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.
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.
For 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*
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.
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!
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.”
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?”
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.” ;-)
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!
Not only is signer-songwritter-author Rosanne Cash best friends with actress Jennifer Ehle (Lizzy Bennet in another life), but she is a wicked Jane Austen channeler on Twitter. Here are some of her tweets in Austenesque fashion during the Super Bowl yesterday.
Regarding the Legume Chorale, it grieves me to note that the spectacle exceeds the musicality.
Some ladies are determined to sport bonnets made of cheese. I must take to my bed.
The manly vigor is indeed impressive, but I don’t have the pleasure of understanding the purpose.
One hopes the unfortunate incident involving the lady’s corset is not repeated on this occasion.
The gentleman in the stripes? A known blackguard! I send no compliments to his mother.
There is a uniformity of ill-favor in the appearance of the spectators. Who are their families? Tradesmen, surely.
Word arrives that there will be a longish pause midway through the event. One hopes to be excessively diverted.
Such lust for possession of an inanimate object so entirely lacking in aesthetic merit does not bode well.
Are they to be murdered on the field?! Such an ill-advised display of manhood is indeed alarming.
The proscribed repast is an abomination! Could we not conceive of a tea more pleasing and refined?
She is the very talented American singer-song writer, author and eldest daughter of of the late country music singer Johnny Cash and his first wife, Vivian Liberto Cash Distin. Passionate Twitterer, she occasionally channels our Jane to much hilarity and acclaim. Bravo Rosanne. Janeites everywhere salute you for your conceited independence and unruly impertinence. Her new biography Composed: A Memoir was released last August to rave reviews.
A new website on the block is The Jane Austen Digital Library. Created by Kristin Whitman, a student in the Masters of Library and Information Science at Rutgers University, it includes a collection of free resources on the web related to Jane Austen, her works, her life and socio-cultural impact. The main page is The Jane Austen Search Engine, a starting point for Jane Austen researchers including: digital online texts of her works, critical analysis, online discussion and yep, Austen related blogs. Kristin attempts to disarm reproof from her fellow academics and other skeptics for including blogs with this disclaimer:
The decision to include fan generated content and personal webpages related to Jane Austen in this search engine was not an easy one. It is not my desire to direct young students interested in Jane Austen to materials on the web which may not offer completely reliable information. However, I feel that the fan content about Austen on the web has value from a sociological, cultural, and historical perspective, and those wishing to study the recent explosion of interest in Austen’s life and works will also find it useful to search through the materials generated by Austen fans in our modern internet age. The inclusion of a page in the Jane Austen index is not an endorsement of the quality of the factual information on that page.
Hate to pull you out of your ivory tower, but academics get it wrong sometimes too. However, in the spirit of Her Janeness we will secretly smile and acknowledge that we now know what it feels like to be a lab rat in the sociological, cultural and historical realm of the Jane Austen blog-o-sphere. Since Austen fans are known for their sense of humor we can only throw up are hands and exclaim, “What a good joke it will be! I can hardly write for laughing.” We feel honored that Austenprose’s RSS feed is featured prominently on the main page and now must really watch our P’s & Q’s since we could be being monitered by academics in a case study. ;-) Can we be graded on a curve?
The talented artist Kate Beaton is at it again – doodling hysterical Jane Austen comics for our amusement. She seems to always have a knowing eye and the pulse on the latest Jane in-jokes. Visit her website Hark! A Vagrant and check out the Jane Austen archive. Oh, and happy Sunday. My favorite day of the week because it is my Saturday.
After years as a bookseller at Barnes and Noble, very, very little surprises me. Working with the public has its charms and delights *cough* but for the most part 99% of my customers are fabulous, very appreciative of my help and excited about the inventory that is stocked in my store. Every bookseller has a favorite story to tell about the most outrageous request for a book or the kid that threw up on them. (My recent customer from hell was an indignant woman who expected me to be able to find a new release with feet binding in the story, but did not know the title, author or if it was fiction or nonfiction.) Last week one of my assistant managers found a pair of men’s underwear draped over the SAT books. Not sure if this was a personal statement about our educational system or a performance art project gone awry, but we all looked at her in horror as she stuffed the tighty whities in the trash. They were definitely not going in the lost and found!
To be a great bookseller you need to know a little about everything and hopefully a lot about a few things. Most of the staff know that I am a Jane Austen enthusiast and enjoy channeling customers my way with the most obscure Austen book questions like, “Do you know that book with Mr. Darcy in the title?” or “I need Pride and Pestilence by Jane Eyre.” One of my favorite stories to tell happened two years ago when The Complete Jane Austen was airing on Masterpiece Classic. I wrote about it at the time and you can read the story again here. (it is at the bottom of the post) But tonight, I had another Austen moment at work that just might surpass it.
A gentleman who looked to be in his sixties asked me where the romance novels were. I escorted him to the section and offered help which he declined. Usually, I do not have a lot of male customers asking for romance titles unless they have a list from their wife or girlfriend. I know that may sound like stereotyping, but when it comes to book buying, people’s taste and interests can often be pigeonholed that way. A few moments later the gentleman re-appeared at the information desk and asked me who the author of Jane Bites Back was? (the new paranormal Jane Austen novel) Having just read and reviewed it myself, I was able to tell him right off the top of my head that the author was Michael Thomas Ford.
Impressed with my authority and confidence in the book, he shared that it was the funniest book he had read in years and wanted to read the next one. I hesitated to reply. I knew the answer was that it had not yet been published but was so taken aback with his choice in reading that I stared at him blankly until I could regain my composure, all the while secretly smiling and thinking to myself, boy, you just can’t judge a book by its cover. I would never have pegged him as a Jane Austen is a vampire novel reader. When I told him that the first book had just been published two weeks ago and that he might have to wait another year for the second in the series, his face fell. “Another year?” he replied. “Jane deserves better.”
So, Michael Thomas Ford. You better sharpen your quill and get crackin. Your public awaits.
Gentle Readers: Today is the anniversary of Jane Austen’s death at Winchester in 1817. She was only 41 years old, succumbing to what most believe was Addison’s disease. Here is my tribute to her passing In Memoriam: Jane Austen.
Even though this is a day of solemn reflection for Janeites, it is also a day to pay homage and respect to a talented lady who has brought us so much amusement and happiness for close to two hundred years. It is quite amazing to see all of the many editions of her books in print and numerous movie adaptations available today. She has indeed reached pop icon status. In reverence to her genius and in defense of her honor, I offer this parable for your edification and enjoyment.
There is an ancient tale told by a succession of vergers at Winchester Cathedral that a faint apparition of Jane Austen has been known to appear above her gravestone at midnight on the anniversary of her death. Witnesses have claimed that at times she appears quite happy and content, and at others, most seriously displeased. In the past, these unsettling visitations have coincided with certain events surrounding the actions of her family or admirers. In 1870, the year her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh published a memoir of his aunt, all the votive candles in the nave were simultaneously extinguished. When several of her letters were put up for auction by the Knathcbull family in 1893 the pews rattled, dislodging the hymnals. In 2007 with the release of the bio-pic Becoming Jane, the brass plaque erected in her honor mysteriously tarnished black overnight. With the recent announcement of the book Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, a new tale of romance, heartbreak, and tentacled mayhem, I shudder to think what her reaction will be to this blatant bastardization of her novel.
One of the main reasons I admire Jane Austen is her droll sense of humor. I am a proud card carrying member of The Gentle Reprove and Witty Banter Society. I dearly love to laugh and enjoy a good parody more than most. As an Austen enthusiast, I am happy to see her works reinterpreted for a new generation in a light-hearted and humorous way. I was one of the first bloggers to take up the banner and promote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. My review reflects my tongue-in-cheek reaction. The quirky and hilarious mini-series Lost in Austenwas also a surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed. I must, however, draw the line of propriety when the editor of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters thinks it would be “really funny to desecrate a classic work of literature.“ This new novel combines 60% of Austen’s original text with 40% all-new scenes of giant lobsters, rampaging octopi, two-headed sea serpents, and other biological monstrosities. A satiric parody is one thing. Total desecration is another. This has gone far beyond making “sport for our neighbors and laughing at them in our turn.” It is slap in the face to all dead authors who can not defend themselves from greedy publishers acting like naughty school children doodling mustaches and blacking out teeth over their portraits.
Abominable! Is civility dead? I say badly done Quirk Books. We are not amused, and we doubt very much that Jane Austen is either.