Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Janeite Tag

Thanks to Hannah over at Miss Daydreamer's Place for tagging me to talk about my love for Jane Austen!

The Rules:
  • Thank and link back to the person who tagged you.
  • Tell us how you were introduced to Jane Austen and share one fun fact about your Janeite life (this fun fact can be anything from "I stayed up all night reading Emma" to "I visited Chawton and met Anna Chancellor.").
  • Answer the tagger's questions.
  • Write seven questions of your own.
  • Tag as few as one or as many as seven other Janeites and let them know you've tagged them.

My introduction to the world of Jane Austen:
It would be hard to pinpoint the exact moment I became a fan of Austen, but it was sometime between when I first saw the 1995 Pride and Prejudice when I was about eleven, and when I finished reading all her books for the first time, when I was about eighteen. It was probably closer to the latter though, because even though I would watch P&P with my family every time they watched it, it took a while for me to come to appreciate anything more than the pretty dresses and the pretty horses. It could have been in '08, when the new version of Sense and Sensibility aired on TV, and waiting a week between episodes was filled with impatience. Or you could argue that it was when I first appreciated Austen's work in it's purest form; perhaps when I was at the end of Emma and it suddenly occurred to me how much I'd enjoyed the book -- way more than either of the film adaptions. To quote Lizzy on her loving Darcy, "It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberly." So I guess you could say it really was the pretty dresses!

My fun fact about me and Austen: 
This past summer I portrayed Mary Bennet in my theatre group's performance of Pride and Prejudice, a Musical. I got to sing and play the piano badly and everything. And now I feel slightly more connected to and understanding of poor Mary.

Hannah's Questions:
What is your favourite Jane Austen novel?
Oh, starting with a hard one, I see. I remember enjoying reading Emma the most, but I wouldn't take that to mean it was my favorite. Northanger Abbey made me laugh the most, and Persuasion was wonderfully melancholy. But I think I'll have to go with the classic, and say Pride and Prejudice. It has a little of everything, and I think the best romance.

Who is your favourite Austen hero and heroine? (I guess that could be considered two questions!) So since it's two questions, I can pick a hero and heroine who hail from separate stories? If I had to choose them as a pair, I'd say Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney. They are just so adorable together. Separately, I've always been partial to Mr. Knightley, and identified most with Elinor Dashwood. But don't underestimate my liking of Lizzy and Darcy, separately, and as a pair.

Who is your favourite secondary character?
It's funny how most of Austen's secondary characters are usually pretty dis-likable, isn't it? I could never really find it in me to dislike Mr. Churchill though, ever since I first saw him as Ewan McGregor with that adorable smile and that weird, long red hair.

Which relative of any of Austen's heroines/heroes do you find most annoying?
Mrs. Bennet. Next question! Oh, wait, maybe Lady Catherine... hmmm, no, I'll stick with Mrs. Bennet.

Provide up to five of your favourite Austen quotes. (I know, hard! Just pick a few random quotes that you love. They don't have to be your absolute favourites) (Passages, more like, for me!)

  1. (A hilarious conversation between Catherine and Henry in Northanger Abbey.)‘“Now I must give one smirk, and then we may be rational again." Catherine turned away her head, not knowing whether she might venture to laugh. "I see what you think of me," said he gravely -- "I shall make but a poor figure in your journal tomorrow."
    "My journal!"
    "Yes, I know exactly what you will say: Friday, went to the Lower Rooms; wore my sprigged muslin robe with blue trimmings -- plain black shoes -- appeared to much advantage; but was strangely harassed by a queer, half-witted man, who would make me dance with him, and distressed me by his nonsense." 
    "Indeed I shall say no such thing." 
    "Shall I tell you what you ought to say?" 
    "If you please." 
    "I danced with a very agreeable young man, introduced by Mr. King; had a great deal of conversation with him -- seems a most extraordinary genius -- hope I may know more of him. That, madam, is what I wish you to say."’
  2.  (My admitting to liking this one might make me out to be anti-social, but, oh well. Said by Lizzy.) "The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense."
  3. (This one from Mr. Bennet reflects the lighter side of my anti-social tendencies.) "For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?"
  4. (This is one of my favorite moments of Elinor's.)"My dear," said she [Mrs. Jennings], entering, "I have just recollected that I have some of the finest old Constantia wine in the house, that ever was tasted -- so I have brought a glass of it for your sister. My poor husband! how fond he was of it! Whenever he had a touch of his old cholicky gout, he said it did him more good than anything else in the world. Do take it to your sister."
    "Dear ma'am," replied Elinor, smiling at the difference of the complaints for which it was recommended, "how good you are! But I have just left Marianne in bed, and, I hope, almost asleep; and as I think nothing will be of so much service to her as rest, if you will give me leave, I will drink the wine myself."
    Mrs. Jennings, though regretting that she had not been five minutes earlier, was satisfied with the compromise; and Elinor, as she swallowed the chief of it, reflected that, though its good effects on a cholicky gout were at present of little importance to her, its healing powers on a disappointed heart might be as reasonably tried on herself as on her sister.
  5. (And since I've already made this very, very long, I'll put Mr. Knightly's declaration of love last. Not the entire thing though. But I like the entire thing.) “My dearest Emma," said he, "for dearest you will always be, whatever the event of this hour's conversation, my dearest, most beloved Emma -- tell me at once. Say 'No,' if it is to be said." She could really say nothing. "You are silent," he cried, with great animation; "absolutely silent! at present I ask no more."
    Emma was almost ready to sink under the agitation of this moment. The dread of being awakened from the happiest dream, was perhaps the most prominent feeling.
    "I cannot make speeches, Emma," he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing. "If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am. You hear nothing but truth from me. I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it.”

What is your favourite adaptation for each of Austen's books?
For Pride and Prejudice, the '95 version. Hands down, no contest. (If you're interested, here is my review of the '95, and my review of the '05.)

Northanger Abbey is also easy, since I've only ever seen the '07 version with Felicity Jones and J J Feild. In spite of it's shortness, I consider it to be a very good adaption, perfectly cast at the very least. With the rest though, things get a little more complicated. (Click here for my review.)

For Sense and Sensibility, the '08 version. It's a close call though, as the '95 version is great as well, but the longer runtime, the casting of people who look like they could be their required age, the great casting of the side characters, Dan Stevens, and David Morressey all make me partial to that version.

With Emma, there are commendable aspects in three versions, but I've never really included Kate Beckinsale's version; the race is really between Gwyneth Paltrow's and Romola Garai's, and they're practically equal, only with differing good parts and bad parts. Combined, they would be nearly perfect, but as it is, I think I must go with Paltrow's version, because it's better-made in its own right.

For Mansfield Park, I have to say the '07 version with Billie Piper. None of these adaptations are very good, but the 1999 is just way too different from the book, and the 1983 is old and of low quality had distractingly ugly actors. Plus the '07 has James D'Arcy in it.

With Persuasion it's halfway like Emma -- if I could combine the versions it would make a good one -- and halfway like Mansfield Park -- there really aren't any good versions. The '95 version is certainly the best adaptation, but it doesn't have the heart (however misguided) of the '07 version. Neither does the characters how I see them. (Click here for my review of the '07 version. But know that my opinion of since writing this has dampened slightly.)

Are there any books that you would recommend to a fellow Janeite? For example: some books that I would recommend to a fellow Jane Austen fan are Much Ado About Nothing, North and South and Cold Comfort Farm. 
Oh yes, I definitely agree with the recommendation of North and South. Great book and film adaptation. If you can handle longer and darker, I would recommend Little Dorrit, which was amazing, and more romantic than I expected it to be. (And it has a fantastic, 8-hour-long film adaptation too (my review)) And perhaps if I'd read other Dickens' I could possibly recommend those, of maybe a Bronte, but sadly Austen is just about as far as I've gone with that type of novel. The next closest thing that springs to mind is The Great Gatsby, but I'd recommend that to anyone. If you like the Austen-type movies though, you absolutely must see Cranford -- it's wonderful.

Little Dorrit

It seems that all my Janeite blog friends have been tagged already, I'm going to opt out of the last two steps. However, if you do love Austen, haven't been tagged yet, and want to participate, you absolutely should -- consider yourself tagged and answer the same questions I did!


  1. Well I'm certainly glad I tagged you! :D I really enjoyed your comments :)

    Tallulah Riley's Mary Bennet is my favourite - although I'm sure you were great! :) I think Riley portrayed the character very sympathetically which I liked. I've always felt sorry for poor Mary! And she was plainer than the other Bennet girls but certainly not ugly.

    Pride and Prejudice was the first Austen I read and it's still my favourite. It's a flawless masterpiece of a novel. Even Sheldon Cooper thinks so! :D

    Yes, you can definitely have a favourite hero and heroine from separate stories! My favourite hero is Henry Tilney and my favourite heroine is Elizabeth Bennet.

    North and South is a *fantastic* book and I love the 2004 miniseries so much that I actually think that it's just as good! I haven't read or watched Little Dorrit yet. It's on my "long-term" reading list but I think I'm going to have to read it a lot sooner now. That's a really good call with The Great Gatsby actually! It's not the first book that would come into my head when I think "Jane Austen-esque" but then Austen and Fitzgerald do have that similar distaste for the world around them I think, that snarky social commentary.

    1. I'm glad you tagged me too! Thanks! I enjoyed discovering all my answers. :)

      Yeah, even though I'm not a fan of the 05 P&P, I love Talulah Riley's Mary. She did a great job developing the character with very little screen time.

      It was the first I read too, and it is, it really is. Haha!

      I thought so, but I still had a hard time choosing. I love Elizabeth too! And I'm also one of the only people I know who understands Fanny Price. My friends mostly think she's annoying, but she makes sense to me. I should figure out exactly why... I couldn't ever call her my favorite though I think.

      Yeah, North and South is one we watch on rotation with all our favorite Austens... and also Cranford. And I liked Little Dorrit a lot more than I was expecting to! I watched it, then had to read it immediately after, and since I finished I've been wanting to watch it again, but it's hard to fit it in with how long it is. :P You're right, I didn't think of that, but I knew they were similar in some way. And that's exactly why I like them so much. :D

  2. I used to really dislike the 2005 version but over the past year or so it's seriously grown on me. Now I actually enjoy it! There are still certain things about it that I find annoying but for me the positives outweigh the negatives. I know it's a polarising adaptation though so I'm not going to try to change your mind!

    Mansfield Park is definitely my least favourite JA novel but it's not because I have a problem with Fanny, which seem to be the reason why most people dislike it. I have quite a lot of respect for Fanny and I feel really sorry for her. And she stays true to herself and her principles. She isn't blinded by a pretty face unlike *some* people that I could mention (coughEdmundBertramcoughcough) But at the same time Fanny is still my least favourite JA heroine because she doesn't seem to have a sense of humour. Elinor and Anne might be quiet and reserved but they're still witty. I don't think we're ever really going to get a satisfactory MP adaptation I'm afraid. If they make it faithful to the book and have Fanny portrayed accurately then you'll get a lot of viewers complaining that she's boring and passive and whatnot. And if they change Fanny's character like the 1999 and 2007 adaptations then the book fans will be upset. They can't really win.

    1. Yeah, there are some thing about the '05 that really are great -- awesome little details and such and the music is lovely, but unfortunately for me the negatives far outweigh the positives. It's very disappointing.

      That is the reason the people in know who dislike it dislike it, I believe. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but that makes sense. Honestly, I think she's my least favorite too, but I still like her, and because she gets so much abuse from other fans I always feel like defending her and making sure everyone knows that I do like her. :)

      I'm afraid you might be right about the film adaptation problem too. Still, they can certainly do a lot better than what has already been done, so they should keep trying! :D