April 17, 2021, 01:28:07 AM

Author Topic: Austenland  (Read 2195 times)

Offline JMack

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« on: March 27, 2015, 05:13:31 PM »
Nice article from the Wall Street Journal today on the amazing popularity of Jane Austen's novels.

Here is some, and the rest is available via the link (though it may be behind the WSJ paywall; not sure.)

Spoiler for Hiden:
The poet W.H. Auden said of Sigmund Freud that he was no longer just a person but had become a climate of opinion. That is about as effusive a compliment as one can imagine, and there are very few thinkers or writers who merit it. But one who undoubtedly does is Jane Austen. She is not only a climate of opinion, she is a movement, a mood, a lifestyle, an attitude and, perhaps most tellingly of all, a fridge magnet.

What explains the continued popularity of Jane Austen and the handful of novels she wrote? It is, after all, rather remarkable that a woman who spent her life in quiet provincial circumstances in early 19th-century England should become, posthumously, a literary celebrity outshining every author since then, bar none. Tolstoy, Dickens and Proust are all remembered, and still read, but they do not have countless fans throughout the world who reread their books each year, who eagerly await the latest television or movie adaptation, who attend conventions in period costume, and who no doubt dream about the heroes and heroines of their novels.

And it gets better. Although the literary sequel is an established genre, there are no other writers who have quite so many imitators. Each publishing year brings its crop of Austen novels, whether they are prequels, sequels or fresh treatments of a plot from a new perspective. Last year saw a particularly good one, Jo Baker’s “Longbourn,” which was “Pride and Prejudice” viewed from below the stairs by the servants. The veteran crime novelist P.D. James also joined in with her “Death Comes to Pemberley,” which brought murder into the otherwise ordered world of Austen’s characters. That novel was duly added to the list of Austen sequels that have ended up on the screen, including the odd Bollywood contribution.

On the fringes of all this are some rather bizarre additions to the enlarged Austen canon. Perhaps the most famous of these is Seth Grahame-Smith’s “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” This follows the general plotline of the original novel, but it peoples the world of Regency England with the aggressive undead, making life in the English countryside somewhat difficult. The same Philadelphia publisher later followed with “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.”
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