21/03/2009

A BIT OF JANE


"The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love."— Jane Austen in Sense and Sensibility


I really can't say when and why my devoted admiration for Jane - her strong-willed personality, her skillful pen, her extraordinary wit and irony - began ... I'm only aware that it started very early, at first "reading", with PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, at 14
I loved her heroines and daydreamt her heroes, wished to be back in time but also to meet those extremely polite gentlemen in my real life. I had a naive, romantic, a bit childish, vision of that world. Then I studied and re-read Jane's works at university and got to a more mature point view . To explain the difference between the first and second phase of my devotion, I might describe my "young" perception of Austen's world as a "BECOMING JANE" vision while the grown-up catch is more a "MISS AUSTEN REGRETS" vision.



THE "BECOMING JANE" OUTLOOK


Becoming Jane is a 2007 historical film directed by Julian Jarrold. It is inspired by Jane Austen’s (American actress Anne Hathaway) early life, and her posited relationship with Thomas Langlois Lefroy (Scottish actor James McAvoy). Although the film assumes an otherwise unproven relationship between Austen and Lefroy, the original screenplay was inspired by real events which were chronicled in the book Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence, who was the historical consultant on the film. In fact, prior to Spence’s book, biographers Radovici (1995) and Tomalin (2000) have also acknowledged a relationship between Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy.

Jane and Tom’s love story has been emphasised and fictionalised to work as the plot of a modern costume film. Jane doesn't accept a marriage of convenience and wants to live on her pen but gets involved in a romantic affair with Tom and even accepts to elope with him.


Anyway, to get into the core of Jane's real temper you'd better have a look at Jane Austen's Letters and at this site about the people in Jane Austen's life (Tom Lefroy) . You can even like "Becoming Jane" ( I do) but never recognize the real Jane in that romance.
Have a look at this rather sceptical review , for example. CLICK HERE.

THE GROWN-UP OUTLOOK: MISS AUSTEN REGRETS




Based on the life and letters of Jane Austen, Miss Austen Regrets tells the story of her final years, examining why, despite setting the standard for romantic fiction, she died having never married or met her own Mr. Darcy.
This is one of the most realistic film portraits of Jane Austen, at least the closest to what we really know about her, since it is tightly based on the few letters left to her sister Cassandra and to her young niece Fanny .
Everybody knows Jane Austen never married and this good biographical TV movie wonders whether she minded - how this spinster lady felt about the absence of a real Mr Darcy in her life.



The story is based on the fact that Jane Austen did receive a proposal of marriage from a wealthy young neighbour. And she accepted! She actually said yes to him - until after a long night of discussion with her sister Cassandra, she changed her mind. This intriguing decision inspired the story of "Miss Austen Regrets".
I especially appreciate the intelligent truthful look at Austen's life of this BBC Drama. It is, of course, one of my favourites in my dvd collection.
By the way ... what I always try to convey to my students, introducing Jane Austen's novels to them, is ... the idea that they are not going to deal with "romance-like stuff" . Jane Austen's world is other than that. She is a master of irony and watching her world through her smart eyes, we can perceive her disanchanted vision of a man/woman possible relationship: reading carefully through her novels, you realize she's absolutey unsentimental and deeply aware of her sex's secondary role in that man-centred society. What she did not do was to give in, to accept her destiny silently. She wrote and she reveiled her disappointment, through her ironic stingy criticism , to whole generations of thankful readers.
Surfing the Net in search for interesting materials or books about one of my best-loved writers, I've found this post you MUST read - "Run mad as often as you chuse, but do not faint" . It is in a very good blog about books, movies, dvds. If you want to have a look at it , click here: "In Training For a Heroine".


What about you? Which one of the two outlooks on Jane's personality do you prefer? Which of the two film portraits do you think is more similar to the "original"?

P.S. The flight goes on. Enjoy it!












5 comments:

Mo said...

As relevant today as when it was first written

MARIA GRAZIA said...

I'm afraid your comment sounds rather criptic, Mo. What do you exactly refer to? Thanks for passing by, anyway. And, again, congratulation for your blog!

Anonymous said...

Fare il ritratto di una donna è molto difficile.
Julian Jarrold ci riesce molto bene.
Complimenti per il post e per il blog.

Ana T. said...

I really enjoyed reading your post. Between the two I must say I also prefer Miss Austen Regrets to Becoming Jane, the latter seems too much of a fantasy... I wonder if any other movie will be made about Jane Austen and if they could approach an angle other than her potential love life...

Anonymous said...

Fanny must be the same Fanny of park.