Confessions of a Janeite

i do not own this imageI haven’t read Austen for a while…

Emma
and Mansfield Park sit in their box alongside their companions, unread. That must be fixed. I haven’t acknowledged my love for Jane Austen for a while, and so this post is wholly dedicated to her.

Jane Austen inspired so much fanfiction (so much of it published! :)) and has gathered a large following, with the term Janeitism coined to define this idolatry. Her work includes the six famed novels, a piece of short fiction, two unfinished books and an array of less famous collections of poems, stories, plays. She led a fairly short and, as I am led to believe, not very happy life. I love that Jane Austen is widely celebrated to this day because she deserves it all.

Besides reading her own work, I’d like to read about her. Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin is an old resident of my Goodreads TBR list. I read Tomalin’s biography of Charles Dickens and found it to be an excellently composed work. I have high hopes for Austen’s bio.

Short term solutions for getting to know the real Jane come in the form of cinematic adaptations. Becoming Jane (2007) explores Austen’s relationship with a student of the law and later judge, Thomas Lefroy. Jane is played by my beloved Anne Hathaway and Lefroy — by the ever-charming James McAvoy. Other honourable cast includes Julie Walters, Maggie Smith, and James Cromwell (you may not know him by name, but I assure you, you’ve seen him). Another film I haven’t seen is Miss Austen Regrets (2008). I’ve heard positive reviews. In this one Olivia Williams becomes Jane Austen (with a bonus of Tom Hiddleston, as IMDB faithfully informs me). While the Hathaway version presents a younger Jane, this version focuses on her later life as the title somewhat suggests. I have to get my hands on it.

I should also mention my favourite movie adaptations of her novels. Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice (2005) beats them all. Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen are the best on-screen Lizzy/Darcy duo (in my humble opinion)! I also love the film version of Sense and Sensibility, featuring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet as the Dashwood sisters. I do like the 2007 Masterpiece movie of Northanger Abbey, as well. This one casts Felicity Jones as Catherine and JJ Feild as Mr. Tilney. I know the other three novels have several adaptations, but I haven’t found any I enjoyed. Recommendations?

Continuing in the cinematic sphere, there are a couple of movies which are by-products of Janeitism. Lost in Austen (2008) and Austenland (2013). I haven’t seen the latter, but the former is a fun and lighthearted time-waster movie, as I like to call them.

I am a moderate Janeite, not yet reaching the point of blind fanaticism. I do not participate in Austen-themed tea parties, Regency-costumed readings, or reenactments. Would I like to? Maybe, just a little…

While browsing the infinite Internet, I found this and fell in love with it:

i do not own this image

Further browsing discovered this for me. I want it! The quote it from Persuasion, which goes “I am half agony, half hope.” I adore it.

i do not own this image

I even found evidence of a Jane Austen action figure, at which point I became concerned about the cult-like state of the fandom. “Trekkies collect action figures!” I breathed in indignation. But a tiny part of me really wanted that figurine clad in plastic muslin and accompanied by a writing desk. A writing desk!

A plain Google-search brings up pages and pages of Austen paraphernalia. Pillows embroidered with quotations, gorgeous cameos, Janeite cakes crafted by some awesome hands, fanart, t-shirts, memes, and whatever else. It reminded me of a little book I saw at Indigo, called Jane-a-Day. The front cover claims to be a “5-year journal with 365 witticisms by Jane Austen”. I don’t really know how that works…

All of this is evidence of how much people love Jane Austen. And I love that.

from Wikipedia

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2 responses to “Confessions of a Janeite

  1. I’ve read Tomalin’s Austen biography. I wouldn’t have said she led an unhappy life? At least, I don’t interpret what I’ve read that way. If I recall, she was remembered as one who laughed often. She grew up in a rollicking family that supported her love of writing. Maybe as that family faded away she grew darker (example, the move to Bath, her father’s death, etc.), but I’ve read that she maintained a sense of sardonic humor throughout. She wrote a poem on her death bed.

    I can’t recall all of the details though. To me she seems bright, aware, and laughing. 🙂 Love this post — and I adore the Sense & Sensibility adaption!

    • Thanks for your insightful comment! I guess I should have checked my information first. 🙂 That’s pleasant to know, though. Thank you. And the S&S film is fantastic — I think it’s time to revisit it! 😀

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