Friday, December 16, 2011

Jane Austen's Birthday--and a Contest

Jane Austen was born on 16 December 1775, at Steventon rectory in Hampshire, the sixth child and second daughter of the Rev. George Austen and his wife, Cassandra. That her books are still beloved today, 236 years later, is a testament to the excellence of her work.

Here are a few quotes from Jane Austen's books to test your knowledge. Post your answers in the comments below. You will earn a point if you know the novel from which the quote comes and an additional point if you know the scene/circumstances/character(s).  I'll give the answers next week, as well as an autographed copy of one of my books to the person who scores the most points. (The contest entry comments won't appear, since that would give an advantage to the people who enter just before the deadline.)

1. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

2. But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way.

3. Everybody likes to go their own way---to choose their own time and manner of devotion.

4. When any two young people take it into their heads to marry, they are pretty sure by perseverance to carry their point, be they ever so poor, or ever so imprudent, or ever so little likely to be necessary to each other's ultimate comfort.

5. One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.

6. We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.

7. No one can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with.

8. In every power, of which taste is the foundation, excellence is pretty fairly divided between the sexes.

9. Human nature is so well disposed towards those who are in interesting situations, that a young person, who either marries or dies, is sure of being kindly spoken of.

10. It isn't what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.

One of my fondest writing memories is of reading Sense and Sensibility while writing A Scandalous Journey. I was searching for quotes to use in the story because the hero reads the novel to the heroine throughout their journey.

I reread all of Jane Austen's books a year and a half ago, before teaching a course called "The World of Jane Austen," so I probably won't reread them again this month. I am, however, contemplating a Jane Austen movie marathon. I did one last year between Christmas and Twelfth Night and enjoyed it immensely.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2012 Reading Challenge

I (and several writer and non-writer friends) have accepted the challenge to read 100 books in 2012. Most years I read that many or more, but there may have been a year or two in the past four when I didn't not reach that level, either because I chose to read a bunch of long books or because I didn't have as much time for reading. Or both.

Want to join us? Click on this link to sign up. I'll be listing the books I read here. For example, last week I read Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Right now, I'm reading another medieval novel, For the King's Favor by Elizabeth Chadwick, which started about the time Pillars of the Earth ended.

I'm also, rather sporadically at the moment, reading The Years of Endurance 1793-1802 by Arthur Bryant, about the early years of Britain's opposition to the French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte.

What are you reading this week?


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Jane Austen Novels and Their Movie Adaptions

In honor of Jane Austen's birthday, which is later this week (16 December), at Risky Regencies today, my friend Amanda McCabe is talking about the movie adaptions of Jane Austen's novels.

I agree almost completely with Amanda's assessment of the movies. The only version of Mansfield Park I know is the 1983 mini-series, which was slow and drawn out and rather depressing.

I didn't love the 2007 version of Northanger Abbey, but I liked it better than the previous version.

I haven't seen the 2008 version of Sense and Sensibility, but it's hard for me to imagine that it's better than the 1995 version with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman, which I love.

I haven't seen the 2007 version of Persuasion, but it's almost impossible to imagine that it could be better than the 1995 version with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds, which---most days---is my all-time favorite. (The Thompson-Grant-Rickman version of S&S occasionally edges it out of first place.)

I haven't seen the 2009 version of Emma, but I like both the Paltrow version and the Beckinsale version movies. I also agree with Amanda that it would be nice to combine aspects of both versions to make a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

In honor of Jane Austen's birthday, let's talk about her books and the movie adaptions of them. Which one(s) is your favorite?

Of the books, my favorite is either Sense and Sensibility or Persuasion, depending on the day you ask. Of the movies, as stated earlier, most days the Root-Hinds version of Persuasion is my favorite, but the Thompson-Winslet-Grant-Rickman version of Sense and Sensibility is a close a second---and occasionally edges out Persuasion.

Last year, I had surgery on my foot three days before Christmas and had to spend three weeks on the couch with my foot propped up on the back of the couch. I could get up for no more than five minutes at a time, and I couldn't walk farther than the bathroom or kitchen. (The first couple days, crutches, which I had never used before, were required.) During that quite long three weeks, I had a Jane Austen movie marathon. I watched every version of every Jane Austen novel adaption I had (11 of them) at least once (MP & NA), and most of them multiple times. The most watched versions were the Root-Hinds Persuasion, the Thompson-Winslet-Grant-Rickman Sense & Sensibility, the Knightley-Macfayden version of Pride and Prejudice, the Paltrow version of Emma, the A&E  (Firth-Elhe) version of Pride & Prejudice, and the Beckinsale version of Emma, pretty much in that order.

I'm contemplating another Jane Austen movie marathon this holiday season.