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The Advantages of Austen in an American High School

Jane Austin News

The Advantages of Austen in an American High School

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Sense and Sensibility and Accidental(?) Feminism

Jane Austen News

Sense and Sensibility and Accidental(?) Feminism

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Top 10 Romantic Quotes – Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility Ranks Number 1

Jane Austen News

Top 10 Romantic Quotes – Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility Ranks Number 1

Continue reading Top 10 Romantic Quotes – Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility Ranks Number 1

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Don’t Insult Your Children, Give Them Jane Austen by Allison Burr

Give Them Jane Austen by Allison Burr

Don’t Insult Your Children, Give Them Jane Austen by Allison Burr

My kids saw that scoundrel Willoughby at Chic-Fil-A last night.

Or so they thought.

Willoughby - a cad by Jane Austen

We had just finished our chicken sandwiches and waffle fries and were headed off to Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God concert, but all four kids stopped dead in their tracks when they saw the unsuspecting dark-haired, large-eyed teenage boy behind the counter. I could read their body language; if this was indeed Willoughby, as they frantically whispered in my ear, he would surely do something reprehensible at any moment.  And they weren’t going to miss it.

Much to their chagrin, we ushered them out the door, and the Willoughby look-a-like was left to finish his work without further danger of besiegement.

In their overactive 10-, 8-, 7-, and 3-year-old minds, they had seen a villain behind the counter. The details of this poor boy’s true identity are of no consequence. The more important reality is that Jane Austen had captured their hearts and imaginations, and my children have not yet entered adolescence.

This surely qualifies as a parental milestone.

Now, I know the purists contend that the consumption of the screen portrayal should never precede the consumption of the written. I don’t hold to that particular standard (but undoubtedly have my own purist standards in other areas). As such, when we began the several-hour long 2008 BBC version of Sense and Sensibility, my kids were immediately enthralled and the questions came with great rapidity.

With my finger perpetually on the pause button in order to field the inquiries, I responded to these (and more) from both my daughters and my son:

How could John Dashwood be so weak? And Fanny be so evil?

Why don’t Elinor and Edward marry each other?

Why exactly is Marianne so foolish?

What does Elinor mean when she says she doesn’t disapprove of Marianne, but only her conduct?

Why doesn’t Willoughby act like a gentleman?

Colonel Brandon is the hero; right? Why can’t Marianne see that?

Why is Lucy Steele engaged to Edward when Edward is clearly meant for Elinor and Lucy seems so sneaky and unkind?

How can Mrs. Ferrars be so utterly vicious and yet everyone is falling down to worship her?

Can we please, please, live in a cottage by the seaside and string up seashells in the garden?

Other than the last one (which breaks my heart to say probably not), I delighted in pausing the visually stunning jewel to help my young children frame the story, discern wisdom from folly, and mourn over the broken hearts of Colonel Brandon and Elinor.

The sumptuous period dress, the breathtaking landscape, the awe-inspiring country manors, and the rapid-fire colloquy amongst some of Austen’s most remarkable characters were exactly the type of feast my kids deserved. Not a culinary feast, mind you; but a literary, moral, and visual one.

Go-to books for a JaneiteWhy settle for one-dimensional twaddle that insults the Imago Dei status of your children, when you can bring them before the work of a master craftsman from another era?

No, my children did not understand every aspect of the witty repartee.  Nor could they grasp the magnitude of the moral and social norms under Miss Austen’s microscope.  But every morning, I read my children the Bible, and they also read it for themselves.  We require this in our family, even while knowing that they cannot possibly understand the depth of the riches contained therein.  But their current ages and developmental limitations should not preclude them from partaking in the banquet table in whatever ways they are able.

In the same way, when I first began reading Austen’s works 16 years ago, in a Brit Lit college course, I am quite certain I appreciated only a minuscule percentage of what Jane Austen was doing.  Two years later, I spent a semester researching and writing an honors thesis on the French Revolution’s impact on Austen’s body of work.  Clearly, I was smitten with her literature and desired to dig deeper.  And yet, every time I revisit Emma or Pride and Prejudice, I surely continue to miss nuances and connections, all these years later.  But I keep savoring the feast, both by book and by screen – and it is altogether better to do so alongside the inquiring, hungry minds of my children.

****

Note: I recommend, without reservation, this series of 12 audio lectures by Professor Jerram Barrs of the Francis Schaeffer Institute on the life and works of Jane Austen.  The series is free for download, after a quick registration process, courtesy of Covenant Seminary.

Parental disclaimer:  Because my children are so young, I skipped the (brief) opening scene of the 2008 BBC version of Sense and Sensibility, and instead gave a brief synopsis to my children of an immoral man victimizing a young girl. 

 

*****

About the author Allison Burr:

Allison Burr resides in Franklin, TN, with her husband and four children. Allison Burr is primarily a homeschooling mama, but also an adjunct professor at New College Franklin, co-founder of Sword & Trowel, and resident domestic theologian at TruthBeautyGoodness.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 101

one of the new costume dramas to watch

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? Costume Dramas! 

 


Historical Accuracy Vs. Diversity

We love costumes dramas. Some of our favourite recent viewings have been the hit costume dramas shown over Christmas. We had the sumptuous The Miniaturist, we had a new three-part adaptation of Little Women, and we’ve had a Call The Midwife Christmas special. Over the past few years we’ve had Downton Abbey, The Crown, Lark Rise to Candleford, Cranford, War and Peace… We could go on.

However, while we’ve very much enjoyed these, in an interview about being based in Britain, actress Thandie Newton has highlighted a problem about having a dominance of costume dramas in the British entertainment industry.

I can’t work, because I can’t do Downton Abbey, can’t be in Victoria, can’t be in Call The Midwife … there just seems to be a desire for stuff about the royal family, stuff from the past, which is understandable, but it just makes it slim pickings for people of colour.

Part of the problem is that if every costume drama is adapted from a book which only features upper-class white characters, then that’s all there will be on TV. Historical accuracy is one thing, but should it come at the cost of diversity within the acting world? Some within the television and film industry are calling for script writers to write scripts which allow for a more diverse range of actors to be represented within the cast. Afterall, if Maxine Peake can play the male role of Hamlet at the National Theatre, why can’t an actor like Idris Alba play Colonel Brandon?

What are your thoughts?

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 101

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Jane Austen News – Issue 59

The Jane Austen News is: Martin Salter

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   

Mr Bennet With Us For Ten Years!!!    
Our Mr Bennet (A.K.A. Martin, our meeter-greeter who welcomes all our visitors to the Jane Austen Centre) has been with us for ten years! So to celebrate we arranged a little surprise for him…


10 Must-See Locations for Literature Lovers 

The Telegraph recently published their top ten literary tours that literature lovers ought to take this year. Happily, a tour of Jane Austen’s England was on the list…but only at number five! Even though this year is Jane Austen 200 and events are taking place all over the country to celebrate!

So who beat her in the top ten?

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 59

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Jane Austen News – Issue 35

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 

Pride and Prejudice At The Ballet      

screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-17-11-13

Stage adaptations of Jane Austen have become increasingly popular in recent years (we look at one such adaptation later on in this week’s Jane Austen News). We’ve had one-woman shows, Jane Austen musicals, Jane Austen improv, but one we personally haven’t come across before is one of Jane Austen’s novels staged as a ballet. However Ballet Fantastique will be doing just that. Their first show of the 2016-17 season is bringing back a 2012 premiere, Pride and Prejudice: A Parisian Jazz Ballet.

“We’re taking the classic Jane Austen novel and remixing it with 1920s Paris,” said their marketing director Katey Finley in a recent interview. “A live band will be wearing snazzy suits and playing live period jazz along with great choreography, like doing The Charleston en pointe.”

How fantastic is that?!


A Book Of One’s Own

mrs-norris-1983-anna-massey

Orion recently bought the novel Perception by Terri Fletcher, which will chronicle the life of Mary Bennet, the third Bennet sister, after Jane, Elizabeth and Lydia leave Longbourne. In the past all of the Bennet sisters have at one time or another seen the spotlight and had new adventures written about them, but a recent blog post by Alicia Kort has got us thinking on the subject of literary women whose stories deserve further exploration. What other strong female characters in literature deserve their own novels but as of yet haven’t been given one?

Alicia suggests; Hermione Granger (The Harry Potter series), Dasiy Buchanan (The Great Gatsby), Teresa Agnes (The Maze Runner), and Sam Dutton (The Perks of Being a Wallflower). These are all great suggestions, but at the Jane Austen News we can think of more than just the Bennet sisters who could fill a book of their own. The tale of Mrs Norris’s first love anyone?


Sense and Sensibility Too Sensible?    
wk-stage0916-3The New York theatre company Bedlam is staging a new adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, but rather than focusing primarily on the romance of the story, director and co-founder Eric Tucker wants to bring out the comedy within the novel that he feels is all too often overlooked.

To do this Tucker is making the play more minimalist and modern. He’s getting rid of detailed backdrops and putting wheels on all of the furniture so it can be easily moved, and used; when a young woman is fleeing social judgment she scoots away on a chair, only to be pursued by the gossips on their own mobile seating. Tucker uses physical theatre and a brisk pace to bring out the wit that he feels can be lost in a lot of adaptations.

A lot of the movie versions of Austen tamp down the comedy and make the stories period-piece melodrama. I didn’t want that. I wanted it to be raw and modern. One of the reviews said our ‘Sense and Sensibility’ was Dickensian. I liked that. Our production in New York was very bawdy, and it surprised people who thought they didn’t like Austen. But she was pretty wicked in her letters — very gossipy, saying the most awful things about people.

Eric Tucker

At the Jane Austen News we wish them the best of luck with their new production. Jane had so much wit and so many comedic moments in her novels and this is not always remembered; we think she’d approve.


What Made Colin Firth Reject Mark Darcy    

bridget-jones-3-trailer2
With the recent UK release of Bridget Jones’s Baby, Colin Firth has been giving quite a few interviews to help promote the film, and, of course, in a fair few of them the subject of Mr Darcy comes up. One that caught our eye was an interview he gave to Eric Eisenberg for CinemaBlend.com. In the interview Firth talks about how, even following such amazing success with the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice where he played a modern traditional Darcy, he originally turned down the role of Mark Darcy who he plays in the Bridget Jones films.

I started off thinking there was no way in with that character. I originally turned it down, because I didn’t think… how do you play this guy who doesn’t do anything really? He just sort of stands around and scowls and looks imperious. And I thought, ‘Well, sure, I can do that, but will anyone give a damn? It’s not appealing!

Happily he kept the role in mind and eventually came round to the idea thinking:

‘Well, maybe there’s something fun in that. You don’t have to be charming. You just have to be incredibly distant and dislikable.’ And I thought, ‘That’s pretty liberating!’ So that was an incentive.

We didn’t know he’d turned the role down at first, but we’re glad he changed his mind! It’s hard to imagine the Bridget Jones films or the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice being such a success without him.


Unleashing Mr Darcy   
90And from one Mr Darcy to another.

Another modern film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice has been made and just released by Hallmark.

In this version of Pride & Prejudice, Elizabeth Scott (Cindy Busby) decides to show her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in a dog show in New York, but she clashes with the arrogant judge Donovan Darcy (Ryan Paevey). In true Jane Austen fashion, Elizabeth learns that Mr. Darcy is far more kind and interesting than she ever imagined.

In this video Ryan Paevey talks about his views on Darcy, and just why his Darcy finds Lizzy so attractive and irritating. Some clips from the film and more details can be found here.


Love and Friendship   

loveetcThere’s less than a week to go before Whit Stillman’s film adaptation of Love and Friendship is released on DVD in the UK, and we can’t wait! It’s due out on Monday 26th September and we have the date marked on our calendar. Though if you’re a U.S. Jane Austen fan you don’t have to wait because the DVD came out in the U.S. on September 6th. We’re a little jealous…


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.

Don’t miss our latest news – become a Jane Austen Member and receive a digest of stories, articles and news every week. You will also be able to access our online Magazine with over 1000 articles, test your knowledge with our weekly quiz and get offers on our Online Giftshop. Plus new members get an exclusive 10% off voucher to use in the Online Giftshop.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 23

Regency Bath

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?

Bath One of the Best Literary Breaks in the UK    

england-bath1According to Travel Weekly Bath is one of the top ten UK cities to visit for a literary break. While many authors have lived and visited Bath over the years, including Charles Dickens and Mary Shelley, the focus of Travel Weekly‘s literary break in Bath was, of course, Jane Austen. We were delighted to see that one of their recommended highlights of Jane Austen’s Bath including visiting the Jane Austen Centre, and also staying during September for the Jane Austen Festival.

Other destinations which made the top ten were Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury, Sherlock Holme’s London, Beatrix Potter’s Lake District and Brontë Country (Haworth/Top Withens/Thornton).


Writing Women Onto The Stage Via Jane Austen

ashley_garrett_0623_.jpg.644x432_q100Kate Hamill was fed up with the lack of female roles onstage, so she decided to do something about it. The result was her award-winning adaptation of adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.

“I had been an actor for many years,” Hamill said, “and was frustrated because oftentimes when you’re a woman, you’re competing with 400 other actresses to play someone’s wife… girlfriend… prostitute.” She explained the lack of strong, complicated heroines, such as those created by Austen, on stage: “most adapters are not young women.” As such she became an adapter herself.

This spirit of creating the stories (or in this case creating the roles) which you want to read (or play) is very much in the spirit of Jane Austen. When Jane Austen was writing there was a severe lack of strong female characters so she made her own. It seems only fitting then that her work is still helping to promote the work of other women today.

Kate Hamill and fellow actor Andrus Nichols will be bringing their production, which premiered in 2014, back to the Gym at Judson in New York from June 17th–October 2nd.


Jane Austen – Recommended Reading for the First Lady     

https://twitter.com/GilmoreGirls/status/746495260440723456

Actress Alexis Bledel, while in her character of the iconic bookworm Rory Gilmore, from the hit TV show the Gilmore Girls, payed a visit to America’s First Lady, Michelle Obama so they could talk books. The resulting video sketch was published on the official Gilmore Girls Twitter account.

It was done in an attempt to help promoting Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative, which speak to young girls about the importance of education and staying in school. Some of Gilmore’s recommendations included: Shakespeare – “because you can’t go wrong with the Bard” – Marilyn Robinson, Graham Green, “a little Proust” and Jane Austen. (“I mean, come on, Jane Austen!)

We at the Jane Austen News are sure that this is exactly the kind of initiative that Jane would be keen to get involved with!

 


Five Things That Pride and Prejudice Can Teach Us About Romance    

fairy-tale-pride-and-prejudice-featuredOne article that we came across this week is Five Things That Pride and Prejudice Can Teach Us About Romance. These were:

  • You don’t have to show your “goods” to get a man’s attention
  • It’s OK to not be good at everything
  • Don’t settle for less than the best
  • It’s OK to challenge each other
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover

We’re sure that Pride and Prejudice has far more to teach us about romance than just these five lessons. What other important lessons do you think should have been included in the list?


Did They Make The Right Matches in Sense and Sensibility?  
crime-and-punishment-in-sense-and-sensibility-did-the-characters-make-the-right-choices-1031211What would have happened if Willoughby and Marianne had ended up together? Would Marianne have been happier with him than with Colonel Brandon? What if Edward had married Lucy? Would Elinor have been so unhappy alone?

One thing that many fans of Jane Austen love about her novels is that the bad characters are punished and the good characters are rewarded in the end. But are they always? This article from Janee Heimdal asks if all of the characters really get the endings they deserve based on their actions.

Edward’s impeccable character deserves to be rewarded, but what about Lucy? She isn’t outwardly awful, but when I imagine Lucy as a villain I see her insinuating herself with Edward’s sister, Fanny. So does like cleave to like in this case? Yes.

Do you agree that everyone in Sense and Sensibility got the rewards, or punishments as the case may be, that their actions deserved?


Dancing Like Jane Austen in California     

mrs parks regency rout 1Jane Austen fans living in California had fun on Saturday learning how to dance like Jane Austen. Hosted by Period Entertainments and Recreational Costuming of Fresno, the dance featured live musicians, light refreshments and the chance to experience a little taste of a bygone era. The dances were taught before they were danced, with calling by popular folk musician Evo Bluesmen.

Mrs Parks’ Regency Rout is one of our favourite Regency dance events to have been held in the past week because it was such a nice blend of the modern and traditional.

Things which the dance had which weren’t 18th Century but were very much needed: central air conditioning, indoor plumbing, electricity and no requirement for women to arrive with an escort.

Attendees were also asked to “Please feel free to gender self-identify and dance with whomever your heart desires, regardless of whether they wear a gown or pantaloons.”

The Jane Austen News hopes that more all-inclusive and accepting dance events like this one will be held in the future!


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.

Don’t miss our latest news – become a Jane Austen Member and receive a digest of stories, articles and news every week. You will also be able to access our online Magazine with over 1000 articles, test your knowledge with our weekly quiz and get offers on our Online Giftshop. Plus new members get an exclusive 10% off voucher to use in the Online Giftshop.

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