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Jane Austen News – Issue 33

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?


Colin Firth Doesn’t Think Mr Darcy Is Attractive

mr-darcy-coverColin Firth has confessed that he doesn’t understand why Mr Darcy is so popular. In fact he said that he took the role not to be a heart-throb but because he “thought it would be quite fun and liberating to play someone who was completely and utterly dislikeable, unsympathetic, judgemental and snobbish.”

While speaking to the Daily Mail he also said;

I didn’t have to think about bringing charm to the role – the way I saw it, I just had to stand there and make everyone hate me … then this weird thing happened where people liked him, which wasn’t what I was expecting at all! We’re 20 years on and I still don’t understand it.

He may not understand how it happened, but he most definitely did make Mr Darcy a success.

And Adrain Lukis Doesn’t Think Mr Wickham Is That Bad     

1jarw.jpg.galleryFrom one actor with an unusual take on his character to another.

Many would consider Mr Wickham, with his attempted, and later successful, elopements and his constant lying, to be the villain of Pride and Prejudice. However, Adrian Lukis who played him in the 1995 BBC production doesn’t see him that way.

While speaking to reporter Flora Thompson he said

I do not see Wickham as an out-and-out villain. People are not meant to see him as that – he is an adventurer, he doesn’t have any money – we all know someone like that. He lives on his wits.

I went about preparing for the character by using how he is described by others in the book – he is seen as an amiable man who is economical with the truth. That’s how I chose to play him, not as an archetypal villain.

Ever Jane – Jane Austen as a Role Playing Game

i927zkeoe3ecgqmucfz8Following a successful Kickstarter campaign which was begun in 2013 and raised $US110,000, the new Jane Austen MMORG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game –  a type of game genre which allows thousands of gamers to play in the game’s evolving virtual world at the same time) called Ever Jane has reached its beta test stages.

The full game is set to be released next year and can involve quests such as delivering a handkerchief or wrangling a sheep, and character stats, including status, kindness, duty and reputation. One tester said of the game: “I encountered about a dozen characters total, all of whom remained dapper and spoke in proper English throughout my in-game travels, which at one point led me to an elegant ballroom.”

The lead developer of the game, Judy L. Tyrer, does make it clear that this is not your normal online game; “It’s not about kill or be killed, but invite or be invited. Instead of raids, we will have grand balls. Instead of dungeons, we will have dinner parties.”

At the Jane Austen News we’re most curious to see the finished result when it’s available next year!

Author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to be Sued by Publisher  

Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesAlways a controversial subject among Austen fans is that of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Now its author Seth Grahame-Smith is in hot water again, only this time with his publisher.

In 2010, Grahame-Smith signed a $1 million deal for two books; one a follow-up to his book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and the second a novel on a new topic to be delivered in 2013. Both, unlike Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, were meant to be entirely his own work and not a mash-up with another classic author’s work. Unfortunately after 34 months of delays, Grahame-Smith finally submitted a manuscript so disappointing that his publisher Hachette has filed a lawsuit against him for the money which they had advanced for the works.

Hachette’s legal complaint says that the new manuscript was meant to be “original with Author in all respects,” (Hachette describes the manuscript he submitted as “in large part an appropriation of a 120-year-old public-domain work”) and said that it “is not comparable in style and quality to Smith’s wholly original bestseller Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”

Grahame-Smith is yet to make a statement commenting on the lawsuit.

If Zack Synder Did Sense and Sensibility…     

Zack Snyder – director of the films 300Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has a very distinct style. He goes for moody, dark, rain soaked, shots full of slow-motion effects in his films. This is great for thrillers and action films, but not an approach we at the Jane Austen News would naturally think of using for the retelling of a literary classic.

So with this juxtaposition in mind some of his fans have made a parody imaging what it might be like if he did. Sense and Sensibility Synder-style begins in the film below at 1:30.

National Treasures That Have Nearly Been Lost   

_90941634_coronet_2A sapphire and diamond coronet given to Queen Victoria by her beloved husband Albert has been placed under a temporary export bar, just like Jane Austen’s famous turquoise ring once was after Kelly Clarkson bought it at auction.  

A temporary export bar is something which the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest can place on an object deemed as a national treasure. This bar stops the object from leaving the country for a time in order that UK-based individuals or institutions can attempt to raise enough money to buy and keep it.

The asking price for the 11.5cm wide coronet, which is mounted with 11 sapphires all set in gold and diamonds set in silver, has an asking price of £5million. The Department for Culture Media and Sport said a final decision over the export licence on the coronet will be deferred until 27 December.

We’ll have to wait and see if, like with Jane’s ring, the bar is successful in saving the coronet from being sent overseas.

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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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith

A review by Laurel Ann Nattress

We’ll confess all right up front. We don’t quite understand what the fuss is over Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Jane Austen ate our brain long ago and we have been an Austen zombie ever since, attentively working away for 200 years for her cause in pursuit of more brains to initiate into the holy sect of The Gentle Reproof and Witty Banter Society. Our diligence has paid off. Pride and Prejudice is the most popular book in print short of the Bible, she is the darling of scholars and Hollywood, internet websites and blogs herald her charms, and even other authors flatter her by attempting to emulate her style. The assimilation plan has been successful. It was never a hard sell. Quality rarely is.

We were mildly amused when a frenzy erupted in the media after the news of the publication of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was announced. Some social climbing author out in Hollywood had hitched his wagon to her star lifting 85% of her text and mixing in bone-crunching zombie mayhem into her genteel story. *Yawn* He claims he has transformed “a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read.” Oh really? Given that Pride and Prejudice has more editions in print than any other novel, it appears that several people have wanted to read a masterpiece of world literature since its first publication in 1813. We shall see if author Seth Grahame-Smith will need to retract that statement, or throw down the gauntlet and meet us at dawn with swords.

And so Gentle Readers take heed. A mysterious plague has befallen Regency England killing the living and reviving them back to life as the undead who must feed on the living to survive. The conflict in town is fierce, spreading to the countryside and into the village of Meryton where Elizabeth Bennet and her family reside nearby at Longbourn. Mr. Bennet extricated from his library has dedicated himself instead to training his five daughters from an early age in the deadly arts, traveling with them to China to attend Ninja finishing school with a Shaolin Master. His business in life was to keep them alive. The business of Mrs. Bennet’s was to get them married. When Netherfield Park is let at last, Mrs. Bennet is hopeful that the new resident Mr. Bingley and his friends might marry one or another of her daughters. When Meryton society finally meets Mr. Bingley, they agree that he is was good-looking and gentlemanlike, but his fine friend Mr. Darcy, with his noble mien, gave immediate disgust even though he was reputed to have slaughtered more than a thousand unmentionables since the fall of Cambridge. After he slights Elizabeth, claiming her to be only tolerable and not handsome enough to temp him to dance, the warrior code in her demands she avenge her honour and open his throat with her dagger. Her warrior duty delays her instincts as the dance is suddenly invaded by a maraudring horde of unmentionables who break through the windows, attack the guests, and devour the head of Mrs. Long. Elizabeth and her four sisters rip out their razor-sharp daggers and make short work of beheading all the sorry stricken. Darcy watches in wonder, knowing of only one other woman in England who could match her accomplishments. The spark has been ignited. The zombie love story begins.

It is now “a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” (Usurper! That is our campaign slogan. I guess we should ™ trade mark it.) We continue along in this manner following Jane Austen’s plot interjected with Grahame-Smith’s fanciful parody of zombie bedlam. It appears that anyone who is not a ninja warrior is a target for zombie destruction, so if there is a character from the original plot ripe for reproach, then it is sure to happen. Brains and vomit seem to go hand and hand. We see Elizabeth Bennet as the defender of Longbourn and the Heroine of Hertfordshire battle zombies, spar with Mr. Darcy and literally kick ass in an ultimate ninja throw down with the officious Lady Catherine de Bourgh. If the concept of Jane Austen’s refined country gentry and gory zombie destruction are in conflict, think again. Like the warrior Bennet sisters who have refined their deadly skills into an art of precision and style, Grahame-Smith knows his zombie lore, skillfully incorporating a genre wholly at odds to the context of Jane Austen’s elegantly refined prose, yet working within its strengths to achieve his goal to have fun with a literary classic, and well, lets face it, make money. Given the fervent response by the public and the media to the book’s announcement last January, we are not surprised that there is a bidding war underway with major movie studios for film rights. Even though this high concept parody is amusing in print, we doubt very much if it will be buffo box office. Given the passions of thirteen year-old boys for gore and goo, we may stand to be corrected.

So who will like this book? Certainly not the Austen purist without a sense of humor. They will not even get past the gruesome cover. Not zombie fans, who will be annoyed having to trudge through a masterpiece of world literature to get to the scant zombie action. So that leaves the rest of us. Those loyal and devoted members of The Gentle Reprove and Witty Banter Society who, like Jane Austen, enjoy a good campy and gory Gothic novel, recognize tongue-in-cheek humor, and have been happily doing so for over 200 hundred years.

Buy online at our own – click here!

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books, US (1 April 2009)
Language: English
RRP: £8.99
ISBN-10: 1594743347
ISBN-13: 978-1594743344


Laurel Ann Nattress is a life-long acolyte of Jane Austen having been converted at a young age by the BBC/PBS 1979 mini-series Pride and Prejudice. Therefore, anyone who calls David Rintoul’s interpretation of Mr. Darcy wooden must be prepared for the consequences. On a whim she was inspired to create Austenprose, a blog honoring the brilliance of Jane Austen’s writing, and also co-blogs at Jane Austen Today, with Vic (Ms. Place). She delights in introducing neophytes to the charms of Miss Austen’s prose as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. An expatriate of southern California, she lives near Seattle, Washington where it rains a lot.