Posts Tagged ‘jane austen’
I don’t have very many reading rules, but one rule that I have set for myself and that I have managed to observe for the past 3 – 4 years (read: ever since I made it up), is that I only ever read one Jane Austen book a year. Austen is one of my favorite authors, so it would be really easy for me to just read and review her over and over again, but that might get tiring for you guys, so instead, as a means of maintaining balance, I instead limit myself to one book by her each year. Admittedly, this rule also partially stems from my deep-seated fear of running out of Jane Austen novels, and is my attempt to ration them. The thought of living in a world where I have no new Jane Austen to discover chills me to the marrow of my bones. I do realize that since Jane Austen only published six full-length novels that this reading plan would only preserve me from my greatest fear for six years, BUT you’ll note that my rule says nothing about reading a new Jane Austen novel each year, so if I wanted to read P&P for the next decade, that’s totally kosher.
As it is, since establishing my One Austen Per Annum rule, I have actually only revisited works of hers that I’ve already read. I still have Mansfield Park and Persuasion on the TBR pile, and even though I always claim that this will be the year that I finally try one of them, it never seems to work out that way. When Nicola over at Vintage Reads pointed out earlier this year that this was the 200th anniversary of Sense & Sensibility, that pretty much sealed the deal regarding which Austen I’d be cozying up to in 2011!
My desire to do so was heightened after popping the Oscar award-winning film featuring Emma Thompson into the DVD player a few months back. In retrospect I think that perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to follow up the film with the original source material, simply because Emma Thompson’s adaptation is just SO good, and I couldn’t help but compare and contrast the two and I have to say, Austen’s version didn’t always come out on top. [Also, everything from here on out presupposes that you have more than a passing familiarity with the plot of S&S. Spoilers and in depth discussion ahoy!]
Here is a new feature we are thinking of including regularly on our site: a short(ish) podcast in which Tony and I recap the movies we watched during the past week.
What are you in for? Well, we cover the following four movies:
- Hear us bicker… about several things, but mostly about whether “Jim from The Office” is really called James Krasinski
- We insult Twilight… again
- Is Henry Tilney gay? Find out our final take!
- We outline one of the major pitfalls screenwriters grapple with when penning prequels
- Finally hear our crazy accents!
Click the play button below and take a listen and let us know what you think! If people enjoy this, we’re open to doing it again… Is that a threat or a promise? Only you can say!
[NB: When we talk about Northanger Abbey being a 1986 production… well, Steph should have checked IMDB and not trusted Tony, because this was NOT an ’80s production, but rather one from 2007…]
I have a confession to make: I love Jane Austen. Ok, ok, that is no surprise to anyone who has read at least three posts (probably even the cooking ones) here at S&TI! or engaged me in about 5 minutes of conversation, but it’s such a fundamental part of who I am that I think it bears repeating. Truth be told, however, that wasn’t my confession. My real confession is this: I love Jane Austen, but I have always secretly felt that Northanger Abbey was one of her lesser works. The thing is though, I’m human so, rare though it is, I do occasionally make mistakes. Consider this prior notion of mine to be one such error.
I first read Northanger Abbey during the summer of 2005 when my friend Laura and I were backpacking around Europe and the UK. I can’t remember where I got the copy I read, only I know I didn’t bring it with me, so I must have found it at one of the hostels we stayed at and took it along for a train ride or two. Prior to reading the book (or perhaps concurrently), Laura and I visited the Jane Austen costume exhibit that was going on in Bath and part of the exhibit involved a quote from Mr. Tilney about muslin and various other fabrics and dressmaking which caused Laura and I to turn simultaneously to one another and mouth the word “GAY!” before collapsing into a fit of giggles. True story. So anyway, while I read the book and knew it was a spoof on the popular gothic novel of the time, I really walked away with the strong perception that Henry Tilney was a huge fop, hardly deserving of the title of Austen hero, and that was about it. There was nothing wrong with Northanger Abbey – it wasn’t a bad book – it just got catalogued in my mind as sort of a limp, less significant Austen novel.
While we were in New York City, I received an email from my awesome friend Laura (not that I have a non-awesome friend named Laura and I am trying to distinguish between the two… just that my friend Laura is awesome, that’s all!) keying me in to the fact that there was a Jane Austen exhibit taking place at the Morgan Library while I was in town. Normally I am a crazy trip planner when we go on vacation, obsessively researching every possible attraction and thing to do, but I admit, NYC overwhelmed me and I made the decision to go with the flow and just do whatever struck our fancy and figure out our options when we got into town… so I had not done my homework and the fact that there was something Austen-related going on in town that I didn’t know about me shook me to my core! I mean, what if we had gone all the way to New York and returned home only for me to have then discovered the exhibit existed? I shudder to even contemplate the possibility!
Anyway, once I realized there was an exhibit on, I told my friend that we were visiting in New York that we had to go. The day was gray and drizzly, but that did not stop us in our pursuit for Austen (even if we did walk many blocks out of our way to first go and lunch at Prêt à Manger, which is WAY better than Panera, by the way, so why can’t we have one in Nashville already? Oh right, because it’s Nashville… I’m always trying to forget that… The roast turkey sandwich with stuffing and orange-cranberry sauce was a game changer, is all I’m saying!). At other museums, I balked at the expensive admission prices — don’t get me wrong, the Metropolitan Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim are hella amazing, but $20 PER PERSON is just a tad pricey — at the Morgan library, I practically shoved my $8 into their hands before tearing off into the bowels of the building in search of Austen.
Since the weather has finally gotten consistently warm here in Nashville, I’ve been wanting to take advantage of the fact that our building has a pool and do some tanning and swimming. I’ve talked fleetingly of my search for appropriate “pool reads” (and I’ll probably be posting more about that in the future… so stay tuned), which it turns out is a pretty perilous proposition. You need a book that isn’t too dense, since lazing about in the sun can make the mind sluggish, but it’s important the book be engaging and not vapid, because otherwise there’s no incentive to read instead of getting into the pool. After a little bit of soul searching, I settled on Beginner’s Greek (Great Expectations by Charles Dickens doesn’t seem quite right for the summer, does it? Don’t all those moors evoke Autumn to you?), which turned out to be a great choice.
Billed as a modern-day Jane Austen novel (or chick lit written by a man), Beginner’s Greek revolves around Peter Russell who is a romantic at heart and is waiting to find his true love. He tells us that whenever he gets on a plane, he really believes that this will be the trip where he is seated next to a beautiful woman with whom he will fall hopelessly in love. Lo and behold, on a cross-country trip from New York to L.A. Peter finds himself across the aisle from Holly, a beautiful and charismatic young lady and it seems the two form a magnetic attachment. She gives him her number and tells him to call her while he’s in town, and he vows to do so… only to lose the paper on which her number is written and with no other way of tracking her down (you see, she never told him her last name). The rest of the novel then chronicles the ups and downs of Peter & Holly’s lives (as well as the people who orbit around them) as they try to make their way back to one another.
Some of you may have heard of Barbara Pym, but more likely than not, many of you probably haven’t. This would be in keeping with the fact that she was once named by two separate individuals on the Times Literary Supplement as the most underrated writer of the 20th century (this was back in 1977, when she was still alive and writing, though had spent many of those years in obscurity and incapable of getting her works published). Often called the Jane Austen of her day for her biting social criticism and wry humor, I felt it was about time for me to get familiar with Ms. Pym. After all, I’ve previously revealed that even a haphazard comparison to Austen is generally enough to pique my interest.