Run Elizabeth Bennet! The Zombies are Coming

Vanessa here,

Seems like a long time since we last spoke. I’ve missed you all. Lately I’ve been think about Elizabeth Bennet. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s second eldest daughter. What if I were to bump in to Elizabeth on the street or if she fancied to sail to Georgia to have tea on my porch. What would that be like?

Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits
Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits

 

 

It could happen. Well, in the mind of an author, anything is possible. My friend, Mary Jane Hathaway did so in Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits. Shelby Roswell (the Elizabeth Character) can’t wait for the visiting professor to her college to leave, but Ransom Fielding (Darcy) is not ready to budge.

 

 

Darcy Chooses
Darcy Chooses

 

Too modern?

Some have kept the 1800’s flavor with their rendition and tweaked the story as did Gianna Thomas and her serialized novels of Pride and Prejudice. Darcy meets Elizabeth saving her from a carriage accident.

 

 

 

 

 

Pride and Popularity
Pride and Popularity

 

What about a younger Elizabeth?

Author Jenni James has put poor Elizabeth into high school with her YA novel, shoving Elizabeth (Chloe Elizabeth) into teenage angst.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bride and Prejudice
Bride and Prejudice

 

Does Elizabeth have to be English?

Others have taken the spirit of Darcy and Elizabeth and spread their love to other shores, like the Bollywood tale, “Bride and Prejudice.”

 

 

 

 

Ever since Jane Austen penned the famous Pride and Prejudice, authors’ imaginations have been sparked and brilliant new renditions of the famous story have been written. Yet, I don’t know how I feel about the zombies.

Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies
Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies

 

Seth Grahame-Smith creates a mashup of Darcy, Elizabeth, and Zombies. The author gives an extra reason for the militia being in Meryton, and it’s not to fight Napoleon. Elizabeth, as a Regency version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is a bit much me, but I suppose the undead need their Pride and Prejudice fix too.

 

 

So what about you. Do these new tales disturb or delight? Does the thought of something new, make you want Elizabeth to flee Meryton straight to your front porch?

 

 

 

 

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. 

Film Editions of Pride and Prejudice: 1980 BBC Version

253px-PrideAndPrejudiceBBC
1979 Adaption

I never thought I’d find a film version of Pride and Prejudice that I liked better than the 1995 BBC/A&E version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, until I watched this earlier 1980 BBC version with David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garvie.

I first heard about it in a letter to the editor in the publication Jane Austen’s Regency World, the official magazine of the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England.
This reader, a PhD from Australia, thought the 1980 adaptation written by screenwriter Fay Weldon was superior, even though she did like the Colin Firth version as well.

So I ordered this 1980 version and sat down to watch its 5 episodes over the course of a few evenings. After the first episode, in which I had to adapt myself to this whole different cast of Austen characters whom I’ve come to visualize from the 1995 version, I began to appreciate this earlier crew. In the end, I think I liked Elizabeth Garvie better as Elizabeth Bennet than Jennifer Ehle; and it was a hard choice between Rintoul and Firth–and I’m a big Firth fan. Both actors are drop-dead gorgeous in my opinion, so no contest there.

Mr. Darcy is a hard role to play because he is expressionless in much of the book, so the male actor playing this character has a hard time showing his inner turmoil to the audience, when his face must remain so aloof and deadpan. However, once the turning point is reached in the story (after the first marriage proposal), when Mr. Darcy begins showing a more human side, I think David Rintoul portrays this better than Colin Firth–but only by a whisker. And, sorry, no wet-shirt scene.

Like the BBC/A&E version, this script sticks much more closely to the book than the 2005 Keira Knightley version, yet it takes more liberties than the 1995 BBC/A&E script, because it adds some lines of dialogue that aren’t in the book and it adds some introspection on Elizabeth Bennet’s part. You hear her thoughts about Mr. Darcy (after she reads his letter, for example). I liked this addition because it makes her gradual falling in love more believable.

I still don’t like the 2005 version with Keira Knightley at all (I’ve never been able to sit through the entire thing), although I enjoyed reading Naomi Rawlings’ championing of it. It helped me understand why those who do love it so much do, but I still prefer a version more closely aligned to the book.

Elizabeth-Bennet-and-Mr-Darcy-played-by-Elizabeth-Garvie-and-David-Rintoul-in-Pride-and-Prejudice-1980
Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul

I loved the costuming of this 1980 Fay Weldon version; I think it’s the superior version of all three as far as accuracy when it comes to costuming. As I watched each episode, I felt I was looking at paintings and engravings directly from the regency era. I do believe Elizabeth Bennett lived in an upper class (though modest) house, unlike the 2005 version that made the Bennet family look like borderline poverty, (which doesn’t jive at all with Emma, where a prosperous farmer is considered too low on the social ladder to socialize with the gentry).

I highly recommend this 1980 adaption of Pride and Prejudice, even for the diehard Firth/Ehle fans.

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. 

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. 

 

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.