Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lost In Austen

Tonight Lost In Austen was replayed on Ovation Network.It made me wonder "Do we get lost in Austen or does Austen get lost on us?

We have paired Austen with vampires and zombies. Written sequels to Pride and PRejudce that are saccharine sweet, sultry, or just plain ridiculous (Darcy and Bingley getting it on? Lizzie in love with Charlotte?) We created a romance between Jane and Tom LeFroy because we wanted the woman who wrote great romances to have a great romance herself. But have we lost sight of the real Austen?

I once heard an English professor claim Gatsby from Fitzgerald's classic was gay because he wore a pink suit. I've always hated it when people push 21st century ideas and ideals onto people and books that were of another time. I think we might be doing this to my Regency counterpart and I'll admit that I might be part of the problem.

JA worship runs high, fast and strong, which is part of the problem. People like me not only blog about JA we buy books that relate to her and since have made JA a cash cow. So publishers will print any sort of muckity muck because it will inevitably sell.

Part of this means that we don't read JA anymore. Not the original. Instead we read her with ultraviolent zombie action or read about her characters who have actually lost a bit of themselves. Joan Aiken writes that Lizzie once knew Charlotte in the book Lady Catherine's Necklace. She suggests that they were mere acquaintances and not the close friends that JA had made them in her original book. Another author said Darcy would never friend anyone who was in trade or even slightly removed. Well JA hints that Bingley's wealth comes from trade.

So I think Austen has been lost on us. I think we watch the movies instead of read the books and while I thoroughly enjoy some of the movies it's a shame because Austen was a great writer. She created characters one loves and while there was drama in her novels it is not like the drama people create now. Drama is not rape and murder. It's your sister ruining your family name by eloping. It's the loss of a father and as such the loss of a promised life (entails etc). It is losing the love of your life because he's secretly engaged. In today's standard not drama at all. That's what I love best about JA. They're stories about people....real people and not this jacked up idea of drama and fiction we have today.

So while I wish the world truly was lost in Austen, I fear Austen has been lost on us.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Jane Austen as Eminem

I just read this great article about JA fan fiction in Salon:

And this is my response:
I have read the Jane Austen fan fiction or at least 150 of them. Recently I spent a week trying to discover all the fan fiction that was out there and came up with a list of about 254 books although I'm sure it's not a complete list. Some of the sequels, revisionisms or updates I like. (I'll admit to liking the updates the best especially Melissa Nathan's). I do wonder about the revisionisms. In almost all of them Darcy and Elizabeth still end up together. So why bother to rewrite it in the first place? I have a blog where I pretend to be Austen and write about how she would feel about the fan fiction and sometimes it's a little more about me. (Vain I will admit, but it was an assignment for grad school while getting an MLIS). The updates don't bother me as much because people take Austen's plot and update it, but they at least have to add some new items. I'll admit that I am doing an update of Northanger Abbey, but it's just for kicks. I am a JA fan and one thing I have to admit is I'm tired of the hooplah and people reading the fan fiction and not reading the original JA. Now JA has just become a cash cow and that makes me sad.

Perhaps by writing this blog I am adding to the hooplah. I don't pretend that I am as witting or talented as JA, but I do like her and her books mean a lot to me. So this is my tribute sad or wonderful as it may be.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Burning Secrets

So I now know why my Regency counterpart asked her sister to burn her letters and I can understand why Cassandra did it. I will admit that I have been going through what one may call personal turmoil, but it has made me realize that there are memories and people that one would like to forget and not want anyone else to know about....especially in the area of someone we once loved. Although I can't help but wonder did Jane have some idea that she would become famous? Or did she not want other people in her family circle to know her secrets. I cannot burn or have my sister burn my letters. I can however throw away pictures, gifts, cards and mementos. Although it might actually be more fulfilling to burn them. I could be like Hedda Gabler.....burn little baby, burn. Okay perhaps that's a little drastic and a little scary. But I understand my Regency counterpart better.