Friday, December 21, 2007

How Much Do You Love Jane Austen?

By this time of year, I am looking forward to my favorite month, January. Oh, the splendors of that quiet, winter month filled with quality nothing time! I can't say enough good things about it.

This January has its own special pleasures to offer. On Sunday, January 13, PBS will begin broadcasting The Complete Jane Austen. Every Sunday until the first week in April, you can find something Austeny on your TV.

And look! Scully will be our host! Can January get any better?

Why, yes, it can.

On December 30 and January 6 PBS is rerunning an excellent version of Jane Eyre. I loved it the first time it was on.

Labels: ,

Monday, April 30, 2007

Do Teenagers Still Read Rebecca?

A great article in The Scotsman called Manderley Revisited deals with Daphne du Maurier, whose one hundredth birthday is coming up on May 13. The article suggests in a couple of places that Rebecca is a twist on Jane Eyre. I can see that. (Spoilers coming. You've been warned.) In Rebecca the unnamed Jane figure actually marries the Rochester figure and learns the secret of the first wife later. There's a fire, and the Jane figure becomes caretaker to the Rochester figure.

Now that it's been pointed out to me, I can see the parallels.

The writer of the article talks about reading Rebecca as a teenager. (At the time, I liked it more than I liked Jane Eyre.) These days, while I often read about Jane Eyre, I don't hear a lot about Rebecca. Unless, of course, the BBC has done a new production that is scooped up by Masterpiece Theatre.

I don't see the second Mrs. de Winter as being as powerful a figure as Jane Eyre, myself. But for teenage girls of a certain generation (or two or three) that was probably her attraction. We were not powerful figures and were delighted to see someone weak and meek like ourselves get the fellow and come out on top in the end. Though I do remember not envying the second Mrs. de Winter her ending. She seemed to be facing a lot of work to me. I have, I guess, always had a lazy streak.

I wonder if today's girls who are reading things like The Gossip Girl or Kiki Strike need to identify with a heroine so bland she doesn't have a name.

Thanks to Blog of a Bookslut for the link.

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 28, 2007

My Favorite Jane To Date

I just finished watching the first episode of the new Jane Eyre that's running right now on Masterpiece Theatre. I only became a Jane fan a few years ago when I reread the book after reading The Eyre Affair. Since then I've been making a hobby of watching film versions of Jane. I think this is the third, but I have to admit they can run together after a bit.

This version, though, is a standout. Other productions I've seen were pretty much just actors walking through parts. In this one, though, we see a little more about what's going on with the characters--not through dialogue, but just through the way the actors behave. You can see Jane falling in love with Rochester. You can see Rochester repulsed by the carryings on of Blanche Ingram and her family. You can see Rochester and Jane laughing at one another's jokes, enjoying one another's company.

The first part of Jane Eyre isn't my favorite part of the book. (Is it anyone's?) In fact, it almost seems to be a different story. But this television production links it to the romance at the core of the novel. When the Ingram family is carrying on about how awful governesses are, Jane flashes back to her evil aunt and the types of things she used to say to the young Jane. The Ingram abuse is nothing new to her.

Another thing--Jane draws, and in the book she draws sea scenes. This struck me as odd, because she had never been to the ocean. At the time we see her doing her drawings, she had never been away from the boarding school she attended. This film version takes care of that little drawback but, again, not with dialogue. We simply see Jane looking at illustrations in books. That's where she gets her knowledge of scenery she's never been near herself.

The weird gypsy scene from the book is revised here to make more sense. I know there are those who would say you shouldn't mess with a classic, but I do think this is an improvement on the original.

Rochester is probably too young and good looking in this production, but I'm definitely not going to complain about having to watch a youngish, good-looking guy.

I'm definitely looking forward to part two.