Presenting “Austen Spoilers” Cartoon by John Atkinson

Austen Spoilers graphic by John of Wrong Hands

Isn’t it charming? And too true!

We had a hand in its creation. We loved this “Shakespeare Spoilers” cartoon so much when we saw it on Facebook recently. It made us laugh out loud. But wait. The Bard is just as clever, witty and engaging as our favorite English author Jane Austen. Shouldn’t she get equal billing?

We contacted the cartoonist John Atkinson and pitched another famous English author for his artistic consideration. He was game—and we are delighted with the results.

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Top Search Engine Questions Sent to Austenprose

David Bramber as the odious Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice (1995)

One of the great things about being the admin to a blog is that you get to read all of the interesting (and sometimes hilarious) questions that people ask search engines – and then land on your blog.

If you are wondering what this means, when key words or phrases match material on your blog, it shows up in the search engine results and people come to visit to discover the answer. Now, sometimes it sends them to us just based on key words and not complete answers, so they may be disappointed, or intrigued to find something altogether unexpected. Here are a few humdingers that either made us laugh out loud or yell an answer into cyberspace.

Q: Is Emma Woodhouse a likeable character?

A: Wow. That is a loaded question! Many say NO. That she is a troublesome, bossy, snob and not likeable at ALL. But that is Austen’s point. Before publication she admitted to creating “a heroine whom no one but myself will like.” Of course that is her self-effacing joke. Emma Woodhouse certainly is annoying and self-serving throughout 90% of the novel, but it is revealed in a comical and moralistic manner that many (including ourselves) consider entertaining and scholars deem a masterpiece. So, no. Emma is not likeable, but that’s why we like her.

Q: What does Dowager Duchess mean?

A: Dowager appears to be in the same category of mysterious archaic English words like entail. It is a title given the widow of a Duke in British aristocracy. The most famous Dowager on the radar of Downton Abbey fans is no doubt Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by Maggie Smith.

Q: Is fruitcake the same as Christmas pudding?

A: Heck no.

We do concede that both traditional English desserts share some similarities: butter, sugar, flour and dried fruit – but that is where it ends. Christmas pudding is a steamed cake and can be very dark, dense and sponge-like. It can have so much liquor in it that it flames when ignited before bringing it to the table. Fruit cake is a baked cake filled with fruits, nuts and liquor. Some recipes result in a sticky, gooey, dense brick. This may be why there is reputably only one fruitcake in the world and that it has been passed on to other family and friends and shipped around the world in continuum. Nasty rumor. We can attest that our fruitcake never lasts more than a week in our home.

Q: Does Elizabeth Bennet have pride?

A: No she is prejudiced. Mr. Darcy is proud. Wait. We can hear you all yelling at the screen. No, Mr. Darcy is prejudiced and Elizabeth is proud. It’s a source of constant debate among Janeites. Both characters exhibit both qualities. We’re just pitching my opinion.

Q: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies chapter summaries.

A: Really? *sigh* Are you asking this because your teacher is using P&P&Z in the classroom instead of P&P? Or, do you think that is the title of Jane Austen’s classic novel written in 1813? Either way, we are not helping you with your homework.

Q: Where is Mr. Knightley’s proposal?

A: Ha! Many have been looking for it for close to two hundred years. You obviously blinked during that part of the book.

Q: Parts where Catherine Morland is an idiot.

A: What? Who told you Catherine Morland is an idiot? Stop listening to your study partner. Let us paraphrase Henry Tilney and say “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good heroine, must be intolerably stupid.”

You have been misinformed. Catherine is not an idiot, she is just an inexperienced, naïve, and impressionable young lady of seventeen. If someone needs to be an idiot in Northanger Abbey, we will summarily point the finger at John Thorpe. Now there’s a young gentleman with more than a few loose screws.

Q: Is Hercule Poirot gay?

A: Who cares. He solves crimes using more gray matter in a day than the rest of use in a month, so he’s brilliant in our book.

Q: Is there a PBS series as great as Downton Abbey?

A: Yep – it’s called Pride and Prejudice – but, we are not heavily influenced by Jane Austen in the least.

Q: Does Emma Thompson play a role in Upstairs Downstairs season 2?

A: No, but we sure wish she did. She would have saved the series.

Q: Deep quotes from Pride and Prejudice.

A: As opposed to shallow quotes? Not saying.

Q: What type of audience would you give a presentation of Jane Austen to?

A: Besides the obvious Jane Austen fans, try a Friars club in Poughkeepsie. Everyone loves Jane Austen.

Q: Why Mr. Darcy falls in love with Elizabeth?

A: Many have asked. If we told you, it would spoil the book for you.

Q: What does Elizabeth Bennet mean by the phrase “till this moment I never knew myself.”?

A: Another “if we told you it would spoil the book for you” answer. Here’s a hint. If we could all have a breakthrough moment every day like Lizzie Bennet does after reading Mr. Darcy’s “Be not alarmed, madam” letter, the world would be a much better place.

Q: Mr. Collins quotes.

A: Seriously? People really want to quote the odious one? We find this highly amusing and annoying at the same time, which was pretty much Austen’s point in creating one of the most toadious and tiresome comedic characters in literature.

We will end on that low note and ask you, gentle readers, how you would answer the Google search question presented today?

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose  

Austenprose on Holiday!

All roads lead to Jane Austen (Chawton road sign)

Well, not really a holiday, but it sounds much better than telling you all that I am in the midst of moving to a new cottage here in the Pacific Northwest and my life is in transit right now. In this instance, we are in agreement with that buffoon Robert Ferrars…

“For my own part,” said he, “I am excessively fond of a cottage; there is always so much comfort, so much elegance about them. And I protest, if I had any money to spare, I should buy a little land and build one myself, within a short distance of London, where I might drive myself down at any time, and collect a few friends about me, and be happy. I advise everybody who is going to build, to build a cottage.” Robert Ferrars, Sense and Sensibility, Ch 36

I will have intermittent Internet for the next week or so dependent on when they can get my new service up and running. Even though my life is up in air at the moment, I would never forget my loyal readers and have scheduled posts to publish automatically at midnight over several days. We shall have blog tours by Mary Simonsen and Victoria Connelly, book reviews by Kimberley and a new addition to the review staff, Br. Paul, yep, a real Dominican friar who is a true Janeite, so it should be entertaining while I am away. You won’t even know I’m gone!!!

Just remember if you are new to the site and have not posted a comment before, you will be in the queue awaiting approval until I read it, so it might take a few days.

Everyone have a wonderful 4th of July weekend.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Mailbox Monday: The Elusive Jane Austen Bobble-head

Jane Austen bobble-headFor years I seriously thought that the Jane Austen bobble-head was a Janeite myth. I had never seen one in person, only “read” about them in my online travels. I once saw one listed in an eBay auction that went for an exorbitant final bid. Who would pay that much for a toy???

It became my Jane Austen Holy Grail. The ultimate Jane Austen accessory to add to my collection. I had to have it, so I patiently waited and watched and won one last week on eBay. She arrive in my mailbox today! Myth busted – and she is quite fetching indeed.

So who made this charming figure and why are they not available for sale? Further research on the Internet revealed that Greenwood Publishing Group gave them away at the ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) annual conference to publicize their mammoth edition of “All Things Austen” in 2005.

Now they can only be obtained second hand. The problem was, who the heck would want to give one up? Who indeed? Of all literary fans Janeites are quite passionate about their obsession.

So how did this beauty come to my attention? One advantage to having a blog about Jane Austen is that you can gush about her and her incredible mega-star-pop-culture status and people don’t think you’re nuts (well, only a little). I once listed the Jane Austen bobble-head on my Janeite Santa wish-list. It only took three years and six months for Santa to come through. (glad to know he is not entirely deaf to my whims) The seller actually alerted me to the auction and I was the winning bidder. Huzzah!

Jane now occupies a place of honor on my bookshelf right next to my complete set of Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen! *gloat*

Cheers, Laurel Ann

Friday Funnies: Pride and Prejudice and Dr. Who

LOL! The movie trailer of the 2005 Pride & Prejudice is a YouTube phenom. It has been mashed up into so many other movie combinations: Harry Potter, Sailor Moon, Robin Hood, Vampire Diaries, Star Wars, Anastasia, North and South, and hundreds of others, that it is mind boggling. Check out this hilarious mash-up of P&P and Dr. Who. Whatever will they think up next?

Happy Friday everyone. Break out the Austentini’s!

Play Along with Matches & Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale

Matches & Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale (2011)OK Janeites, it’s Saturday AND a holiday weekend. Let’s have some mindless fun with a Pride and Prejudice gaming action! This new sims-like game, Matches & Matrimony, created by Reflexive® Entertainment was released in February. According to online reviews at Gamezebo and by Janeite, Jennifer at The Bennet Sisters Blog, it is quite diverting, but the 2D images are quaintly paperdoll painful. The upside is that they use much of Jane Austen’s text verbatim (huzzah!), it requires a lot of reading (oh horrors!!!) and you have to answer questions posited by the characters (thinking? double horrors). I am of course being very cynical (big surprise) and actually think this rather a great way to introduce someone to Pride and Prejudice, or for an acolyte of Jane Austen to expend a few hours of harmless diversion in pleasant company. Here is the game description from its creator.

Take the starring role in Jane Austen’s most popular novels as you become one of the Bennet sisters in search of a husband. Will you pursue Mr. Bingley, whose good nature has already endeared him to your sister, or perhaps Mr. Darcy, the famous protagonist from Pride and Prejudice? The narrative of Matches & Matrimony comes from the combining of 3 different novels, allowing you to create new storylines from Miss Austen’s most famous works! As you play you, will pick your daily routine to improve your characteristics, and then select your own path through the intersecting stories. With 9 different endings to be discovered, Matches & Matrimony can be played again and again as you create your own tale of classic romance.

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Matches & Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale (2011)

  • 9 Different endings!
  • Hours of replayability!
  • 6 suitors to pursue!
  • 3 Novels in one game!
  • Thoughtful and Provocative gameplay!

Even better than the description, you can watch the game being played in fourteen parts by Michael at Big Fish Games on Youtube.

We admit to being a bit perplexed over who Hortensia Humperdink Walter III is and why Col. Brandon is in a P&P game, but throw up our hands in resignation and just go with it. You can also watch part two, and the rest of the segments online. Enjoy!

Happy Holiday everyone!

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Which Jane Austen Character Do You Most Indentify With?

Gentle Readers, Vic  from Jane Austen’s World and I both freely admit to being passionate Jane Austen fans, which tends to infiltrate our everyday world in ways that have us viewing friends and ourselves through Austen’s unique prism. Here is a bit of fun today for your amusement:

LA: Vic and I were chatting on the phone today. Over the course of our three plus year Austen-inspired friendship we have mostly emailed, so this was a treat. She has the most infectious laugh which made me laugh too. Of course we were talking about our favorite author and she remarked that Austen excelled at humor and the amazing secondary characters she developed. Somehow it just popped out and I boldly asked her what Jane Austen character she most identified with. Without hesitation she replied, Lady Russell from Persuasion. “Lady Russell?” I replied in surprise! “Well, yes.”

Jane Rus.., er, Mrs. Russell

She then revealed that she is often wrong about the advice she gives people. At work she gathers the young-uns around her and freely offers opinions, whether they are solicited or not. When she gives wrong counsel – which she admits is more often than not – she torpedos herself in a most spectacular fashion. “The error of my ways does not go unnoticed by this unforgiving crowd. Unlike Lady Russell, I will own up to a misteak, er, mistake or two, and apologize for having interfered, but I hold the line at groveling.”

Another reason why she identifies with this character is her independence. Lady Russell is a widow with a healthy income and she has no intention of remarrying and being subjugated by a man. “I am a divorced woman who has discovered the joys of living singly on my own terms and by my own schedule. Ah, what total, selfish bliss!”

Vic further admitted that at a party, or when she lets her hair loose, she starts to resemble Mrs. Jennings. You know the type: a bit vulgar, out for a good time, giggling at precisely the wrong moments, and making those with a more composed nature feel uncomfortable with crass jokes and loud language. “Like Mrs. Jennings, I have a good heart. But I can be out there and in your face too. I might seem unseemly to a quieter person like Elinor, and be totally disliked by the likes of a Marianne, but my friends and family get me, and that’s what counts.”

Oh Vic! You are such a card. Lady Russell and Mrs. Jennings? She then turned the tables on me. “Now, who do you identify with in Jane’s novels? Are you like me, a bossy and interfering carouser? Or are your a bit more sedate and ladylike?”

Harriet Smith (Tony Collette) patiently poses for Emma

Vic: “Sedate. A total Harriet Smith,” LA replied. Many years ago a dear Janeite friend tagged her as a Harriet to her Emma. “It seemed appropriate since I was often asking for advice and was very mailable to change.” In her view, Harriet was a bit of a ditz and gullible which she has been accused of too. The thing she liked about being a Harriet is that Austen gave her such a great ending. She is resilient, and after being tossed about in love no less than three times in a year, Harriet gets the man she wanted in the first place and proves Emma, with her self-important airs, was totally clueless about the human heart. “I like having the last laugh, and being right.” ;-)

Sir John Middleton (Robert Hardy) and Mrs. Jennings (Elizabeth Spriggs)

Lately LA thinks she has evolved into Sir John Middleton from Sense and Sensibility. He was the Dashwood’s cousin and landlord of Barton Cottage. He is very gracious and likes to pop in and make sure his tenants are comfortable and entertained. He is a bit of a bore and talks too much about things that are not of interest to his young companions, but he likes dogs, has a good heart and loves to laugh. “As an enthusiastic bookseller, I like to inform customers of their choices and make suggestions. I am also a bit of an organizer and enjoy planning events on my blog, and orchestrating the 23 authors in my anthology. It is like herding cats, but I like being the boss of my own world!”

One man’s ways may be as good as another’s, but we all like our own best. Persuasion, Ch 13

Now our question. Which Jane Austen character do you, estimable viewer, most identify with, or which character are you afraid of becoming? Feel free to leave your comments!

Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Stalk Jane Austen

Portrait of Jane Austen, by Rocco Fazzari from The Herald (2008)Gentle Readers: Here is a guest post with some Friday fun to get the weekend rolling early. Alyssa Palazzo is a young college student with a passion/obsession for our dear Jane. I thought her essay charming and very funny. Enjoy!

My friends think I have a problem.

I follow Jane Austen on Twitter.  I watch her house on Google Earth and note her every movement in my journal.  I have friend requested her 307 times on Facebook.  Last night, I checked to see what time she was leaving for the Connecticut Repertory Theater’s rendition of Pride and Prejudice.  Then I followed her there.  I keep my cupboard stocked with her favorite cereal brand in the hopes that one day her car will break down in front of my house and she will want breakfast.

Just kidding.  Jane Austen’s dead.  BUT, if she were alive, I would have absolutely no problem hiding under her bed and tracking her every movement.  After all, I’ve read the books, seen the movies, watched the plays, and enrolled myself in the Jane Austen class offered at UConn.  In order to defend my sanity I have composed a list of the top ten reasons I should stalk Jane Austen (or at least like the books.)

  1. Mr. Darcy, Mr. Knightley, and Edmund Bertram are the sexiest male protagonists of all time.  Enough said.
  2. Happy endings.  Every young lady ends up with exactly the right gentleman despite undergoing several trials and mix-ups.
  3. The heroines aren’t weak creatures who need to be saved.  Elizabeth Bennet treks through three miles of mud to visit her sick sister.  There is no fainting, swooning, or rescuing to be found – although it might be worth it to be saved by the sexiest male protagonist of all time.
  4. The characters suffer the consequences of their actions.  For example, when Charlotte Lucas marries for convenience, she has to spend the rest of her life rotting in the back room of her house while avoiding her idiotic and obsequious husband.  Harsh, but true.
  5. The luxurious settings.  Forget London.  Who wouldn’t want to live in Longbourn or Highbury amidst the ample fields and long country roads?  Especially when you live right down the lane from the sexiest male protagonist of all time.
  6. Best opening line ever:  “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”  Haha.  Get it?
  7. Austen does a fantastic job of mocking society.  The clergymen are foolish, the “accomplished” young ladies are dimwitted, and the main characters can be spoilt and headstrong.  This makes for a great book.
  8. It’s not all about romance.  The books incorporate human shortcomings, character flaws, and moral dilemmas, forcing the readers to think about human nature.
  9. Austen was one of the few female writers of her time, and better yet, she never married.  Way to stick it to the man.
  10. Have I mentioned the sexiest male protagonists of all time?!  I’m a Darcy girl myself, but trust me, there’s a man for every female reader in Austen’s novels.

Now that I’ve defended my sanity I’m off to read Mansfield Park.  Trust me, it never gets old.

Editor’s note: Isn’t it refreshing Janeites, that young people all over the world are reading Austen and getting it? This eloquent and observant analysis just made my day!

Author Bio:

Alyssa Palazzo is a 4th semester English major and Women’s Studies minor at the University of Connecticut.  Her latest work “Leaving the E-Herd for Face-to-Face Dating” was featured in the Hartford Courant.  When she is not stalking Jane Austen, she is working and blogging at UConn’s Long River Review.  You can follow her adventures at www.longriverreview.com

2007 – 2011 Alyssa Palazzo, Austenprose