Friday, August 29, 2014

What Excellent Boiled Potatoes

Rose, over at the beautiful The Best of Classics, is hosting a Jane Austen Week.
Pfft. You couldn't expect me to pass up an Austen party, could you?
(P.S. I apologize if this is a bit disjointed, but I decided to read The Histories of Middle-Earth, but started with The Lays of Beleriand, and it's poetry, and it's book 3, and there's only about 14 different languages in Middle-Earth......transitioning back to Austen is a little tough. I swear I'm gonna read Emma again when I finish Tolkien.)

When and how did you first get acquainted with Jane Austen?

Oh, now, here is a jolly story. Once upon a time, when I was 13, I finished my church's Bible program for girls, and my leaders threw me a surprise sleepover with my best homies. They promised a movie that I would just LOOOOVVVEEE. This ended up being Sense & Sensibility (1995), and Yours Truly, Hopeless Romantic was hooked. The others kept talking about a movie that had something to do with pride and something about prejudice, but I vehemently assured them that NO love story could be more romantic than Brandwood.
Heheh. Within a year, I had watched Pride & Prejudice (2005), and I changed my mind so fast my brain had whiplash. Elizabeth Bennet was THE woman, in my eyes, and Mr. Darcy was incomparable. Oddly, though, I never read the books until 6 years later. I think I was intimidated. In 2012, my good friend Alecia had an Austen film marathon for her birthday, and I realized I had some homework to do.  I had already read P&P and S&S, so I finished Emma, and then devoured Persuasion, Lady Susan, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park in 2 months. Hence began an obsession.

Favourite Jane Austen book?

I am struggling to choose, because, again, I’ve been immersed in Tolkien, and I forget some things. I love many things about the books, but for different reasons. Looking at the books and stories as a whole, I think it’s a tie between P&P and Persuasion. I love the depth of P&P, its tongue-in-cheek social commentary, the character development, and the range of characters it shows. The character development impresses me so much that I am considering doing a character study of P&P and Proverbs (but I don’t know if normal people do that). But I really, really love the story of Persuasion. The lessons it presents: love with all you’ve got, true love doesn’t easily die, forgiveness is worth the effort, avoiding bitterness is a hard but rewarding choice, second chances do come sometimes…shall I continue?!

Favourite heroine?

With so many brilliant heroines, how does a girl choose? For several years, I loved Elizabeth best. In my eyes, she was the perfect woman: beautiful, witty, charming, polite, smart, well-spoken, brave. (Actually, no woman can surpass Polly Milton Shaw, but she’s Alcott, not Austen. Wrong party.) But the more I read of Emma, the more she grows in my estimation. She is by no means perfect, and that is what I now love. In short, Emma exhibits all my worst character qualities, and she overcomes them. And does her best to mend what her mistakes have ruined. She gives me hope.

Favourite hero?

Well, I was about to say Thornton…never mind. I love the idea of Darcy, but only in the traditional sense that he is the quintessential fantasy of practically all women. My favorite characteristic about him is his quiet demeanor. I think I would work best with a quieter man, but I have yet to catch one, because I’m pretty sure I scare them. ANYWHO. As a hero, I think I like Knightley Mr. Knightley (POOH ON YOU AUGUSTA ELTON) best, or perhaps Tilney. I lovelovelove that Mr. Knightley is brutally honest, yet everlastingly patient with Emma. And Tilney? Well, he is so gentlemanly and polite and pleasant. (Also, how could anyone not love JJ Field?!)

 (That's Austenland, FYI. Another great Austen.)

What makes Jane Austen special to you?

One word: character. I love to read how each heroine grows and learns through the stories. Yes, there’s social commentary, and yes, there’s magnificent, sometimes heartrending love stories, but look at how people change in Austen’s works. Not only the heroines, but also the heroes. The protagonists use conflict—between themselves, among their families, with their society—to smooth their flaws and magnify their best qualities. And dare I wax even more eloquent, I venture to say that, if responded to correctly, conflict is what makes a good love story—or marriage—a great one.

What is your favourite adaption of a Jane Austen work?

Um. I have seen the adaptation of each book maybe once. No, I lie. I have seen the mainstream ones about once each, S&S (1995) twice, and I haven’t finished P&P (1995), but I’m working on it. And then there’s Pride & Prejudice (2005), which we’re currently on our 21st viewing, and I jest not. How do I count the ways I love thee… (Don’t even start the comparisons here, boys, ‘cause Mama Wolverine’s claws will come out and I will poke you.) It suffices to say that I am very defensive of this movie, because 1) it drew me to the books, and 2) sometimes you don’t have 6 hours to spare just to watch a good story.

Oh, the question was about my favorite adaptation. Okay, well, I love P&P (2005), but I think my favorite would be Persuasion (2007). It is so hard to watch Anne interact with Wentworth, and I love that the directors chose an actor who was not conventionally ‘beautiful’, which, of course, is in the correct spirit of the book.