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Jane Austen News – Issue 136

The Jane Austen News learns about Colette

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


The Author Behind The Film

In the Jane Austen News last week we mentioned the upcoming film Colette, starring 2005 Lizzy Bennet actress Keira Knightley. Well since then we came across a brilliant TIME article which gave us a bit more background about the author, and we thought that you, as a fan of the pioneering author Jane Austen, might also enjoy reading a bit about another pioneering female author.

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was born in 1873 in Burgundy in France. At the age of 20 she fell in love with, and went on to marry, Henry Gauthier-Villars, then aged 34, who was the owner of a ghostwriting enterprise which published novels under the pen name “Willy”. Colette became a member of the ghostwriting team and, when there was a bad case of writer’s block and a lack of money, Henry asked Colette to write about her school days. The result, published in 1900, was the book Claudine at School, which became a huge hit and turned into the first of a best-selling four-book series.

As the books gained even more popularity, Colette and Willy argued about adding her name as an author. Eventually the books were brought out with “Willy and Colette Willy” on the covers as the publishers wouldn’t remove his name from the series until a long time after his death. Although, on the positive side, after the couple separated (following many love affairs on both sides which led to an open marriage) Colette’s talent was better recognised and she became the first female President of the renowned Paris literary society, the Academie Goncourt.

This may not sound like Austen and Colette had much in common, but their books, although very different in tone and primary subject, do have a shared theme; that of inherent human nature:

Her uncanny feminine understanding, hearty physical sympathy for the internal workings of human nerves and glands, make her a writer who cannot avoid being labeled passionate but who never runs any danger of being cheap.

Hopefully you found this brief background on Colette as interesting as we at the Jane Austen News did. The full article on Colette can be found here.

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Jane Austen Adaptations: Behind the Scenes

When the final credits roll on an Austen film, whether you’ve loved it or not, it’s often fun to find out more. What were relationships like on and off the set? Where did they film these great houses? Who designed the costumes? Was the final product true to the script? Were there any extra scenes that were cut? Fortunately for us, many of the movies do have additional information available. Pride and Prejudice (1995) boasts a “Making Of” feature on the newest DVD version and the book The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin answers just about any question interested fans might have. Sense and Sensibility won Emma Thompson an Oscar for best screenplay when it was released in 1995. During the filming of the movie, Thompson kept a detailed diary of life on and off the set. Both the script and the diary are available in individual and combined formats. Also produced in 1995, Persuasion’s script by Nick Dear was printed in book format and is occasionally available from used book sellers. That year’s other Austen offering, Clueless, is an updated version of Emma, set in California. The special edition DVD boasts cast interviews and “making of” information. Scripts were also published of both Douglas McGrath’s 1996 script for the Gwyneth Patrow version of Emma , and for Andrew Davies’s version for TV. That script, along with cast and behind the scenes information was published as The Making of Jane Austen’s Emma by Sue (more…)
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The Mirror of Graces: the Final Blush of Accomplishment

A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word [accomplished]; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.” Pride and Prejudice When so much has been said of the body and its accoutrements, I cannot but subjoin a few words on the intelligence which animates the frame, and of the organ which imparts its meaning. Connected speech is granted to mankind alone. Parrots may prate and monkeys chatter, but it is only to the reasonable being that power of combining ideas, expressing their import, and uttering, in audible sounds, all its various gradations, the language of sense and judgment, of love and resentment is awarded as a gift, that gives us a proud and undeniable superiority above all the rest of the creation. To employ this faculty well and gracefully, is one grand object of education. The mere organ itself, as to sound, is like a musical instrument, to be modulated with elegance, or struck with the disorderly nerve of coarsene vulgarity. I must add to what has been said before, the subject, that excessive rapidity of speaking is, in general, even with a clear enunciation, very disagreeable; but, when it is accompanied with a shrill voice, high in alt, the effect is then inexpressibly discordant and hideous. The first orator the heathen (more…)
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Film Review: Pride and Prejudice (2005) by Sheryl Craig

Is Pride and Prejudice primarily a Cinderella story? How you answer that question may well determine whether you enjoy or detest the 2005 Keira Knightley/Matthew Macfadyen film. When spending quality time with Jane Austen’s novel, gentle reader, do you imagine paint peeling from the Bennet family home or picture Longbourn’s back garden as a filthy barnyard? Does Mr. Bennet potter about the house unwashed, unshorn and unshaven? Does his beloved library resemble the leftovers of a jumble sale? One might assume that the Bennets could do better with an estate that is lawfully their own and two thousand a year. However, this appears to be Director Joe Wright’s interpretation of the novel as “social realist drama.” Dear me! And what would Jane Austen make of that? The poverty, grime and crumbling gentility adds what Wright refers to as “a bit more street,” if this is considered desirable. But what is “street” about Mr. Darcy trudging through a foggy field, white shirt front agape, looking for all the world like Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights? Or was it an attempt to offer up Matthew Macfadyen as a wet shirted substitute for Colin Firth? Other choices seem to defy any analysis. Why turn Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) into a giggling idiot, someone not safe to be let out unattended? Why would Darcy befriend such a man, and what could possibly induce Jane Bennet (Rosamund Pike) to shackle herself to him for life? Charlotte Lucas (Claudie Blakley) appears fortunate by comparison. Charlotte’s fear of (more…)
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The Sheet Music for Austen Film Scores

Jane Austen loved to play the pianoforte. She used to copy out music from her friends into books that remain in the Chawton House library to this day. Many of these pieces- classics by Bach, Mozart, Handel and others – are readily available for today’s musicians. If you want to try your hand yourself, A Carriage Ride In Queen’s Square, a wonderful compendium of original ‘easy to play piano pieces for Jane Austen’s Bath’ with a playalong CD included, is currently available from the Jane Austen Gift Shop. But what if you want to play music from the movie soundtracks? Surely these evoke the spirit of Jane Austen at least as much as the period pieces. Fortunately, many of these- from the original dances used in the movies- to sheet music of the film scores are easily obtained. Perhaps the most comprehensive collection of works is Jane Austen’s World published by Faber music. It includes: Emma by Rachel Portman- Frank Churchill Arrives Emma (End Titles) Sense and Sensibility by Patrick Doyle- My Father’s Favourite Devonshire All The Better For Her Excellent Notion The Dreame Pride and Prejudice by Carl Davis Pride & Prejudice Theme Canon Collins The Gardiners Summary Persuasion by Jeremy Sams Persuasion Main Theme Tristesse Italian Aria Another book, Jane Austen, the Music  includes a greater range of pieces from both Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Its contents are: Sense and Sensibility Weep You No More, Sad Fountains A Particular Sum My Father’s Favourite Patience All the Delights (more…)
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A Guinea Pig Pride and Prejudice: A Review

a-guinea-pig-pride-prejudiceA review by Continue reading A Guinea Pig Pride and Prejudice: A Review

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Jane Austen in the Digital Age: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

By Priyanka Chavda Jane Austen’s influence has continued to grow since her publication in the 19th century, and one of the most loved novels, Pride and Prejudice has seen an array of adaptations from the 1995 BBC adaptation with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle to Gurinder Chadha’s Bride and Prejudice. The attempt to re-connect with the author and her classic works, and open it to modern audience has taken a new direction. One such success was made by American video production company Pemberley Digital, who adapt classic works onto new media platforms. Utilising social media – Youtube, Twitter, Tumbler, Pinterest to name a few they open classic literature to a wider audience whilst telling an enriched and innovative story. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, introduces audiences to the well-loved characters from the novel but with a slight twist. Bernie Su and Hank Green, the creators have a wider scope, free from the costumes and Regency setting they are able to modernise Austen’s novel though the world of social media. Rejuvenating the novel whilst remaining faithful to the original the adaptation recaptures Austen and presents Pride and Prejudice in a whole new light. The cast of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries connected with audiences through Twitter, Blogging and Youtube. Narrated by 24-year old graduate Elizabeth Bennett (played by Ashley Clements) from California, the series is a video diary on her life since completing college and moving back home, her overbearing mother, her relationship with sisters and Mr Darcy. Each 10 minute clip shows (more…)
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Marrying Mr. Darcy – A Review

Marrying Mr. DarcyMarrying Mr. Darcy: Winning in Marriage is Entirely a Matter of Chance! A review by Meredith Esparza from Austenesque Reviews Awhile back I met Erika Svanoe on Twitter and I saw that she was running a Kickstarter campaign for her new game, Marrying Mr. Darcy. As a Janeite who loves to play games (especially Jane Austen related games) I knew I had to support her campaign and obtain a copy of this new game for myself! Several months later (because the Kickstarter was super successful!) I became the happy owner of this new and unique card game. I decided to coerce my family to play it with me! I thought it would be fun to share our experience playing the game with you all, so I wrote up a review! Game Overview: Marrying Mr. Darcy is a card game with elegantly designed cards, full of heroines, suitors, events, and character cards. The object of the game is to accumulate the most points. There are two stages of the game in which to collect points – The Courtship Stage and The Proposal Stage.   During The Courtship Stage points are earned by collecting Character cards – there are 4 types of Character cards highlighting various attributes – Wit, Beauty, Reputation, and Friendliness. Event cards determine when each player receives, steals, or loses Character cards. The Proposal Stage is very brief, it is when all the players attempt to match their heroine with 1 of the 6 possible suitors. Each suitor has different (more…)
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