Log in

No account? Create an account
16 December 2009 @ 02:30 pm
speaking of Austenian titles  
Well, oh snap, Laurie Kaplan.
"Adapting Emma for the Twenty-first Century: An Emma No One Will Like"


(Incidentally, I decided that if I were going to name a book of excerpts of Austen criticism, I would probably call it Pleasure in a Good Novel. Because...yeah. Me + HT 4-ever.)

It is Jane Austen's birthday today. So--in keeping with the theme already established--here is the text of the last chapter of Northanger Abbey, which is utterly delightful in the way it plays around with novelistic convention and even the materiality of the book:

Mr. and Mrs. Morland’s surprise on being applied to by Mr. Tilney for their consent to his marrying their daughter was, for a few minutes, considerable, it having never entered their heads to suspect an attachment on either side; but as nothing, after all, could be more natural than Catherine’s being beloved, they soon learnt to consider it with only the happy agitation of gratified pride, and, as far as they alone were concerned, had not a single objection to start. His pleasing manners and good sense were self–evident recommendations; and having never heard evil of him, it was not their way to suppose any evil could be told. Goodwill supplying the place of experience, his character needed no attestation. “Catherine would make a sad, heedless young housekeeper to be sure,” was her mother’s foreboding remark; but quick was the consolation of there being nothing like practice.

There was but one obstacle, in short, to be mentioned; but till that one was removed, it must be impossible for them to sanction the engagement. Their tempers were mild, but their principles were steady, and while his parent so expressly forbade the connection, they could not allow themselves to encourage it. That the general should come forward to solicit the alliance, or that he should even very heartily approve it, they were not refined enough to make any parading stipulation; but the decent appearance of consent must be yielded, and that once obtained — and their own hearts made them trust that it could not be very long denied — their willing approbation was instantly to follow. His consent was all that they wished for. They were no more inclined than entitled to demand his money. Of a very considerable fortune, his son was, by marriage settlements, eventually secure; his present income was an income of independence and comfort, and under every pecuniary view, it was a match beyond the claims of their daughter.

The young people could not be surprised at a decision like this. They felt and they deplored — but they could not resent it; and they parted, endeavouring to hope that such a change in the general, as each believed almost impossible, might speedily take place, to unite them again in the fullness of privileged affection. Henry returned to what was now his only home, to watch over his young plantations, and extend his improvements for her sake, to whose share in them he looked anxiously forward; and Catherine remained at Fullerton to cry. Whether the torments of absence were softened by a clandestine correspondence, let us not inquire. Mr. and Mrs. Morland never did — they had been too kind to exact any promise; and whenever Catherine received a letter, as, at that time, happened pretty often, they always looked another way.

The anxiety, which in this state of their attachment must be the portion of Henry and Catherine, and of all who loved either, as to its final event, can hardly extend, I fear, to the bosom of my readers, who will see in the tell–tale compression of the pages before them, that we are all hastening together to perfect felicity. The means by which their early marriage was effected can be the only doubt: what probable circumstance could work upon a temper like the general’s? The circumstance which chiefly availed was the marriage of his daughter with a man of fortune and consequence, which took place in the course of the summer — an accession of dignity that threw him into a fit of good humour, from which he did not recover till after Eleanor had obtained his forgiveness of Henry, and his permission for him “to be a fool if he liked it!”

The marriage of Eleanor Tilney, her removal from all the evils of such a home as Northanger had been made by Henry’s banishment, to the home of her choice and the man of her choice, is an event which I expect to give general satisfaction among all her acquaintance. My own joy on the occasion is very sincere. I know no one more entitled, by unpretending merit, or better prepared by habitual suffering, to receive and enjoy felicity. Her partiality for this gentleman was not of recent origin; and he had been long withheld only by inferiority of situation from addressing her. His unexpected accession to title and fortune had removed all his difficulties; and never had the general loved his daughter so well in all her hours of companionship, utility, and patient endurance as when he first hailed her “Your Ladyship!” Her husband was really deserving of her; independent of his peerage, his wealth, and his attachment, being to a precision the most charming young man in the world. Any further definition of his merits must be unnecessary; the most charming young man in the world is instantly before the imagination of us all. Concerning the one in question, therefore, I have only to add — aware that the rules of composition forbid the introduction of a character not connected with my fable — that this was the very gentleman whose negligent servant left behind him that collection of washing–bills, resulting from a long visit at Northanger, by which my heroine was involved in one of her most alarming adventures.

The influence of the viscount and viscountess in their brother’s behalf was assisted by that right understanding of Mr. Morland’s circumstances which, as soon as the general would allow himself to be informed, they were qualified to give. It taught him that he had been scarcely more misled by Thorpe’s first boast of the family wealth than by his subsequent malicious overthrow of it; that in no sense of the word were they necessitous or poor, and that Catherine would have three thousand pounds. This was so material an amendment of his late expectations that it greatly contributed to smooth the descent of his pride; and by no means without its effect was the private intelligence, which he was at some pains to procure, that the Fullerton estate, being entirely at the disposal of its present proprietor, was consequently open to every greedy speculation.

On the strength of this, the general, soon after Eleanor’s marriage, permitted his son to return to Northanger, and thence made him the bearer of his consent, very courteously worded in a page full of empty professions to Mr. Morland. The event which it authorized soon followed: Henry and Catherine were married, the bells rang, and everybody smiled; and, as this took place within a twelvemonth from the first day of their meeting, it will not appear, after all the dreadful delays occasioned by the general’s cruelty, that they were essentially hurt by it. To begin perfect happiness at the respective ages of twenty–six and eighteen is to do pretty well; and professing myself moreover convinced that the general’s unjust interference, so far from being really injurious to their felicity, was perhaps rather conducive to it, by improving their knowledge of each other, and adding strength to their attachment, I leave it to be settled, by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience.
the_merope on December 16th, 2009 07:44 pm (UTC)
tempestsarekind: henry tilney would SO write fanfictempestsarekind on December 16th, 2009 07:46 pm (UTC)
Indeed. :)
Magistrix Texan: Waveserstwhiletexan on December 16th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC)
I think that article is a bit unnecessarily unkind. :( I loved the latest BBC Emma, although, to be fair, it's been years since I read the book.
tempestsarekind: not supposed to be a heroine [NA]tempestsarekind on December 16th, 2009 09:58 pm (UTC)
I haven't read the article yet (though I skimmed the first few paragraphs), since I have yet to see the latest adaptation (it should be airing on PBS in January, I think?). I was mostly just amused by the title, and the way it plays off of Austen's own comment that in Emma Woodhouse, she was creating a heroine that no one but she would like.

I'm glad to hear that you loved the latest adaptation, though! I haven't really been keeping up with the reviews, since I knew it would be a while before I'd get to see it myself.
Magistrix Texan: Fortune-tellingerstwhiletexan on December 16th, 2009 10:50 pm (UTC)
I didn't realise it hadn't aired in the States, yet! I hope you like it -- I think it reminds me much more of Clueless than the other adaptations of Emma, but I really enjoyed that.
tempestsarekind: austentempestsarekind on December 16th, 2009 11:08 pm (UTC)
I think Clueless is maybe the best adaptation of Emma so far (or at least the one I enjoy the most), so we'll see!
litlover12 on December 16th, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC)
It's Austen's birthday? No kidding? I had no idea she shared a birthday with Beethoven! :-)
tempestsarekind: very few dates in this historytempestsarekind on December 16th, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
And I had no idea that Beethoven shared a birthday with Jane Austen!
Valancy: EagerReadervalancy_s on December 16th, 2009 10:54 pm (UTC)
That's an awfully quick turn-around time for an article on Emma! Wow. I won't read it, though, until I've seen the mini. (I'm waiting for it to air on PBS.) There's a hilarious interview Andrew Davies gave about his 90s version of Emma, in which he basically reveals that he hates all the characters except Jane Fairfax, and refers to Mr. Knightley as "a bit of a Humbert Humbert." That explained a lot about that movie!

♥♥♥ to the NA quote :)
tempestsarekind: henry tilney would SO write fanfictempestsarekind on December 16th, 2009 11:14 pm (UTC)
I think Emma is supposed to air on PBS at the end of January. (I didn't read the article either, just skimmed the first few paragraphs, since I haven't seen the adaptation yet.)

in which he basically reveals that he hates all the characters except Jane Fairfax, and refers to Mr. Knightley as "a bit of a Humbert Humbert."

o_0 Uh, wow. I *did* think he did a good job with Jane Fairfax, though; perhaps that's why!

I'm so glad I was "forced" to reread NA (I say "forced" because I reread it in an Austen class, after reading it on its own as a summer reading book between eighth and ninth grades). It would be so sad if my original opinion of it had been left standing! (I think I managed to miss all the jokes.)

Edited at 2009-12-16 11:14 pm (UTC)
Neaneadods on December 17th, 2009 02:10 am (UTC)
The article lost me at the bit about there being three adaptations of Emma, which meant it was hard to adapt. As opposed to the billions and billions of Pride & Prejudices or Christmas Carols - does that mean they're even harder to adapt?
tempestsarekind: austentempestsarekind on December 17th, 2009 06:33 pm (UTC)
Hmm, I didn't catch that bit. I may have mentally inserted an "unsuccessful" between "three" and "adaptations," though, since I don't really care for the two I've seen. Otherwise, that is the sort of logic that makes no sense!
Neaneadods on December 18th, 2009 12:38 am (UTC)
I'm quite fond of the Gwyneth Paltrow version, feeling that it caught the overall feel of the book very nicely. "Please don't shoot my dogs."
tempestsarekind: corset pouttempestsarekind on December 18th, 2009 03:31 am (UTC)
Hee. "Don't really care for" was probably too strong a statement, as there are quite a few things that I do like about the Paltrow version (one very important one of those things being named Jeremy Northam, who actually seems to like and be amused by Emma, which is important). Unexpectedly, it's Gwyneth Paltrow who doesn't work for me; I've liked her in other things (and loved her in Shakespeare in Love), but for whatever reason, she doesn't quite say "Emma Woodhouse" to me.
Neaneadods on December 18th, 2009 11:31 pm (UTC)
who actually seems to like and be amused by Emma, which is important

Key, I'd say!

She worked as Emma for me - different strokes. Emma's not an easy role to do; she has to be pushy and blithe and a bit brainless without being mean.
tempestsarekind: books and flowerstempestsarekind on December 19th, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC)
Yes--and it's something I don't think Mark Strong really ever managed as Mr. Knightley in the BBC/A&E adaptation (the one with Kate Beckinsale).

I think Gwyneth's performance was just one of those highly subjective, irrational things where she didn't happen to match up with the Emma inside my head, because I don't think there's anything wrong with the performance that I can recall; she just wasn't "my" Emma.
Neaneadods on December 19th, 2009 07:02 pm (UTC)
Fair enough. It's why I can't listen to my original favorite Pratchett books on audio because he "doesn't read them right."
tempestsarekind: freema reading is sexytempestsarekind on December 19th, 2009 07:03 pm (UTC)
Yeah. Books: they belong to everyone, and yet they're so personal!
clean all the things!!!: jimfacethepresidentrix on January 6th, 2010 05:11 am (UTC)
I take issue with this critic's description of Lost in Austen as 'remarkably witty.'

It was hard to pay attention after that.
tempestsarekind: austen snark is the best snarktempestsarekind on January 6th, 2010 03:45 pm (UTC)
Ha, I know! I read that and thought, "Really??" But I hear (which means that I read it on Austenblog) that Persuasions as a whole was fairly kind to Lost in Austen, which surprised me--not because I think the contributors should go out of their way to pan things--and they're not, generally, writing reviews, anyway--but because the way "Austen" was presented in LiA seemed problematic, to me, and worth examining in detail.