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MikeAlx

Jane Austen

Here's an interesting article from the Sunday Times 'Culture' section about the historical development of Jane Austen appreciation (and detraction!).

http://entertainment.timesonline....ks/non-fiction/article5939034.ece

I'm afraid Mark Twain's comment about Austen made me chuckle:
Quote:

“It seems a great pity to me that they allowed her to die a natural death.”
Ann

I saw that article too, Mike. I found some of the points quite perceptive and it articulated some of the things I admire about her writing.
TheRejectAmidHair

Even in Austen’s own time, she had her admirers. The first editions of her novels all sold well, and Walter Scott, the most renowned novelist of the age, declared himself a fan.

Those (like myself) who don’t respond to Austen often find themselves feeling very frustrated. For we recognise the deep love, and, indeed, veneration, in which Austen is held by her admirers; and we recognise also that many of these admirers are people of great taste and discernment in literary matters. So we are aware that there is something wonderful there that we are missing. And this awareness serves but to increase our frustration, and, like Joseph Conrad, we can’t help asking ourselves over and over again, “what is it about her work that gives rise to such devotion?” I can recognise this feeling in myself. I know there’s no point in going over works again & again that I am by temperament not equipped to take in, but that question keeps nagging away all the same. And it’s made no better when certain friends ask disbelievingly: “How can you not like Austen?”

But it’s good to see I’m not the only one. When Nabokov put together his Lectures on Literature, he only included Mansfield Park because his friend, the eminent critic Edmund Wilson, had rated Austen alongside Dickens as the greatest of all British novelists. After a very guarded essay, Nabokov admits rather disarmingly that he had “tried to be fair”. Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad, Vladimir Nabokov … whatever it is I’m missing, I am, at least, in good company!
Sandraseahorse

Seeing as how Jane Austen died slowly and painfully at the age of only 41 from what is believed to be Hodgkinsons' lymphoma, I don't find Mark Twain's comment amusing.  

But then I've always found Mark Twain over-rated.
Evie

Joseph Conrad????  Flippin' McHenry.  How such a terminally boring writer has the effrontery to question why someone might love the luminous works of Jane Austen is beyond me...blimey.  He would have done better to keep that opinion to himself.

Sorry, I know you admire Conrad, Himadri, but I find his prose duller than...well, than a very dull thing, and have never made it even half way through any of his books, simply because the actual prose is so unreadable., and his writing seems earnest to the point of pompous. Jane's prose - whatever other qualities she has, and she has many - sparkles like a rippling lake on a sunny day, and anyone who can write prose as well as that deserves a bit more tolerance from a fellow author, whatever he thinks of her in general.
MikeAlx

I think it's interesting how Austen polarises opinion so much, particularly amongst other writers - and how it appears to have long been the case. She was clearly a technical innovator, even an 'experimental' writer for her time, but I don't think that's what her critics objected to. Was it perhaps the narrow focus of her stories, on issues that might once have been sneerily dismissed as "women's concerns"? Or her provincial milieu? Or is it her humour which is divisive? (I think I've mentioned before that I found much of the humour in 'Persuasion' to be rather obvious and crude). Apparently Charlotte Bronte found her 'lacking in poetry' (a Romantic versus Classical conflict?).

Evie, I've only read 'Heart of Darkness' but I didn't have a problem with Conrad's prose at all; I thought it was rather good (though I did find the contrivance that the entire novella was being narrated by Marlowe to his shipmates - some hundred pages without ever being interrupted! - rather implausible).

As to Twain's joke, well it could hardly have been in worse taste however Austen died, could it? It's precisely the excessiveness and cruelty that makes it funny, considering Jane's only crime was to write a few books that Twain didn't much warm to.
Freyda

I do wish commercial fiction writers (usually American) would stop hi-jacking Jane Austen, and publishing pot boilers with twee covers on a Jane Austen theme. I saw another one today - something about a Jane Austen Project. She has been made into some hideous sort of chick-lit poster girl. I think it stems from the popularity of the films and TV productions, which are fine, and the new prissy pink re-packaging of her novels. What next? Pride & Prejudice Barbie? With parasol, specs, and a notebook and quill? And those high-heeled feet, of course. No wonder women fall over and twist their ankles when running downhill in a rainstorm! What should we expect?  Wink
TheRejectAmidHair

Freyda wrote:
What next? Pride & Prejudice Barbie? With parasol, specs, and a notebook and quill?


I'd guess it's probably already been done. Satire can't keep up with reality!  Very Happy
Castorboy

TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
Freyda wrote:
What next? Pride & Prejudice Barbie? With parasol, specs, and a notebook and quill?


I'd guess it's probably already been done. Satire can't keep up with reality!  Very Happy

I heard on a BBC programme that next year some American is bringing out Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - I kid you not Exclamation
TheRejectAmidHair

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? That sounds brilliant! I'll be watching it! Very Happy
Ann

TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? That sounds brilliant! I'll be watching it! Very Happy


I read a review of that in the paper! Very Happy  Apparantly it is the same story but all the characters have to regularly fight zombies too. Pride and Prejudice is brought in by whether, like Darcy, one has learnt zombie fighting technique in the superior Japan, or whether, like Elizabeth, only in the rather common  China. I shall look forward to your review, Himadri.  Confused
Green Jay

Yes, this does sound like a typical Himadri book.

I heard an enthusiastic response to this book on the radio a few weeks back when we were driving through the blissful West Sussex downland countryside. Will have to think when this was...Easter week? Apparently the book was zipping up the bestseller charts, in the US anyway. How come? Jane Austen plus zombies is not a combo I can relate to, even though I did quite laugh at Shaun of the Dead.

NB I thought it was a book, but maybe, from the comment above, it's a film. l'm I'm even more confused...Confused
Castorboy

Green Jay wrote:

NB I thought it was a book, but maybe, from the comment above, it's a film. l'm I'm even more confused...Confused

The BBC programme I heard was about books and I was sure someone said it was coming out next year. However if the book is already published in the States then I must have misheard and that it was a film version that was to be made next year.
Castorboy

The author of the book Seth Graham-Smith, a screenwriter in Los Angeles, has just been interviewed on our National Radio programme Nine to Noon.
I came in half way through but I did hear him say that the majority of Jane Austenites were in favour of the book because anything that encouraged the reading of Austen’s work was all right with them.
As for the film rights they have been sold - however no date has been set for production.
The interview is on http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon for Wednesday May 13th.
MikeAlx

I was listening to an interview with SF writer John Kessel the other week; he was saying that some 10 years back he pitched an idea for a novel involving Dr Frankenstein, various Jane Austen characters and HG Wells' time traveller, but nobody thought there was a market for it. He didn't seem too impressed that someone else had succeeded with the zombie idea - he plainly thought it was daft, though admitted it might be fun.
MikeAlx

I must add, personally I have never understood the appeal of zombies - they must be the stupidest invention in all the horror genre! I think the only zombie movie I've enjoyed was the spoof Shaun of the Dead.
TheRejectAmidHair

What - you mean you've never seen the Hammer film The Plague of the Zombies? You haven't lived!
storrrm

MikeAlx wrote:
I must add, personally I have never understood the appeal of zombies - they must be the stupidest invention in all the horror genre! I think the only zombie movie I've enjoyed was the spoof Shaun of the Dead.


By contrast I LOVE zombies and think they're the best invention in the horror genre. They eat brains! That fact alone puts them top!  Very Happy
MikeAlx

I believe there has been something of a trend for high-speed zombies recently, but your classic zombie is a painfully slow lumberer. I'm afraid slow lumbering only scares me if accompanied by firearms (in the manner of Yul Brynner in Westworld, or the Autons from Doctor Who). Slow-lumbering monsters with no action-at-a-distance weapons simply make me think: "Well, I could just run away from them, couldn't I?"

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