Sunday, March 05, 2006

Jane Austin

Jane Austin died of Addison's Disease on July 18th, 1817, but her legacy lives on.

I became a fan of hers when I was quite young, listening to a radio adaptation of Pride and Prejudice before I went to school in a small country town. It was late enough that I had to run all the way to school and the single male teacher (all the classes were together in a common room) was not amused by my excuse so I kept trying out new ones until he took me aside and suggested I stick to the truth or come early and listen to it with him on the school radio. I don't remember his name now, but when the time came to leave that town, I looked over my shoulder with regret. Something that didn't happen often.

I went on to read her other stories, her collected letters, including a fanciful history of Englandand a poem about English weather she dictated just before her death and saw an excellent one-woman show about her life based on her correspondence. All this gives me some interest in the most recent of screen adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

I enjoyed Matthew MacFadyen in "Spooks" and Keira Knightley is an attractive young woman playing a thoroughly modern Miss Elizabeth Bennet. The settings were gorgeous and much more realistic than any of the previous attempts, while the pastische of scenes cobbled together in an attempt to span the high points of the story without becoming too long were thorougly enjoyable, but I can't help feeling that they missed the whole point of Jane Austin's writing and would have been a terrible disappointment to her.

I escaped ever having to analyze Pride & Prejudice in school, so I've never read the academic notes on the story, just Jane Austin's views and my own regret that unlike Dickens she chose to write in a political vacuum during times of great change. I would have loved reading her slant on the contempary events around her.

I guess I'm growing old and grumpy.

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