• Romcom

    Old Maids and Mind Games in Austenland

    Jerusha Hess’ Austenland (2013) centers on Jane Hayes (Keri Russell), a thirtysomething Jane Austen devotee who is having difficulty in the dating world. The audience is led to believe that Jane’s primary problem is her all-consuming love for Austen’s romantic stories. In one scene, Jane is watching BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice with her date. He nibbles provocatively at her neck while she’s distracted by the sight of a sodden Colin Firth walking onto the banks of the lake on his Pemberley estate. Austenland follows Jane as she decides to become her own Austen heroine in a last-ditch effort to exchange modern spinsterhood for a love story written only…

  • PBS Masterpiece Sanditon

    Three questions about Andrew Davies’ Sanditon

    Two weeks after Andrew Davies’ PBS Masterpiece Sanditon (2019) concluded, the #sanditonsisterhood continues its bid for a second season. Even some diehard #Sidlotte fans, though, have conveyed disgruntlement about the contrived finale, which completely turned the series on its head with Sidney Parker’s (Theo James) selfless decision to marry Eliza Campion (Ruth Kearny) in order to save his brother’s resort, thereby abruptly ending his and Charlotte’s imminent engagement. Fans have expressed their desire for a “neat ending,” arguing that Jane Austen would have given her readers such an ending. Although the design of the conclusion was meant to breath life into a second season, it has ironically had the opposite…

  • PBS Masterpiece Sanditon

    Episodes Three and Four

    Although PBS’ Sanditon (2019) has made many departures from the original, incomplete text, the series itself reflects an interest in patriarchal structures inherent to the original text and all of Austen’s published work. As Madeline’s review argues, the older women in Sanditon, while being either idealized or vilified, model potential paths for young women who depend upon their success in the marriage market and their resulting position of operation in a patriarchal society. However, another interesting and related facet of female agency within a patriarchal framework is explored in the relationships of Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) with Miss Lambe (Crystal Clarke) and Clara Brereton (Lily Sacofsky) with Esther Denham (Charlotte…

  • JAFF

    Privileging the Male Perspective: Wendy van Camp’s The Curate’s Brother

    Wendy van Camp’s The Curate’s Brother: A Variation on Persuasion (2015) traces its literary ancestry back to fanfic more than the Regency novel. Whereas the Sir Walter Elliot of Jane Austen’s Persuasion (1818) reads through centuries of his family’s published lineage, the modern reader of Camp’s novelette skims through just over a decade’s worth of literary internet culture deceptively packaged as a period piece (Persuasion 1). Fanfic may have been coined in the 1930s, but according to Stephanie Burt in “The Promise and Potential of Fan Fiction”, the digitized fanfic that we recognize today began in 2007 (The New Yorker). Notable for its interactive qualities, fanfic allows writers and readers to mold literary…

  • Engraving of Thomas Rowlandson Sea Bathing 1813
    PBS Masterpiece Sanditon

    Episodes One and Two

    Andrew Davies’s 2019 television adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sanditon (1925) promised to be a departure from the text: “there isn’t much of ‘Sanditon,’ a new eight-part Austen adaptation arriving Sunday on PBS’s ‘Masterpiece,’ that was taken directly from the author’s writings” (Suclas, NYTimes). The lack of Austen’s Sanditon in PBS’s Sanditon is abundantly clear in the first two episodes of the series. The first episode quickly diverges from the original plot; and while the viewer will find similarities between the two, the Twitter backlash facing the series becomes increasingly understandable with each episode. In an article for The New York Times, Davies revealed, “‘It’s not a secret that we were…

  • JAFF

    An Arranged Marriage: Mary Bennet’s Alternate Path

    Jan Hahn’s novel An Arranged Marriage: A Pride and Prejudice Alternate Path (2011) imagines an alternate ending to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice (1813): Elizabeth accepts Mr. Darcy’s second proposal not as a result of the revelation of the actuality of his genuine care for her and general benevolence, but because it is necessitated by her family’s financial crisis following the death of Mr. Bennet. Hahn’s central intent  is intimated by Elizabeth’s own pointed reflection on the elucidating letter she received from Darcy following her initial refusal to marry him, that “much was gained by reading between the lines” (60). Where Elizabeth looks to this letter to “[e]nlighten [her] to…

  • JAFF

    Henry Tilney’s Diary

    In Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1798/1818), Henry Tilney pokes fun at Catherine Morland for not keeping a journal: “‘my dear madam, I am not so ignorant of young ladies’ ways as you wish to believe me; it is this delightful habit of journalizing which largely contributes to form the easy style of writing for which ladies are so generally celebrated’” (Austen, Northanger Abbey, 27). Henry’s teasing disbelief at Catherine’s lack of journalizing informs Amanda Grange’s novel inspired by Northanger Abbey: Henry Tilney’s Diary (2011). Grange chronicles three major periods of Henry’s life through the form of a personal diary. Set between 1790 and 1799, the diary traces Henry’s maturation and…

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