Lost in Austen, again

Brian has begun an evening class this week, so I’ve taken the initiative to start getting ahead on projects that have been on my to-do list for months now.  Except at work this week we’re tearing things down, moving stuff, and still serving library patrons.  So, instead of coming home and working, I’ve been coming home and watching Netflix.   But nice thing is that I can choose whatever I want, so tonight was Lost in Austen because I’m a sucker for Jane Austen.

Even though it has been years since I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, or have even watched Firth dive into the pond, I still find myself fascinated with the author.  Her life intrigues/inspires me.  In Lost in Austen, the main character Elizabeth Bennet is missing for most of the film as she is in modern twentieth century (first footnote/side observation: it really is Elizabeth Bennet that carries the story of Pride and Prejudice.  Her absence did make the film exceedingly long).  Once we finally see Elizabeth, her hair is cut short and she looks almost like a punk rocker.  And she has already adapted to all the minute details of the digital world.  She has a line that goes something along the lines that she really is living in the wrong century and should be living in the twentieth century.  It has been said before that Jane Austen was in the wrong century.

With the growth of feminism, the character of Jane Austen has become even more of a legend.  She is close to being a fictional character herself.  We all hope that she was spunky and outspoken.  We have all created our own imaginary Jane Austen.  And with her letters I do think that she was spunky, but I am not sure if I am convinced of her being a proto-feminist.  Jane Austen was an astute observer, she was intelligent and had great insight into the doings of people.  There could be much speculation about her being a feminist, but at the end of the day she is a mystery.  Her family has chosen it that her letters be burnt and that a glowing portrait be written instead.  Isn’t it frustrating that there isn’t a good picture of her?

Maybe Jane Austen would have been a digital native, but I think she had a great heart in spite of her sometimes biting remarks.  And for that, I think, she may have been at least able to find love and perhaps pursue her craft a little more freely.  And if she had a second life, maybe, just maybe, she would consider letting someone keep her emails?

On a complete side note, because it can’t helped but be addressed.  I found the film mostly amusing, sometimes boring or painful.  In the end, it was a film to make fun of all the girls in love with Mr. Darcy/Colin Firth.   It was a film for the girls who live in hope of a glitzy over-the-top out-of-this-world romance.  May we all find Mr. Darcy.


Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

Once it was announced, I completely forgot about this book.  Perhaps it was due to the wedding, setting up house, or just getting into the swing of things, but I had no recollection of the book until Brian got it for my birthday a couple weeks ago.  With school reading, I just finished it last weekend.  And it was fun.  Which is probably the most common criticism about the book.

Compared to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies [PPZ], Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters [SSSM] rates a bit higher.  The second author, Ben H. Winters, adds two additional story-lines (which doesn’t just include whether or not a main character is going to morph into a sea monster like Charlotte Lucas’ dilemma in PPZ).   I read through the book quickly, not just for the laughs, but to figure out whether or not Margaret was really insane.  Whereas in Sense and Sensibility she is overlooked, here in Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters she actually takes a larger role.  She foretells the rising of the Leviathan (taken from the book of Job in the Bible). Now, Winters doesn’t take the Leviathan much of any direction, but it is a rip-off of the book, so why put much effort into it?

I doubt that people are going to read the actual stories as a result of reading these and that die-hards are actually going to enjoy them, but they do exceed in the ironic Jane way of reading which is why I like them so much [taken from Natalie Tyler’s book, The Friendly Jane Austen: A Well-Mannered Introduction to a Lady of Sense and Sensibility].  Rather than being over-romanticized, they take the silly approach which is the way I’ve read Jane Austen for so many years.  I could care less about her over-heroic men; what I enjoyed was Jane Austen’s sarcastic and often very insightful outlooks on her society.  And that’s what these books bring to light again — the fun and enjoyable aspect of reading Jane Austen.

Future Books 2009

Coming out in June 2009, is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: “The Classic Regency Romance — Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!” (follow the link — the cover of the book is worth it).

Yes, this is a real book (or will be in 06/09).  Another adaption of the famous novel, but perhaps not your typical romance story.  Most Jane Austen adaptations are awful, especially since they are just fantasies of young women who wish to be living in a Jane Austen novel, but this may be one I’d actually like to thumb through.  If anything, just for the ridiculous cover (the link is worth it).

And of course, it is written by a man who attempts to “transform a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read”.

Jane Austen

BPortrait of Jane Austeneing a Circulation Manager I have the job of creating (or more, making sure my college students create it) a display case once a month.  This month being February, a student began a Valentine’s Day display, but since the holiday is one day and rather weak for a display case, we added Jane Austen.  I do love Jane Austen, but not in the high-school girly way.  I like Jane Austen in an intellectual way.  I wish I could have done more, but I passed it off to my students to finish (supplying my several books and other misc. objects) so it turned into more of a highschool girl display.  Still it was well-done.  Thinking about the recent fan admiration of Jane Austen, I decided to write a bit about the bad highschool girl books/movies I have seen lately.

First book is a recent novel called “Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen” and while it is written by a Jane Austen enthusiast, it is bone-dry.  It is a creative idea in trying to aquaint readers with Jane Austen and I appreciate that it does attempt to write another sequel to one of Austen’s novels.  Yet while it is a fresh approach to the Jane Austen sequel rage, it does little else.  The striving to use the same English as Jane Austen was perhaps the weakest part of the book.  If you are a sequel enthusiast, this would be a great book.

 I have yet to see the recent film adaptation of Jane Austen Book Club, but if it is anything like the book I really don’t want to see it.  It is too easy to take modern day characters that are anything but the typical Jane Austen fanatics and make their lives parallel to Jane Austen’s novels.  Mostly this operates as a book of not what to do if you desire to write a Jane Austen sequel or any other sort of Jane Austen themed book.  It could have been better, but sadly it was not.

 photo credit: english.penn.edu