“Sexing-up” Mr Darcy

October 14, 2015 at 1:57 pm (entertainment, jane austen, news) (, )

Devoney Looser has an article in The Independent entitled Mr. Darcy through the ages. Of course, the flight relies heavily on the Darcy of Colin Firth (and, quite evidently, writer Andrew Davies; he said as much at the Fort Worth AGM in 2011).

Quite eye-opening to read about the “early” attempts at presenting Pride and Prejudice on the stage. Sounds like one should seek more information on the pre-film Darcy, COLIN KEITH-JOHNSTON, who had the role on Broadway.

pp_colin keith johnston

(Olivier of course in the film, with Greer Garson)

As I read more and more of the article, I found myself thinking:

“A novel focused on men never has writers angsting over the smaller-roled women characters; but have a (wonderful!) novel focused on WOMEN and always the focus struggles not to shift to the off-to-one-side men.”

I don’t at all mean this as criticism of Devoney’s EXCELLENT article, but as a wake-up call about all the (never-ending) Darcy-centric-ness in general.

Don’t get me wrong, we all love a LOVE STORY – and Lizzy must have her Darcy. BUT: Must women suffer getting paid LESS for comparable roles & work (read about Jennifer Lawrence) AND have the spotlight taken away, too, when they are the STAR?”

Think about it. It’s The King and I all over again: once Yul Brynner broke out as “quintessential” king, the role of Anna slightly dimmed forever.

Pride and Prejudice is Lizzy’s story – we see things through her eyes, and realize what she comes to realize, that this aloof young man is a worthy life-mate. Even in this highly VISUAL age (which I’m a bit disdainful of, at the present moment especially) — and _I_ understand as well as anyone how vital good looks and pleasing places and costumes are to a production (I’m as susceptible as anyone…) — ALL this blathering about Darcy (and especially the same ONE incarnation) seems unfair to my dear LIZZY!

So, my question is: IF this were a novel about DARCY, would there be as much ink spilled over the over-shadowing of Miss Elizabeth Bennet? Would screenwriters work hard to sex her up or give HER more screen time?

[certainly TV sexed up Fanny Price… totally ruining the television series of that novel..]

Would Lizzy’s LOOKS mean more than her inner integrity, wit, and intelligence? Aren’t women already OBJECTS? (especially in advertising).

Like Anna Leonowens, Lizzy Bennet seems now to have sunk into second place behind the man. Am _I_ the only one shouting, “ENOUGH about DARCY! Get back to the novel, and let’s lift Elizabeth Bennet back up to her starring role”???

It’s like our heroine has been elbowed out of the limelight.

And Lizzy’s toe-tapping means she’s getting rather TIRED of being treated as second banana in her own tale…

back to the bookBACK to the BOOK

darcy-lizzy together(where Darcy doesn’t over-shadow Miss E. Bennet)

lizzy bennet_noooo(Lizzy Bennet is NOT happy!)

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Jane Austen’s Matchmaker (game)

September 21, 2014 at 2:16 pm (entertainment, jane austen) (, , , , )

Every once in a while I visit Kickstarter – to see what “AUSTEN” projects are out there. (Never know… one day it may be a project of my own!)

Today I found Jane Austen’s Matchmaker — what looks to be a really fun game to play, and of course for the Austen fan a “gotta have that” item.

You’ve still a week (until 28 Sept 2014) to pledge – and there’s even time enough to receive your “gift” before Christmas!

ja matchmaker

A Ruthlessly Romantic Card Game!

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Pride & Prejudice: Having a Ball

May 11, 2013 at 7:42 pm (entertainment, fashion, history, jane austen, news, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Act now to watch Amanda Vickery’s program Pride and Prejudice: Having a Ball.

Austen! Food! Dance! Music! Wonderfully informative.

You’ll even learn about White Soup.

ball1 ball2 ball3 ball4 ball5 ball6 ball7 ball8 ball9 ball10 ball12 ball13 ball14 ball15 ball16 ball17 ball18 ball19 ball20 ball21 ball22 ball23

for more on

Comment on the show

  • leave comments below; I’d LOVE to hear from you

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Jane Austen “News”

May 4, 2013 at 10:54 am (books, entertainment, history, jane austen, jasna) (, , , , )

Just received the latest issue of JASNA News — an article on Goucher College’s Pride and Prejudice: A 200-Year Affair exhibit is front and center.

On display until July 26th (2013), you can visit the exhibition online. I love the book images, like this ‘map’ to characters of Pride and Prejudice by B. Gordon Smith:

pride and prejudice characters

Other Goucher links:

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Mr Bennet celebrates 200th Anniversary Pride and Prejudice

March 10, 2013 at 11:09 am (books, jane austen) (, , , , )

Terribly funny letter from Mr Bennet to his “dear Lizzy” can be found in this short (3-minute) performance by Timothy West, script by Sue Limb.

timothy westAfter “200 years”… Timothy West / Mr Bennet props up the bar on Coronation Street
(Thanks, Calista, for the link!)

 

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Lady Frances Compton’s Library

February 10, 2013 at 12:27 pm (books, chutes of the vyne, entertainment, europe, jane austen, news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , )

Compton_Lady FrancesLady Frances Compton, sister of the 1st Marquess of Northampton of Castle Ashby, is just one of the many strong women I have come across in the extended Smith of Suttons family. You cannot image how thrilling it is to see a picture of her. And sold so long ago (see Sotheby’s 2006 auction). Her father’s miniature I had seen, but it’s hers I’m happy to see!

She is more easily tracked than her niece (and namesake), Lady Frances Elizabeth Compton (aka Lady Elizabeth Dickins, wife of Charles Scrase Dickins), and among the items unearthed yesterday are some BOOKS.

I have long been interested in the library holdings of the extended family. And was just overjoyed to be holding in my hands — thanks to a gift from Martyn Downer (author of, among other texts, Nelson’s Purse, which traces the friendship of Lord Nelson with Mary Gosling’s uncle, Alexander Davison) of an actual book once in the library of Mrs Gosling (her bookplate attachment). More about that important gift at a later date.

A small image of Lady Frances’ bookplate will continue my story.

bookplate_Lady FrancesThis appears in what seems to be a CURRENT sale of a book entitled, Wild Flowers, or, Pastoral and Local Poetry by Robert Bloomfield, published in 1806.

But there’s more out there…

This one is of great interest to me, being an ‘American Lady‘: Memoirs of an American Lady: with sketches and manners and scenery in America, as they existed previous to the Revolution. By the author of Letters from the Mountains, &c &c {Anne Grant}. Published in 1808. How wonderful to picture Lady Frances, whether in England or abroad on the Continent, sitting down to read about a woman who “spent her formative years” in Albany, New York — which is a few hours to the south of me in northern Vermont.

But there’s more….

A copy of Amelie Opie’s Valentine’s Eve (3 vols; 1816) also comes complete “Mit dem heraldischen Exlibris von Lady Frances Compton auf den Innendeckeln.” The seller is in Switzerland, a country which Lady Frances frequented.

And more…

Richard Johnson’s Lilliputian Library; Or, Gulliver’s Museum containing Lectures on Morality. Historical Pieces. Interesting Fables…. has a subscription list. Lady Frances began early then, as she is listed in this 1779 title.

Last, I will mention one academic library – King’s library at Miami University – which has in its Special Collections a volume once owned by Lady Frances. I LOVE the title, which I include in full: An essay on the art of ingeniously tormenting: with proper rules for the exercise of that pleasant art, humbly addressed; In the first part to the master, husband &c. In the second part to the wife, friend &c. with some general instructions for plaguing all your acquaintance.

I leave my best two thoughts for last.

The sellers of the first book, Wild Flowers, have possibly seen Deirdre Le Faye’s excellent Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family – for they cite the following as an inducement to purchase: “Lady Frances was a friend of the Austen family and frequently visited and dined with them.” Hmmmm….

And then there’s this:

The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets.

4 volumes. [6], 436; v, [1], 431; [4], 409 + [1] ad; [4], 452 pp. Copper-engraved frontispiece portrait of Johnson in Vol. I. 8½x5, period straight-grained red morocco ruled in gilt, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Attractive edition, in nice period bindings. With the bookplates of Mrs. Chute, and an ink inscription in the first volume, “Elizabeth Chute, Lady Francis Compton’s gift, 1799.”
Heading:
Author: Johnson, Samuel
Place Published: London
Publisher Name: Printed for T. Longman, et al.
Date Published: 1794

lives_English Poets

Did Eliza really write her name as Lady Francis Compton?
The entire family (until Emma’s involvement with James Edward Austen)
did typical write Austin rather than Austen.
“Misspellings” make searches more challenging.

Check out Lot 6 from the same 2006 sale. Who was Lady Tara?

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No Words Can Express…

January 28, 2013 at 8:25 pm (books, jane austen) (, , , , )

EdwardAusten-silhouetteAccording to his daughter, Mary Augusta Austen Leigh, it wasn’t until the end of 1814 that James Edward Austen was “admitted to the knowledge of a well-kept secret, this being that his Aunt Jane had lately published two books, though he had read these books with a keen enjoyment.”

The two books, of course, were Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Pride and Prejudice (1813). The latter first saw the light of day TWO HUNDRED YEARS AGO TODAY (28 January).

Many in the family traded poems, and Edward composed this one after finally being let in on the “secret” of Jane Austen’s authorship:

To Miss J. Austen

No words can express, my dear Aunt, my surprise
Or make you conceive how I opened my eyes,
Like a pig Butcher Pile has just struck with his knife,
When I heard for the very first time in my life
That I had the honour to have a relation
Whose works were dispersed throughout the whole of the nation.

….

And though Mr. Collins, so grateful for all,
Will Lady de Bourgh his dear Patroness call,
‘Tis to your ingenuity he really owed
His living, his wife, and his humble abode.

Cheers! to the author who invented Elizabeth Bennet, Mr Darcy of Pemberley, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, my dear Charlotte Lucas, and of course the sisters Bennet and their relation the Reverend Mr Collins.

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2Teens joins Pinterest!

September 3, 2012 at 10:55 am (books, entertainment, fashion, jane austen, research) (, , , , , )

I could resist no longer. Although I may never have the time to devote to my Pinterest boards as I might wish, I’ve begun! So, if you too are on Pinterest, please follow me and I’ll follow you. There’s a lot of boards dedicated to Jane Austen; to films; to books; to Regency fashions. I’ve only found the tip of the Austen Iceberg, I’m sure.

And what made me finally take the plunge?

The following made me chuckle – How True, How True:

Then this one made me LAUGH OUT LOUD:

(I, too, have no children… and because my work colleagues have youngsters, I think I now know why Austen called Pride & Prejudice her own darling child => manuscripts clamber for attention and time, just as children do. Only people easily dismiss your work and dedication.)

Although the boards have only been up since last evening – and are hardly “filled”, this little image (one among so many along the same lines; how DID this type of  “poster” begin its life???) has been a hit, getting likes and repins. It perfectly illustrates how I wish my life — as a wish to live by my research takes hold more and more (but the bank account has other ideas!) — could be:

Visit the Pinterest board that first posted these images

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Renishaw Hall: BBC’s Pemberley

August 28, 2012 at 7:36 pm (books, entertainment, jane austen, places, travel) (, , , , , , , )

My friend Calista and her husband Francis recently journeyed to Derbyshire to visit Renishaw Hall.

Renishaw Hall served as Pemberley in the BBC’s 1980 production of Pride and Prejudice starring Elizabeth Garvey and David Rintoul. Calista and I love this version; for me, it’s due to the authenticity of Fay Weldon’s screenplay. In the photo above, you witness the arrival of Miss Eliza Bennet and the Gardiners.

They are greeted by Mrs Reynolds, the housekeeper:

We have here some of the finest rooms in the Country,
and many choose to view them.”

While the loquacious Mrs Reynolds takes pleasure in showing visitors the interior of the house, it is the gardener who leads the visitors around the gardens:

All of which causes Elizabeth to think that she might have been mistress of all she surveys at Pemberley:

Here are Calista’s thoughts on her own tour of Renishaw Hall / Pemberley:

“Went to Renishaw Hall around 11 yesterday. First, we explored the gardens, since the guided tour to the house for which I had made reservations began at 12:30.

The gardens were very well maintained with some flowers and as we walked we found some very beautiful butterflies, brown colour with big purple spots all over. We explored the very area where Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth met. I stood there admiring this beautiful house… I did want to walk by the lake but it was closed off and when Francis asked why I wanted to walk by the lake I had to explain it to him: That’s where Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth and the Gardiners walked by. You should have seen Francis’s face; it was priceless… He must have thought I was really gone nuts this time…

At 12:30pm there was a group of people and we all went in to the house. The house is opened to the public only by guided tours during August and September. The family rooms are still in use and we did see the grand drawing room, dining room, and few other rooms. There were three famous Sitwells — Edith Sitwell being one of them, her portraits were everywhere. Renishaw Hall is no Chatsworth but I didn’t expect it to be; it has its own beauty and charm. We didn’t see any of the bedrooms since upstairs was not included in the tour. Did not see the long gallery of portraits; don’t know if such a place exists at Renishaw. They did have a small museum in the court yard, as well. I did buy some rose petal potpourri at the gift shop.”

She later added,

“You know last night I rewatched the part where Elizabeth visits Pemberley. The gardens haven’t changed drastically. I am guessing the lake scene must be from somewhere else since the lake in front of the Renishaw Hall didn’t look anything like what was shown on the series. That part of the lake is blocked off from the edge of the gardens, so no way to walk towards the lake.

As to the house, the entrance where everyone enters is the very entrance we took. It’s the house’s main entrance and right in front of it is a parking lot now. Our car wasn’t parked too far from it. As you enter there is no staircase where Mrs. Reynolds meets the party but a somewhat larger room nicely decorated. The drawing room in the house is lovely; wish they had used the same room in the show. Remember where Mr. Bingley and the rest of the party meets? That room I did not see, perhaps a studio room or from somewhere else or even some other room in the house.”

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London Literary Tour: 84, Charing Cross Road

July 26, 2012 at 11:47 pm (a day in the life, entertainment, jane austen, travel) (, , , , , , , , , )

In my email today, in honor of the London Olympics, ABE Books (used books site) sent a newsletter featuring “A Literary Tour of London“. It ended with “What books are missing from this list?” Carol S. from West Sussex responded, “84 Charing Cross Road” — that had me DASHING to my closet, where the bulk of my paperbacks are kept, in order to dig it out.

I devoured it.

Chuckled over parts.

Wished I, too, had book-people.

Want to see London (though NOT in Olympic Chaos).

Will probably continue on with its sequel, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street.

And now I want to share

Some bits I especially

thought

were wonderfully touching

and written for book-lovers and London-lovers:

  • “Will your please translate your prices hereafter? I don’t add too well in plain American, I haven’t a prayer of ever mastering bilingual arithmetic.”
  • “I have implicit faith in the U.S. Airmail and His Majesty’s Postal Service.”
  • “I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. The day Hazlitt came he opened to ‘I hate to read new books,’ and I hollered ‘Comrade!’ to whoever owned it before me.”
  • “you leave me sitting here writing long margin notes in library books that don’t belong to me, some day they’ll find out i did it and take my library card away.”
  • “I just never saw a book so beautiful. I feel vaguely guilty about owning it.”
  • “P.S. Have you got Sam Pepys’ diary over there?”

and too many more… including that Helene went out of her mind over Pride and Prejudice.

From the 1950s austerity to the Beatles hysteria – this slim volume has it all. As Helene says, “Write me about London — the tube, the Inns of Court, Mayfair, the corner where the Globe Theatre stood, anything. I’m not fussy.”

We’ll leave 84, Charing Cross Road with this description by Maxine: “It’s dim inside, you smell the shop before you see it, it’s a lovely smell…” and these parting words from Frank: “it’s an old edition…, not very handsome but well bound and a good clean copy, and we are sending it off to you today with invoice enclosed.”

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