Good job, guys! According to a study by people who track library loans, Pride and Prejudice is the most loaned classic in the UK! (Wuthering Heights is #2.) Jane takes three more of the top 20 spots as well:
- #8 Emma
- #11 Sense and Sensibility
- #17 Northanger Abbey
The Telegraph‘s article says, “The study involves a comparison of lending data from Britain’s libraries for 50 classics by British and Irish authors from the literary canon from the early 1990s, a decade ago, and last year.”
Mission #1: People of Britain, read more Austen! I want to see Persuasion and Mansfield Park on this list next time too. We can’t leave Anne Elliot out in the cold and Fanny Price sitting on her bench, now can we?? And let’s get those other numbers up, too. (Special Sneak Preview: Austenacious will do our part by hosting another read-a-long soon!) People of Not Britain: don’t think I’m not watching you too!
Also according to The Telegraph, “Works by Thomas Hardy, George Eliot and EM Forster have seen their popularity plummet over the last two decades . . ..”
I’m not going to say a word for Thomas Hardy. (Anyone want to take that on in the comments?) But, EM Forster, you guys! I love EM Forster. A Room With a View, anyone? Howards End? So beautiful! So smart! The article says maybe Austen got more popular because of the adaptations, and because of her “rather too light, bright, sparkling tone.” (Though George Orwell also got more popular, and he’s, like, super-funny, right?)
Forster is comic, just as much as Austen, so maybe we need more adaptations? I love the 1985 version of A Room with a View—Helena Bonham Carter, before she was crazy! Naked guys! … Good lord, has it really been that long? IMDB says there’s also a 2007 version, which I completely missed. Have any of you seen it? Thoughts? We could do better, though, right?
For Howards End there’s just the 1992 version with Emma Thompson. I’m conflicted here—I really don’t think this book is adaptable. But if anyone wants to have a go, feel free!
Then there’s our girl George Eliot. I’ll admit I’ve only ever read Middlemarch, and I only read that because of the 1994 version. (See, TV adaptations pay off!) Middlemarch is pretty awesome—though it’s not as joyous as Austen and Forster, it does have depth, without being as, um, self-conscious as the Brontës. Do we want a new Middlemarch adaptation? But Rufus Sewell and Colin’s brother Jonathon are so cute… Juliet Aubrey is so Dorothea…. I don’t know. What do you all think?
Mission #2: People of Britain and Not Britain, read more Forster! Read more Eliot! Demand quality adaptations, or make your own crazy vlogs! Or both! Think, live, breathe fiction!
P.S. (Mission #3: Contemplate Colin Firth’s legs.)
Photo credit: dbking. Used under Creative Commons licensing.
This week, only 13 years late: BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth!
As many of you know, I first saw this a few weeks ago. There’s nothing like some good MST3K time with my beloved sisters. But, I have to admit, I came out of it pretty meh. I am not the adoring fan that I know so many of you are. I can see why you love it! I can see it as a good intro to Austen. And I didn’t hate it. But it wasn’t enough to sway my persnickety self from the 1980 version, and, so much better than both, the book itself. Deep thoughts:
- It’s pretty close to the book, lots of word for word, even if they did leave out some of my favorite lines. Though the post-Lydia-eloping part gets really compacted in this version. Seems like all the characters do is get in and out of carriages.
- I actually liked the scene-setting parts that aren’t in the book—showing the countryside and town and all. You get a better sense of their world.
- Plus I liked Jennifer Ehle better than I thought I would! I thought she would be too sappy; she was not too sappy. Check.
- You want to talk Colin Firth? OK, let’s talk Colin Firth. Sure, he’s tall and cute, but he’s wooden. (Ha ha, get your minds out of the ha-ha, kids!) By which I mean he stares at Lizzie in a frankly creepy way for 3/4 of the movie. I’m spoiled by already having seen him in A Single Man and The King’s Speech, and I say he could tear the part up now 10 times better than he did it then. (Apart from being too old, and what do we think of Helena Bonham-Carter as Lizzie? . . . OK, back to 1995.)
- Let’s talk more Colin Firth! Why do we call it “the Colin Firth version?” Is fans’ love of this version simply based on the Firthy Goodness (thank you, Miss Osborne)? Is it because we’re not sure how to say “Ehle”? (AY-lee, I think.) I’m curious. Because she is after all the star, though this version does try to bring him closer to stardom than Jane put him, by showing us his Inner Feelings, and his butt, and his famous wet shirt. Thoughts?
- Jane Bennet is all wrong. No one thinks she’s prettier than Lizzie. (And she has a thick neck.)
- It was kind of amusing at first, but it grated on me more and more that all the supporting characters were seriously exaggerated from the book. Any complexity in them was left out, and they were all completely one-dimensional. It makes them more fun to laugh at and all, but it does hurt the story. I mean, who would really believe Miss Bingley was their friend? She’s totally scary! And Mrs. Bennet always shrieking flattens the drama and believability of her crazy mood swings. Etc.
So, as I said, some mixed feelings. However, at least I now know what all you crazy kids mean when you say “No one wants your concertos here!” and “Lord, I’m so fat!” And that is a comfort.
Come one, come all, to the Jane Austen Fight Club, where the very best from Jane’s world and the very best from everywhere else match wits and fists for all to see! The prizes: pride, honor, and the adoration of Jane fans everywhere, or a “The first rule of fight club is, we don’t talk about Mr. Darcy” t-shirt and possibly some Regency-era medical care for all your combat-induced wound-care needs!
Fitzwilliam “King of Hearts” Darcy, kind-hearted curmudgeon and romantic hero extraordinaire, and “Actual” King George VI, recovering stammerer and…well, king! One rules the Austen-industrial complex and the other just rules, and today, only one will walk away with his face and his reputation intact!
In their corners:
Mr. Darcy is loyal, devoted, and puts his money where his mouth is. He’s romantic. He likes the low-maintenance type and recognizes the virtues of a pair of fine eyes and a dirty hem. He’s nice to his baby sister and takes care of his goofy best friend, for better or worse, and he keeps a sweet bachelor pad. And let’s not forget the way he takes those afternoon swims!
George VI is, um, an actual crown-wearing, scepter-carrying monarch? He takes care of royal business, including a little kerfuffle called World War II, when his weenie brother gives up the throne for a girl. He’s a looker and he gets to wear those fancy military outfits, being both Commander-in-Chief and an actual Great War sailor. And he might finally get Colin Firth that Oscar, which surely nets him a point or two?
Darcy, while handsome and devoted, can be—how do we put this?—a bit…awkward. With some people. Like, maybe all of them? He doesn’t keep his voice down when he’s saying something rude; he doesn’t dance at parties when he knows there are ladies without partners; he makes proposals that sound an awful lot like “I must be a moron, but let’s get married!” Charming.
George—don’t suppose they’d let us call him Bertie—is, it turns out, kind of a mess. There’s the speech issue, of course, but then also an entire early life of being picked last for probably everything (knee braces, forced right-handedness, chronic stomach problems, and a reputation for being “easily frightened and prone to tears”), plus major moves towards the dissolution of the British Empire under his reign. Whoops?
Darcy. He may not be literally royal, but he reigns in our hearts…and he doesn’t come with an awesome wife played by a surprisingly normal Helena Bonham Carter. I think that means a lot to all of us.
When I look back on my younger years—O ye olde era of the Apple IIE!—I think how nice it is that we have the internet now. Responsible grown-up things like online bill pay aside, where would we be without netspeaking cats and inane music videos? What kind of cool-stuff threshold did we even have before Tumblr and BoingBoing and whole weird osmosis of the collective digital consciousness? Seriously, people. I think we had to play outside. And do work! It’s amazing we all turned out as well as we did.
Friends, the future is now, as seen in these cool Janely things we’ve picked up around the Web. Enjoy!
The Fug Girls, exemplars of all that is great and good on the internet, take on the Darcys (Mr. and Mark), as well as one impressively plaid dress.
Mansfield Park makes it into the Guardian‘s listing of 10 of the Best Balls in Literature. So to speak.
Now that our Southern California bureau is up and functional, we’ll expect our invitation to this aaaany day now. No, really. We’ll wait.
You tell ‘em, Vic: on the same old, same old of lady-fiction bashing. If ONLY romances were as diverse and innovative as the stories men tell themselves! Sigh.
And finally, for the conscientious early-bird holiday shoppers among us (surely nobody around here, but we hear this is a thing), Jane Austen stuff for dudes. For the skateboarding Jane aficionado who has everything!