Charming Quotes from Jane Austen

Hello, my Regency-loving friends. Interesting, isn’t it, that the actual Regency last only from 1811-1820, but the periods before and after can also be considered part of the era?  When trying to explain to the uninitiated, what the Regency is, I’ll often bring up Jane Austen. I find that most, but not all, have heard of the book Pride and Prejudice and they can get a grasp on what kind of fiction genre I am writing.104_2304

So, to bring Jane Austen alive again, in our minds only, I bring you some of her delicious quotes.

What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.

A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

Based on these quotes alone, I do believe I would have enjoyed know Jane Austen.

Which author would you have liked to spend time with? Answer in the comments, please.

A Jane Austen Devotional

My husband and I were in a bookstore one day, where he was looking for a devotional. We were eyeing the shelves full of them in the Christian section when he spied a gem, A Jane Austen Devotional. “That’s the one,” he said. That’s why I love him, he’s an Austen devotee like me! Jane Austen devotional
This devotional compiled and written by Steffany Woolsey and published by Thomas Nelson is not divided by days but by subject matter. A listing includes: Being Generous, Christ’s Unconditional Love, Vanity’s Folly, Faithfulness, Unhealthy Friendships, etc..
Under each section, an excerpt from one of Jane Austen’s novels is included and then a commentary on the spiritual theme gleaned from her writing, since Jane Austen lived in a time when the Bible was the standard of moral authority in Great Britain. Any educated person such as Jane would be well-versed in Scripture, especially as the daughter of a rector in the Anglican church. Her writing reflects her Christian beliefs, even when she pokes fun at certain clergy (remember Mr. Collins?)
In A Jane Austen Devotional under the heading “Being Generous” for example, a segment from Sense and Sensibility is used in which Mr. Dashwood discusses with his wife how much he should give to his bereaved stepmother in order to fulfill his deathbed promise to his father to take care of her. Throughout their conversation he allows his wife to talk him out of giving her anything he originally had decided upon. The author uses this illustration of mean-spiritedness to contrast with Biblical teaching, citing Matthew 15:18 where Jesus talks about the things that defile a person—those that proceed from the heart. The teaching of Jesus regarding generosity is then shown using Mark 12:42-44 in which Jesus compares the poor widow who leaves two small copper coins in the offering box in the temple to a richer person who gives out of his abundance.

Jesus calls us to imitate the widow, who gave so generously out of her poverty. As Woolsey sums up in this segment, “When we choose this route, He [Christ] can begin to develop in us qualities such as generosity, kindness, and compassion.”

For anyone who appreciates Jane Austen’s irony and wit, this devotional is full of snippets of her scenes with a parallel from Scripture on each facing page. My husband and I have enjoyed every entry we’ve read.

 *  *  *

Ruth Axtell hasRuth Axtell (2) written several Regency romances. Her latest series is called London Encounters. Book 2, A Heart’s Rebellion, came out in March. The Rogue’s Redemption, set in both Regency London and frontier Maine, came out in December. She also writes novels set in Victorian England and late 19th century Maine.

The Long and Longer Versions of Pride and Prejudice and a Chance to Win

This week we’ve been looking at a few of the many film adaptations of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice. If you are in the mood to spend more than a couple of hours delving in to a cinematic version of this intricate story, I have two more versions for you to consider.

The 1995 Miniseries ~ About 5 Hours

Pride and Prejudice 1995Produced by the BBC in 1995, this adaptation had a great influence on my love for Jane Austen’s story. When I read Pride and Prejudice in high school, we watched the miniseries as we went, bringing life to characters I was already intrigued with. It also started a bit of a fascination with Colin Firth, but I’m not alone in that regard.

Of all the versions I’ve seen, this one stays closest to the actual book. The length alone allows them to go into considerably more detail than a regular length movie. They were able to include all of the characters, scenes, and conversations that other renditions had to leave out.

Colin Firth as DarcyOne of the strengths of this version is Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy. He doesn’t smile until the very last scene of the movie, but that doesn’t hinder the impression of his softening over the course of the movie.

Elizabeth says that she believes Darcy remains unchanged “in essentials”. I think that means he still maintains a severely proper demeanor and overall seriousness. Firth’s portrayal does that. At no point does he lose his composure or rigidity, yet you see him change just the same.

The Bennet SistersJennifer Ehle does a superb job of playing Elizabeth as well. Outwardly, she behaves in all the proper manners. She doesn’t throw off propriety as defined by her society, yet she still finds ways of displaying her displeasure with it through private conversations and pained facial expressions.

One drawback to this version is, of course, the length. You will have to set aside a solid afternoon to watch it if you intend to do it all in one sitting. Originally it aired as five hour-long episodes.

The rigidity and formality of it might make it hard for some people to immerse themselves fully into the movie as well. I also don’t know that Mr. Collins is portrayed correctly. Although I don’t know if any version truly gets Mr. Collins right.

But maybe that version isn’t for you. Maybe you love the story, but just can’t get into the ins and outs of a period piece. Then this next version may be for you…

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries ~ about 10 hours

You read that right. If you want to watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries in entirety, it will take you at least ten hours. It also just won an Emmy for Interactive Media.

Poster of Lizzie Bennet DiariesThe Lizzie Bennet Diaries, or The LBD for short, is a modern adaptation of Austen’s story. It aired over the course of a year on YouTube. Lizzie Bennet was a vlogger, meaning she made a video blog. At times, other characters also made videos as well. Each episode ranges in length from three to seven minutes, but that really adds up when you consider at least two videos a week for a year.

The strength of The LBD lies in their determination to stay true to the elements of the story. Today, women don’t have to marry to have a future. It wouldn’t make sense for Charlotte to run off and marry Mr. Collins when no feelings exist there. So the offer of marriage was converted into a job offer. The intent of Austen’s story remains – Charlotte compromising and taking the practical route in order to insure her future – while still being relevant and believable in a modern setting.

Girls of Lizzie Bennet DiariesThe way that The LBD was set up will give you a different perspective on Pride and Prejudice. Because the videos, at first, are filmed in Lizzie’s bedroom, we see a lot more interaction between the female characters. Darcy doesn’t make an on screen appearance until episode 61. I know that after watching it, I view Lydia, Charlotte, and even Mr. Collins in a different way. They do make a few character adjustments. Mary is a cousin and Kitty is actually a cat, but the story essence remains.

You can follow the full LBD story from the website including the multiple You Tube channels and Twitter conversations.

Do you like the longer film versions or prefer the shorter versions that have to leave a bit out but maintain a more traditional movie length?

Comment on any post this week for your chance to win a DVD copy of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries. Winner will be announced Monday, September 2 and must have a US posting address. 

Jane Austen Para-literature – Sequels, Retellings, and More by Susan Karsten

Researching this subject taught me a new term and concept: Jane Austen para-literature. Oh my. This is a huge topic. I am only able to skirt around it, since to cover this topic completely would take years. The incredible array of sequels and retellings of the Austen ouvre is astounding. I, dear reader am a veritable babe in the woods when it comes to such reading opportunities. I have read a few spin-offs, no sequels, and no retellings of Jane Austen’s novels.

Is there a name for the phenomenon of the fact that a movie is never/rarely anywhere near as good as the book? Extrapolating that thought further tells me there could never be a sequel book as good as the original Pride and Prejudice.

Creative or knowledgeable people: Please come up with a name for the above phenomenon. Mention it in the comments.

Inveterate Austen sequel/prequel readers: Have you read any great ones? If so, please leave the titles in the comments.

READ ON! Much good information coming your way in this post.

Please check out these websites for listings of sequels: http://www.pemberley.com/janeinfo/austseql.html

http://webdoc.sub.gwdg.de/edoc/ia/eese/breuer/biblio.html

{The second site lists them alphabetically, but also has a listing of them in chronological order, so you could skip down to the more recent ones.}

There’s also a list on Goodreads of the popular ones: http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/jane-austen-sequels

And another on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Jane-Austen-Sequels-Miscellany/lm/R1SHWQ7HPAS300

From the first link listed above, Ted Adams has a wonderful, comprehensive article slicing and dicing the terminology of Austen para-literature. I have used material from this article below. He said it so well.

“The adaptations, completions, sequels, pastiches and other attempts to tap into the Jane Austen industry … devolve from a most noble sentiment: We have read the six published novels and we want more. We want more and different insights into both the novels and into the type of person that Jane Austen was.

Adaptations are transformations into another medium, e.g., stage, screen and television.

Completions are the finishing off of a novel fragment. Jane Austen’s two fragments, The Watsons and Sanditon have been attempted a number of times.

Sequels are a continuation of the action. To my knowledge, nobody has written a “prequel”, which would be a description of what occurred before the action started.

Pastiches are work written in the style of Jane Austen. Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor is a pastiche. Its premise is that it is a notebook that Jane Austen kept concerning events during a period for which we do not have documentation.

Certainly no Jane Austen pastiche will ever be as good as the original, but that is to be expected. Mind you, when the standard is one of the best writers in the English language, to fall short of the mark is no disgrace. To write with wit, economy, great insight and develop complex and interesting characters is no mean feat. After all, we read Jane Austen with great pleasure 200 years later because she compares well not only with her contemporaries but also with ours and everybody who has come in between.

Personally, I enjoy pastiches for much the same reason that I sometimes enjoy Jane Austen criticism. Even when a pastiche fails or fall short, it can be interesting to try understand how or why it comes up short. And in the meantime, I’ve read a story that really has no requirement to be taken seriously.

The questions I would ask of a pastiche are the same that I ask of criticism: Is the work interesting/entertaining in its own right? How faithful it to spirit of Jane Austen’s novels? Does it provide insights into the work in question and/or the character of Jane Austen? ”

So, dear Austen-loving friends, I highly recommend reading the full text of the Ted Adams article — not the least for the titles of para-Austen books he considers excellent! Thanks for visiting Regency Reflections.

Remember to comment on the questions: What to call the phenomenon when the movie or sequel is never as good as the original AND Give the titles of any Austen para-literature books you’ve read that you think were pretty good.

Susan Karsten

The love of Regency romance lives on today. Comment on any post this week for a chance to win a book by one of Regency Reflections’ amazing published authors. The winner will be emailed the list of available books to choose from. The winner will be announced Monday, August 26th. Winner’s mailing address must be within the United States to win. 

The Living Legacy of Jane Austen and a Chance to Win

As an author, you never know when a certain book or series will connect with readers in a way that spreads like wildfire. Most authors dream of that breakout book that manages to reach the masses. Few even dare consider the thought that they might leave a legacy behind that would span centuries.

Jane Austen
Jane Austen

Jane Austen is such an author. With only a handful of completed novels which, at the time, were contemporary romances, Austen wouldn’t be an obvious choice to be impacting the world two hundred years after her most popular novel was published. Yet her works continue to inspire and captivate to this day.

Austen’s legacy can be seen in everything from research books to pop culture to national heritage.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Jane would grace the ten pound note, an extraordinary feat for an author, not to mention a woman. A 12-foot statue of Mr. Darcy was installed in the Serpentine, depicting the iconic “wet shirt” scene from the 1995 BBC adaptation.

There was even a UK Government injunction against the exportation of one of Jane’s rings, sold at auction to US singer Kelly Clarkson last year. In an effort to keep Austen artifacts in the country, they are trying to raise enough money to purchase the ring back from Clarkson.

Jane Austen Knits
A book of knitting pattern inspired by Jane Austen.

But it is not just Austen memorabilia that captivates people today. There are Jane Austen Societies all over the world. People continue to gather for discussion and immersion into Austen’s world. This obsession people have with Jane Austen and particularly Pride and Prejudice, can be seen in the new movie Austenland as well as the 2008 miniseries Lost in Austen (which also commemorates the memorable wet shirt scene in a moment I found so hilarious and unexpected I actually fell off the couch laughing).

People love Jane Austen and what she represents. The world created by her stories sparked the imagination of authors such as Georgette Heyer, who we looked at Monday, as well as, directly or indirectly, a slew of Regency-era authors today.

Even research books bear witness to Austen’s influence. One of my frequently accessed research books in entitled All Things Austen. Since her books were contemporary to the time period, many look to her novels to see how life might have happened and what things may or may not have occurred.

Many writers have used Austen as inspiration. Friday we look at the multitude of spin-offs and sequels written by fans of Jane Austen’s stories. People so caught up in the world she built that they couldn’t bear for those characters to end there.

Do you see impacts of Jane Austen today? What’s your favorite “Austen sighting”?

The love of Regency romance lives on today. Comment on any post this week for a chance to win a book by one of Regency Reflections’ amazing published authors. The winner will be emailed the list of available books to choose from. The winner will be announced Monday, August 26th. Winner’s mailing address must be within the United States to win. 

 

Georgette Heyer, an Austen Successor, and Another Chance to Win

Congratulations, Susan Heim, on winning the beautiful hardback copy of Pride and Prejudice. Check your email for details on claiming your prize. See the end of this post by Laurie Alice Eakes for another chance to win a fabulous prize. 

Although I have been devoted to the Regency era since the age of fourteen, I never read a book by Jane Austen, nor did I see one of the movie adaptations, for another twenty years. I haven’t even read all of Miss Austen’s books. Instead of this celebrated lady of letters, my attraction to the Regency came through an intermediate step—Georgette Heyer.

Georgette Heyer
Georgette Heyer

For years, I tried to get a copy of A Private Life, a biography of Miss Heyer written by another one of my favorite Regency authors, Jane Aiken Hodge. That tome was never available, so I was thrilled when a new biography by Jennifer Kloester was published. Since I’ve been reading it off and on for the past few weeks (it’s a lengthy book), I thought reviewing it in the month we are celebrating Jane Austen wholly appropriate. My Regency sisters have indulged me, since I am far more fond of Heyer than Austen, as blasphemous as that may be.

Kloester executed a tremendous amount of research for this biography. She must have read a few thousand letters and delved into numerous dusty storage rooms for original documents. The details included are more intriguing—and more edifying—than five minutes of TMZ. This is the book’s greatest strength and greatest weakness. The details about her publishing life, her personality, her friendships and animosities are like juicy gossip, especially to a writer or lover of her books. On the other hand, after a while, as many details as we receive go a little too far. I don’t need endless pages—fortunately scattered—regarding the Rougier (her married name) financial difficulties and mismanagement. Nor do I need the author’s speculation about the couple’s sex life.

KloesterBook_HeyerMore important are the details about her ups and downs as a published author. More ups than downs from most writer’s perspective. She sold her first book when she was nineteen. One of her detective novels was banned by the Irish government as being obscene (it’s not) until the 1960s. And although it rather makes me sad, I like the details about her personal habits such as how she smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for most of her life. It just doesn’t fit my image of this educated and talented Englishwoman born right after the turn of the 19th century. The ways in which she stayed awake when on deadline make me cringe as much as did some of her business decisions.

A business woman she was not unless one counts that she wrote romances, most set in the Regency, for the money, when her heart lay in long historical novels. She did manage to write these, but other than An Infamous Army, these were not the most successful of her books. Readers ate up her Regency and Georgian romances. They also loved her detective novels. To learn that two of her favorite authors were Jane Austen and Raymond Chandler did not at all surprise me.

That others ripped her off didn’t surprise me either. She exchanged letters with publishers and attorneys regarding how closely Barbara Cartland’s books followed Heyer’s, and wasn’t afraid to say the woman needed to do her own research. Cartland wasn’t the only writer who decided to use Miss Heyer’s original research instead of seeking it out for themselves.

Often I have heard that Miss Heyer made up slang terms and even that she inserted false facts to throw off these pretenders to know the time period and write in the same genre Heyer rather developed herself. After reading the biography, I no longer believe these claims to be true. She possessed too much professional integrity to do so.

HeyerBooks

Although Miss Austen wrote during the Regency era that has become a subgenre of romance fiction, the subgenre itself, for which we and dozens of other authors keep blogs,  owes its popularity and stronghold to Georgette Heyer.

The love of Regency romance lives on today. Comment on any post this week for a chance to win a book by one of Regency Reflections’ amazing published authors. The winner will be emailed the list of available books to choose from. The winner will be announced Monday, August 26th. Winner’s mailing address must be within the United States to win. 

The Publishing of Pride and Prejudice and a Chance to Win

The below article contains information and excerpts pulled from Kathryn Kane’s article on the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice from her blog, The Regency Redingote.

Wendnesday, Laurie Alice shared about Jane’s long and laborious road to publishing and her subsequent career. Today we look at the publishing of Pride and Prejudice.

Original title page of Pride and PrejudiceOriginally titled First Impressions, the story of Elizabeth, Darcy, and their families and friends was originally written as a collection of letters. This epistolary style of novel was familiar to Jane as she had already written one as a teenager and one of her favorite authors wrote in that style as well. Obviously, she adjusted the format as well as the title prior to publication.

Pride and Prejudice was Austen’s second novel and it was instantly popular. The first print run of 1500 copies sold out even before the first run of Sense and Sensibility, which was half the size. Demand was so high that in October of 1813, her publisher, Thomas Egerton, released a second print run of Pride and Prejudice. A third printing was done shortly after her death.

Despite the popularity of the novel, Jane made only £110. Far less than the more than £450 her publisher made. Due to the slow sales of Sense and Sensibility at the time, she sold the rights to Pride and Prejudice for a lump sum.

Even though Pride and Prejudice was well loved by the public, Jane felt a little differently. Shortly after Pride and Prejudice was published, Jane wrote to her sister, Cassandra:

Upon the whole … I am well satisfied enough. The work is rather too light, and bright, and sparkling; it wants shade; it wants to be stretched out here and there with a long chapter of sense, if it could be had; if not, of solemn specious nonsense, about something unconnected with the story:   an essay on writing, a critique on Walter Scott, or the history of Buonaparté, or anything that would form a contrast and bring the reader with increased delight to the playfulness and general epigrammatism of the general style.

It may very well be the fact that it was ” … light, and bright, and sparkling … ” which made it so popular.

In 1813, England was involved in wars on two fronts, for both the Peninsular War and the War of 1812 were ongoing. People were weary of war and the privations which it brought. Pride and Prejudice gave them an amusing respite in the peaceful and traditional English countryside, which many valued highly as the epitome of the English way of life. A countryside and way of life which many realized was already under threat from the relentless progress of the Industrial Revolution.

Jane’s fictional village of Meryton was populated by a host of amusing characters involved in the activities of everyday life and her witty tale included a pair of love stories that ended happily ever after.

To read more about the writing and publication of Pride and Prejudice, see Kathryn Kane’s original article 

notecardsThis week we’re giving away a lovely set of Jane Austen notecards. For a chance to win, please leave a comment on any of the posts this week. winner will be drawn Monday, August 12. Winner must have a mailing address within the United States.

Jane Austen’s Road to Publishing and A Chance to Win

Jane Austen
Jane Austen

When one mentions Jane Austen, the majority of people think Pride and Prejudice and the movies, not necessarily the book, who’s bicentennial of it’s publication we are celebrating this month. Miss Austen, however, wrote several other works, including an epistolary novel in the 1790s. Like the majority of authors nowadays, Austen faced rejection and publishers who did not fulfill their promises.

One of Austen’s biographers, Claire Tomalin, writes of Lady Susan, “in letters, it is as neatly plotted as a play, and as cynical in tone as any of the most outrageous of the Restoration dramatists who may have provided some of her inspiration … It stands alone in Austen’s work as a study of an adult woman whose intelligence and force of character are greater than those of anyone she encounters.” This is impressive when one considers she was less than twenty years old.

In 1811, Sense and Sensibility was published, though she probably began it much earlier. We don’t know if the original story known as Elinor and Marianne, which she read to her family in the 1790s, survived in this novel.

Still in the 1790s, Austen attempted a third novel, which was a satire of the popular Gothic novel. That manuscript, which we know as Northanger Abbey, ended up the first one for which she received any money.

One of Austen's early works, The History of England. Photo by wikimedia commons
One of Austen’s early works, The History of England. Photo by wikimedia commons

Her father attempted to get her published, but that manuscript, First Impressions, later published as Pride and Prejudice, was rejected. But in 1803, a London publisher paid Austen ten pounds for the copyright on Northanger Abbey. It was not published until Austen bought back the copyright more than ten years later.

After the family moved to Bath, she may have suffered from a depression that kept her from writing, or she may have revised her already created works. We aren’t certain. We do know she worked on The Watsons, but never finished it after her father died. Her own situation as an unmarried woman without independent means, closely reflected the ladies in the story.

Finally, in 1811, Sense and Sensibility was published and well-received, nearly twenty years after we believe she began work on her first novel. Pride  and Prejudice was published in 1813, which we are celebrating this month as it is her most famous work today.

Mansfield Park was her best selling novel and published in 1814. Reviewers ignored it, but the public did not.

Although the books were published anonymously, and I’ve always been told that no one knew who wrote the books, I scarcely think this is true, at least for those able to worm information from perhaps the publisher, as the Prince Regent’s librarian  invited her to visit and she was given the suggestion that she dedicate Emma to him in 1815. She didn’t like him, but she couldn’t refuse. This was her last book published during her lifetime.

After her death, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were published as a set in 1817. Sanditon was published, though unfinished, in 1825. Her books remained out of print until a set of her works were published in 1833. They have been in print ever since.

notecardsThis week we’re giving away a lovely set of Jane Austen notecards. For a chance to win, please leave a comment on any of the posts this week. winner will be drawn Monday, August 12. Winner must have a mailing address within the United States.

Who Was Jane in Love With?

Jane_Austen_coloured_version
Jane Austen – Wikipedia

I recently read an older biography of Jane Austen entitled Presenting Miss Jane Austen. It was written by May Lamberton Becker and published in 1952. It was well-researched and endorsed by the Jane Austen Society.

What intrigued me the most, however, was a short section in Chapter Thirteen about one of the summer journeys Jane and her sister Cassandra took while they were living in Bath. One of the things Jane most looked forward to living in Bath was spending summers at the seashore. This was a new vacation destination for regency society, who had up to then been accustomed to going to the watering holes of Bath and Tunbridge Wells. But with the Prince Regent preferring to spend his time at the seashore in Brighton (which grew up around the original settlement of Brighthelmstone), the Brits took to the sea.

Jane writes about this new mobilization in a satirical way in one of her unfinished novels Sanditon, in which a resort town is being constructed around a traditional fishing village. You can see her humor in the town’s name which sounds suspiciously like “Sand Town.”

It was on one of these summer jaunts that Jane and her sister met a young clergyman at one of their stops. Perhaps it was in Devonshire, the author speculates. This clergyman was visiting his brother, a doctor. Her sister Cassandra is quoted in one of her letters as saying he was “one of the most charming persons she had ever known.” When they continued their journey, this gentleman asked permission to join them farther ahead in another town. According to the author, permission was given, which in these more formal times, meant a tacit agreement of a serious intention. When the sisters arrived at the town, Jane received a letter announcing his death.

Fast forward to more recent times when a literary biographer, Dr. Andrew Norman, has written a book called Jane Austen: An Unrequited Love (2009). He claims the identity of this mysterious gentleman is the clergyman Dr. Samuel Blackall, the brother of Dr. John Blackall, a physician. It seems Jane met him years earlier in 1798, when the two were guests of mutual friends, the Lefroys (one of whom, Tom Lefroy, is depicted as Jane Austen’s love in the movie In Becoming Jane).

Four years later they seem to have met again on the southern coast of England in the town of Totnes in Devon. Norman says she was visiting this town with her parents and met and fell in love with a clergyman who was visiting his physician brother who worked there.

Until then no one knew the name of this mysterious clergyman. But Norman searched the town records until uncovering the name of one physician, a Dr. John Blackall. He put two and two together and concluded that this is the same family Jane had met earlier at the Lefroys.

Very few of Jane’s letters survive from the years directly after this meeting, between 1801-1804.  Norman says that Blackall did not die but married someone else in 1813.

So, who knows what really happened. I prefer the first biographer’s conclusion, that Jane and this young clergyman did meet and fall in love and then he died prematurely. Jane loved him to her dying day, and her feelings are reflected in that famous quote from her novel Persuasion in which she debates who loves longest, men or women: “All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one, you need not covet it) is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone.”

What do you think?