Today, Twitterer (Twit? Tweeter? Tweetmeister?) @davidshayne spoke my soul. To the entire internet!
“I never hate humanity — or myself — more than when I read the comments section on any blog.”
People, this is true. Years of wading through freewheeling grammar and usage, heart-stopping displays of cluelessness, and predictable passive aggression have all taught me that the comments section of any blog but my own—because you, dear readers, are perfect and gentle and know that “u” is not a pronoun*—is no place for this sensitive soul.**
But sometimes, this is also false. We at Austenacious spend a lot of time trawling the Internet for cool, unusual Austen-related content, and you can take it from us that Austen fans are an outspoken bunch. Are you, members of the global community, hating on Jane? Are you explaining, in your infinite wisdom and yet with little insight, why ladies like her books? Are you implying that Jane, being both dead and a girl who writes about girly things, shouldn’t be taught in schools? Don’t think we don’t notice. We notice. In fact, we will BURY YOU—often not with an avalanche of rage and misplaced modifiers, but a persistently paced stream of well-intentioned informational talking points (punctuated by the occasional, justified burst of emotion). If you’re wrong and we’re right—because we must be right, right?—there will be no justice until you’ve been informed of the magnitude of your wrongness and the many ways in which you might rectify the situation. And there’s something both hilariously obnoxious and really wonderful about that, in the sense that the correcting is enormously repetitive but also extremely eager and sometimes accompanied by some dose of truth and/or humor (note: often unintentional). We Jane fans speak up for ourselves, and we speak up for Jane. We bring things up. We share the knowledge, whether the knowledge wants to be shared or not. Because if there’s anybody who must have liked being right, it was probably Jane.
And if we get to call somebody or something “stunningly stupid,” well, bonus points.
*Readers: Consider this your encouragement to prove me wrong. Hit us with your best shots!
**Not true. I sometimes read the comments on Smitten Kitchen, because they are informative and include answers to questions like “So, what will happen if I make this recipe with a completely different set of ingredients?”, and I find that entertaining.
Hunh. So the upcoming movie From Prada to Nada is being billed as a “modern twist on Sense and Sensibility.” To quote The Wall Street Journal, it “centers on two spoiled Beverly Hills rich girls (Camilla Belle and Alexa Vega) who are forced to move in with poor relatives in East L.A. following their father’s death. Do the girls learn to embrace their Hispanic heritage? Of course they do.” See the preview below.
I think The Wall Street Journal is a perfectly appropriate venue to talk about Sense and Sensibility. They’re both so much about money, of course. But let’s go over a few problems here, shall we?
A) Do we think Elinor and Marianne are spoiled before their father dies? (Answer: It never even occurred to me.)
B) Do we think they “learn to embrace” the values of the poor relations they now associate with? (Answer: Ha! As if! Leaving aside the quibble that the relations aren’t poor, their values differ mainly by being less refined than the Dashwoods’. And we know what Jane thinks about that. In fact, I learned from Sense and Sensibility that you can and should maintain your standards even if those around you have lower ones, while at the same time being nice to them, because hey, it pays off.)
But that rich people are spoiled and stupid, and poor people are maybe a bit rough around the edges but fundamentally more real, no, Sense and Sensibility does not go there. Even in Jane Austen’s more class-conscious books, like Emma and Pride and Prejudice, there are real rich people and spoiled rich people, real poor(er) people and silly poor(er) people. It’s hard to tell from the preview, but I hope From Prada to Nada keeps at least that much shading, and even more, that it possibly, just possibly, gets into differing expectations of love and romance. I hope they manage to get anywhere near as close as the new xkcd to showing us Marianne and Willoughby’s relationship. If so, it might be a worthwhile adaptation. You see, I’m keeping an open mind!
Today we are giving props to a sister under the skin, namely, Kate Beaton of Hark! A Vagrant. It makes us wish we could draw, it really does.
Lest we think Jane alone inspires Ms. Beaton, check out “Dude Watchin’ with the Brontës”.
You know, speaking as someone with $0.02-worth of knowledge about comics, I think the web has been a great thing for literary and nerdy comics. Would you have seen XKCD in the Sunday funnies? No, because it has math in it, and yet it is the most widely quoted comic among people I know. And as for Wondermark? Not even a chance. The way Wondermark pairs antique and modern is far too weird for The Normal Person, though, come to think of it, he’s probably a brother under our skin (ew). Even if he is kind of steampunk and we’re . . . not? But we do love to relate Austen to the earth-shattering concerns of our day!
Would Jane Austen herself have used comics? (Did she, O scholars of juvenilia?) She could pop off some awesome one-liners, and that makes it easy to connect her with the understated elegance of The New Yorker cartoons or the devilry of Charles Addams. (Was Jane the soul-sister of Wednesday Addams? Discuss.) But in end her forte was the subtle precision of words, lots and lots of words. I think she would have found the text-lite format of even the graphic novel to be a trial. Witness the weakness of Pride and Prejudice tweets compared to the original.