Tuesday, December 4, 2012

One Shelf At A Time: Austeniana

Melissa Wiley has been taking photos of sections of her bookshelves and invited folks to play along.  So, here's a view of the most fun shelf in my campus office, right after the real Austen texts and scholarship.  These are fun things I take to class to demonstrate a bit of the wide range of Jane Austen spin-off products available in the universe (and if you want to be thoroughly amused, search "Jane Austen Soap" on Etsy). 

Left-to-right:

12 comments:

Melissa Wiley said...

Mmm, I love it! It's even better than my own Austen shelf. That could be because I have a 17yo daughter who regularly raids my Austen shelf, leaving it markedly Austen-less.

At Wondercon last year there was a booth full of literary t-shirts with an alphabet theme---"S is for Shakespeare" and so forth. Of course I had to buy my girl a J is for Jane shirt, with a drawing of Miss Austen front and center.

So glad you played along!

Fanny Harville said...

Love those shirts! And a 17-year-old girl must have her own Austen shelf, however she gets it. I'm sure that's a truth universally acknowledged.

Megan D. Neal said...

What made that version of Sense and Sensibility annoying?

Fanny Harville said...

Megan, I think it's basically a blatant rip-off of the gorgeous Ang Lee/Emma Thompson film version (which I love, even though it romanticizes this dark novel rather shamelessly), with added cheaply salacious scenes of Willoughby having sex with a mysterious someone in the beginning. Some of the dialogue -- as well as the very look of some of the characters -- owes more to the previous film than it does to the book. I'm not a stickler for accuracy in filmed versions of Austen (I love Patricia Rozema's Mansfield Park, though it departs shockingly from the book), but I want to see originality of vision and interpretation. At this point, so many films have been made of Austen's novels that originality is probably quite a tall order, however.

Megan D. Neal said...

As an Austen scholar, what's your opinion of the trend of other authors using Austen's characters and expanding on her stories? I tend to be irritated with the whole trend, which is, perhaps, the wrong attitude to have, but I wasn't impressed at all with the two I tried. I guess I want my Austen pure, from the source, and feel like other authors using her characters is stealing. And I have no problem, despite my love of her characters and wishing the books wouldn't end, with the fact that they do end.

Fanny Harville said...

Megan, I personally find them cringe-worthy and unreadable, but the fact that people keep writing these sorts of things (and that some people like to read them) is really interesting. What is it about Austen, or the way some people read Austen, that makes her books especially appealing for these kinds of appropriations? Of course people do things like this with other works (Michael Cunningham's The Hours makes use of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, just to name one example), but Austen seems to offer an inexaustible source for retellings and riffs. I like the comments of Deidre Lynch and Brad Pasanek on this topic in this New York Times piece on the Austen-and-vampires trend from a few years ago.

Jane's Fame by Clare Harmon and Jane Austen's Cults and Cultures by Claudia L. Johnson offer compelling accounts of the history of Austen's works, spin-offs, etc.

Momand Kiddo said...

I agree re: Clueless. I also must admit I thoroughly enjoyed "Lost in Austen." Personally I hate those books that expand on Austen's characters, but I really, really, really love Georgette Heyer.

There are also some JA trends in YA lit right now. For Darkness Shows the Stars was a take on the Persuasion story, for example.

Fanny Harville said...

I didn't know about Darkness Shows the Stars, so I look forward to checking it out. It makes both thematic and commercial sense that there would be JA trends in YA lit.

Momand Kiddo said...

You might be interested in this blog which has reviewed a number of JA adaptions for the youth market. http://fromja2ya.wordpress.com/

Erica MomandKiddo said...

I thought of you when I came across the Lizzie Bennet Diaries: http://www.lizziebennet.com I haven't watched all the videos yet, but I think it's quite clever and well done, actually, especially from a theatrical viewpoint.

Fanny Harville said...

I watched a bit of the first one a while ago and I agree that they are quite well done! Thanks for sending!

Fanny Harville said...

I just read this interesting analysis of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries here: http://msmagazine.com/blog/2013/03/06/of-jane-austen-the-bennet-sisters-and-vawa/