Beloved Sisters, I do not have a Tumblr. I think about getting one all the time. I mean, let’s review: this is a free platform almost entirely for the enjoyment of an endless string of enthralling and amusing images (and, okay, occasional text), curated more or less for one’s own tastes and interests. What could possibly go wrong? I certainly read a lot of other people’s Tumblrs, and it would be so nice to have them all in one place, like a normal person acquainted with the many conveniences of the Internet. (Before you so kindly comment: I am well aware of Google Reader and RSS feeds. I have a SYSTEM, OKAY?) (My system is called “Reading Things.” It is a very exacting system.) And yet: it’s just one more thing, one more place to exist on the Internet, and I never can quite click that little blue “Sign Up” button.
HOWEVER. Let us not allow my old-lady ambivalence to keep us from the riches of the World Wide Web! Let us venture out into the massive temporal sinkhole that is Ryan Gosling memes and animated .gifs!
In other words, let’s find ourselves some good Jane Austen Tumblrs and get to scrollin’. Here are a few gems:
The Other Austen, the Tumblr-iest of the lot
and, for all you Shuffle aficionados, the Jane Austen tag.
*Sorry, Mom; convention of the medium.
Readers, there is a magical corner of this here World Wide Web—a place where the true potential of the hive mind is unleashed upon the general public, and the free flow of information runs a course suspiciously close to that of the letter u as a pronoun. That indescribable corner is Yahoo! Answers, a place for homework avoiders and people who have no access to either a reference librarian or a sensitive, non-professional conversation partner. Add Jane’s name to the mix, and watch the magic happen: along with legitimate questions about the Austen canon and the appropriate age at which to approach it, the spectrum of awesome, revealing, and/or nonsensical questions can only be hinted at in a single blog post. We’ve picked out a few of our favorites for your reading pleasure, and added responses of our own—and we apologize in advance if any of these are yours. We just like you so much, is all.
In the interest of—ahem—journalistic integrity, all question titles are reproduced as typed.
Well, for one, she’ll give you pretentious cooties with her meager writing style.
(You keep using that word! I do not think it means what you think it means.)
If you aren’t one of the X-Men, like the original responder, you’ll have to seek out some of that mid-evil literature for practice. Have standards: low-evil’s for weenies; high-evil’s too much. Trust us.
No. Question your sexuality immediately.
Probably not with each other, though college was a crazy time for many of us.
…Have you not heard about the alien hordes?
Try Occult or Home and Garden.
Well, what is fiction, really? What is truth? What is reality? Who am I? Who are you?
No, really. Who are you?
Probably because you called her materialistic and then wrote about her—by name—on the internet?
Oh, readers, we do tire of Austen mashups.
That is, we would tire of Austen mashups if we ever read any of them.
It all just seems so unnecessary, all this revamping of the land of Austen in the name of murder and mayhem. But what if the mashup in question were, by definition, un-horrific? What if there were no zombies, no sea monsters, no vampires, and no modern-day single ladies looking for a man? What if it were, in fact, a mashup with adorableness? In that spirit, the fine folks over at Who’s Your Dachsund have graced us all with their fine video The Complete Jane Austen, featuring the usual Jane canon acted out by—you guessed it—baby lemurs!
Kidding. They’re Dachsunds.
(This is not to say that we would not enjoy baby lemurs in our Austen. “Oh, Mr. Wickham! How charming you are!”)
I’m especially fond of Captain Wentwoof, heartfelt letter-writter that he is. Such a charmer, that one. I bet he and his lady love enjoy long walk(ie)s on the beach at the end. How sweet!
…Somebody, please make this stop. I’m going to be thinking of Austenian wiener-dog jokes all day.
Come one, come all, to the Jane Austen Fight Club, where the very best from Jane’s world and the very best from the non-Austen world (sometimes) 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 some quality Regency-era medical care for all your combat-induced wound-care needs!
Captain Frederick “I’m on a boat” Wentworth, naval hero and longtime piner after one Anne Elliot, and Mr. George “Yes, I am awesome, why do you ask?” Knightley! Both do right by their respective lady loves; both live somewhat in the shadow of Fitzwilliam Darcy; only one will walk away from this match with his face and his reputation intact!
In their corners:
Captain Wentworth is, well, on a boat. Actually, he’s in charge of the boat. He probably has a sword, possibly a gun, and for all we know, he’s thick as thieves with some tentacled beast/kraken/JAWS that he calls up from the deep in moments of stress. He’s also fiercely loyal, extraordinarily patient, and—we have it on good authority—the kind of guy who turns heads but doesn’t really own a mirror, if you know what we mean. Basically, he’s a kindly, romantic pirate. Best of all possible worlds!
Mr. Knightley likes moonlit strolls on warm evenings, doesn’t mind going out of his way to see his lady love, and has a fine air and—ahem—way of walking. He’s honest, affectionate, and filled with integrity, and he handles his slightly overbearing future father-in-law without breaking a sweat. He’s the kind of guy you’d want on your arm at all those neighborhood balls, for sure.
Wentworth is, well, actually sort of a pirate. A legalized pirate, but a pirate. And if the Jack Sparrow lifestyle doesn’t read as a deterrent, exactly, try this: he was too proud to come back to Anne well beyond the Charlotte York “half as long as the relationship” rule, and then he “admitted the attentions of two young ladies at once”! Just imagine!
Knightley is rather disposed to being right. Constantly, obnoxiously right. Sigh.
Captain Wentworth in a close but ultimately not-that-close competition. Knightley’s a contender, but seriously? VIRTUOUS PIRATE! Adventurer/keeper of flame wins every time! Nice try, George. Why don’t you, like, go take a walk or something?
How do the Austenacious sisters torment each other? Let me count the ways . . . No, just look at Miss Ball’s contribution below. That says it all! The sadists among you can then go to the Lol Builder to make your own funny pictures. Meanwhile, I shall be thinking of a comeuppance for Miss Ball!
INT. LIVING ROOM – NIGHT
We open on a television set. The screen is black.
An eerie chord sounds and splinters; text appears.
EXT. REGENCY HOME – DAY
When we return, gone is the island! Instead, OUR HEROES materialize, bedraggled and apparently out of thin air, on the grounds of a grand Regency estate. CHARLES WIDMORE looks on from a nearby window, twirling his nonexistent mustache.
You’re gonna love it. LOST: The Regency Season! What a way to go, right?
We zero in on the action.
You fell down a hill and twisted your ankle? I’ll save you! Don’t you love me? Fine. I’ll be off crying in the forest if you need me TO AMPUTATE YOUR LEG.
JAMES “SAWYER” FORD
I challenge you to a duel, Mr. Shephard! I say, have I misplaced my shirt again?
KATE (ahem) AUSTEN
I love you, Mr. Shephard! No. I love you, Mr. Ford! No, I love you, Mr. Shephard! No, I love you, Mr. Ford! No, I love you, Mr. Shephard! What? You want your gun(s) back? La la la I can’t hear you! What?
Tell me where Wickham and Lydia went, or I’ll kill you with my thighs!
That Churchill fellow cultivates an admirable air of mystery. Care for some backgammon, shooting, and/or pseudo-religious posturing? Don’t tell me what I can’t do!
I can kill every single one of these ladies with my brain.
Gypsies warned me not to send my baby away, but what do they know?
These ladies are tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me…away from mah Penneh. PENNEH!
This time-travel nonsense is no match for the majesty of Rosings Park!
Memo, Anne Elliott: Don’t let your man go off to sea. The only thing worse than years of crushing loneliness is having to rescue him from a lifeboat in the South Pacific ten years later. Ask me how I know!
Dude, where’s the Dharma cold meats platter?
We close on the castaways burning a bonfire as the sun sets. They’re alone. OR ARE THEY? Mr. Collins skulks around the shadows, unbeknownst to all.
I’m writing today from the South, the land of delights from mustard-based barbecue sauce (!) to the world capital of mini-golf to sixty-degree (F) weather the week before Christmas, among others. My arc through this portion of the States, along with nine-hour days of driving, is full of meditations on the richness of Southern language and literature—particularly, today, the words of a fine craftsman from another time. Say, the 90s. The 1990s (around here, best to clarify). By this, I mean—wait for it—the “You might be a redneck” joke, popularized by the word wizard Jeff Foxworthy.
I don’t actually know much about ways in which I might be or become a redneck,—I’m not sure whether this makes me more likely or less likely to unwittingly be one—but I do know a fair amount about ways in which I might be or become a character in Jane Austen novel. To wit:
If your strategy for husband-hunting in your own family includes the tenet “the closer, the better,”….you might be in a Jane Austen novel.
If flannel says, to you, neither “I cut down trees for a living” nor “I live in Seattle in 1993,” but rather “I am forty going on Dick Clark,”…you might be in a Jane Austen novel.
If you love a man with good taste in hat-ribbons…you might be in a Jane Austen novel.
If you’re destined to find that your charming new man-friend is actually an enormous cad and may or may not have debauched the honor of several young ladies previously…you might be in a Jane Austen novel.
If your best friend is your sister, and your sister is your best friend…you might be in a Jane Austen novel.
If you use your own respiratory distress as revenge on others’ sanity…you might be in a Jane Austen novel.
What do you think, readers? For future reference (and in case of some serious Thursday Next-stye hijinks), how might you know you’re in a Jane Austen novel?
(I’ll find a new comedian when I get to Texas, promise. That’s, like, two days of highway. I just need time to think.)
Come one, come all, to the Jane Austen Fight Club, where the very best from Jane’s world and the very best from…well, everywhere else…duke it out for all to see! The prizes: pride, honor, and the adoration of Jane fans everywhere, or a “Mr. Darcy Fights Like a Girl” t-shirt and some quality Regency-era medical care!
Today’s contestants: John “Yes, I Really Am This Much of a Tool” Willoughby, dashing and dastardly bad boy from Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, and Edward “Sparklepuss” Cullen, Twilight teen heartthrob/kindly vampire/stalker. They’re handsome! They’re flattering! They like teenaged girls lacking in common sense! Whose sensitive yet lustful stare will prevail? Only time and raging hormones will tell!
In their corners:
John Willoughby is handsome and lively and beloved by young girls and income-scouting mothers alike. He gives horses as gifts; he cheats at cards, but only for his girl; he rescues young ladies from tumbles down hills, and doesn’t track mud all over the house when he’s done. Salient quotation: “It’s okay; I’ve never done this before, either…”
Edward Cullen is a sparkly vampire, the blood-sucking monster of the Lisa Frank universe. He’s prone to rescuing fair damsels (from werewolves, so suck it, Mr. “Let me save you from the rain and your weak joints“). He likes baseball, though he only ever wants to play when it’s a rain-out. He has never, as far as we know, had an affair with or a child by a fifteen-year-old (…he waits until they’re eighteen. AT LEAST!). Salient quotation: “You take a nap. I’ll just sit here and listen to the Police and, you know, keep an eye on you.”
Willoughby is…how do we put this? Oh: a skeevy, on-leading, non-responsibility-taking, child-abandoning bastard. Is that a problem?
Edward has the ability, with an unfortunate slip of the mouth, to turn the lady in question into an immortal (yet undeniably sexy, because really, she’d better be, after all this) creature destined to suck the blood of living organisms for all eternity. Apparently.
Edward, obviously. He’s a vampire. Does Willoughby carry Marianne Dashwood home with his super strength? Does he sparkle in the sun during long, romantic walks on the downs? Does he eventually raise up an army of like-minded bad guys and father a half-vampire baby named after his and Marianne’s dead mothers?
I didn’t think so.
He may be a) ridiculous and b) a stalker, but c) your argument is invalid.
Knockout for Mr. Cullen! Ding ding ding ding ding!
If we in the twenty-first century have learned nothing else from Jane’s works, I like to think we’ve picked up a few things about the silent connection between a man and a woman—namely, that the wink wink nudge nudge telepathy route never, ever works. Romance by osmosis sounds good, sure, but the pitfalls (and the casualties) are many and varied: What? You think he likes you? You think he wants to marry you? Too bad you accidentally scratched your nose at the wrong moment, and now he’s scamming on your rich-but-dumb-as-a-brick cousin. Off to the poorhouse with you and your male-heir-less family!
If only the denizens of Austenland could learn a few communication skills—say, a few well-known (if nonsensical and/or blatantly sexist) phrases to start the conversation and get everybody on the same page. Not enough to betray real emotion or actual devotion, of course—what kind of sap do you take me for?—but enough to signal clearly the moment when a young man’s fancy turns to love (or at least an appreciation of those surprisingly low-cut gowns). What these people need is a healthy collection of pick-up lines.
“You must be tired—you’ve been doing laps around my brain all night in an attempt to show off your figure (but, you know, you can’t do that and appear secretive at the same time).”
“Did you clean your gown with silver polish? For I can see myself in your muslin.”
“Pardon me, miss. Do you enjoy balls?”
“Do you believe in love at first sight, or shall I rescue you from another thunderstorm?”
“Would you care to come back to my place and see all the furnishings so graciously provided by Lady Catherine de Bourgh?”
“I’m sorry, but I seem to have misplaced the calling card I send before arriving at friends’ homes for unannounced social visits. May I borrow yours?”
“I may be a retired sea captain, but you should see my telescope!”
“I haven’t seduced any very young women, refused to marry them, and left them disgraced and penniless.”
And the all-time most successful (or is this just us?) pick-up line in all of Austenland:
“Hello, I’m Mr. Darcy.”
What do you think, readers? Hit us with your best (and by “best” I mean “worst”) shots!