this might be of interest as your summer holiday next year? The eight day tour begins on June the 12th, and we’re looking forward to welcoming the Peregrine tour group to the centre on the 16th. Trend Setter – Mr Darcy and his Christmas Jumper    Colin Firth was certainly responsible for the wet-shirt obsession which gripped much of the nation following his performance in the 1995 BBC production (more…)
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Jane Austen News – Issue 31

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   Lucy Worsley Films Jane Austen Documentary       On August the 3rd Lucy Worsley, who has presented programmes including The First Georgians: The German Kings Who Made Britain and If Walls Could Talk, was filming at Jane’s birthplace and childhood home, Steventon rectory, as part of a BBC2 documentary about Jane Austen’s life which will be aired next year as part of the marking of the bicentenary of Jane’s death. While the rectory itself is no longer standing as it was flooded (which resulted in the entire village having to move somewhere less damp), an excavation in November 2011 revealed its foundations and the drainage system that failed in 1819. As well as filming in Steventon, the crew have also been filming in Lyme Regis, Stoneleigh, Kent, Bath, Chawton, and other places which are connected to Jane. We at the Jane Austen News are very much looking forward to seeing the documentary when it airs! Should Minor Characters Remain Minor…? There’s a big market for new books based on Jane’s novels. There are the modern retellings of her novels (The Austen Project), follow-on novels about what happened next to the likes of Lizzy and Mr Darcy and Marianne and Colonel Brandon, and there’s also a big trend for writing books based on Jane’s more minor characters. Lydia Bennet is a popular character to write about, as are Mary and Kitty. However, this week Charlotte Jones writing for the Guardian has asked whether these characters should keep in their place (more…)
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