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.
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.
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!