Friday, September 30, 2011

Reading Jane Eyre & New Poll

So, I’ve read all 6 Jane Austen novels. I had planned to move right on to her minor works (The Watsons, Sanditon, Lady Susan, and the “juvenilia”) but I have felt rather uninformed as to other classics of late, so I’m taking a little break from Jane Austen (though she is always in the back of my mind, whatever I read), and right now I’m reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

I was formally introduced to the story last winter when I watched the 1983 mini-series. While that one isn't my favorite, I am glad I saw it first (I watched a few others soon afterwards) because it has the whole story. Of course, there is much left in the book, and a book is almost always better than the movie(s).

I’m in chapter 19 out of 38 presently, so I have more than half left to go. Within the last couple days I’ve started really “getting into” the story, as happens a lot to me. My thoughts turned to my blog, and the question arose in my mind, should I do for Jane Eyre what I have for the novels of Jane Austen? You know, book review, summary of the movies, other random thoughts, quotes, etc. Because it’s nice to be doing things on one’s blog that one’s readers like to read, I made a poll concerning this question.
Please vote, and of course a comment would be great! =)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Northanger Abbey: The Movies

To read the actual summary of the story, read the book review.

1986, BBC/A&E
I started watching this one more than a year ago and never finished it. For one thing, it is even worse quality than most I see from the 80s; the hairstyles and costuming are quite ridiculous, everyone (or almost everyone) seems horribly miscast, and the music is weird…this strange electric guitar thing going on. Like the 2007 version, Catherine imagines odd things (by the way, all the book mentions her imagining are old castles), but very different from the other movie at the same time. The thing I really disliked, was that at first you can’t tell whether it’s real or not, so you don’t see it coming. Anyways, I really have nothing positive to say about the movie.
Catherine Morland: Katherine Schlesinger
Henry Tilney: Peter Firth
Length: 1 hr. 28 min.
My “grade”: (D) (I’m so mean!)

2007, ITV/Masterpiece Theatre
I am a little sad about this movie because it had the potential to be really good – a lot of the casting is very well done, etc. – but then they had to add objectionable things to it. The stuff Catherine imagines always looked like something to fast-forward, and so we did the first time watching it; I have since heard that that was the right thing to do. John Thorpe constantly swears…in the book, it will say “d——”; in the movie, of course, it’s worse because you hear the word over and over; and I do believe he said it much more often in the movie than in the book. There are some objections to Isabella as well; the biggest one about her is the happening with her and Captain Tilney. I really don’t approve of them sticking that in there – I think it should be exactly as the book has it: leaving you to draw your own conclusions.
   One thing that bugged me after reading the novel was that Catherine was reading “gothic fiction” before she even went to Bath; in the book, Isabella introduced her to those sorts of novels.
   In short, movies that require me to be armed with the remote control & ready to fast-forward the whole time I’m watching it leave somewhat to be desired, and can’t make my favorites list. I think this movie has some very sweet & enjoyable things (Henry and Catherine make such a cute couple!) but there is at least as much of the things we skip.
   On a more approving note, however, I really liked how “Jane Austen’s” narration came in at the beginning (although they left out/combined some quotes I adore) and ending. My favorite thing about the novel is its splendid narration – I’d actually like to hear it all the way through, and just like the book.
Catherine: Felicity Jones (I’d love to see her in another Jane Austen movie!)
Henry: J.J. Feild
Length: 1 hr. 33 min.
My “grade”: (B+)

Wishbone, 1998
For those of you who don’t know, Wishbone is (or was) a children’s program featuring an imaginative dog named Wishbone. Circumstances in his life (or rather, his owner’s life) remind him of various stories from classic fiction. He then 'tells us the story,' imagining himself as the main guy. (It’s actually a fun way to learn, in general, the classics. Even if it is silly. ha)
    They made two episodes for Jane Austen:
·         Furst Impressions (Pride and Prejudice)
·         Pup Fiction (Northanger Abbey)
I mention this now whereas I didn’t for Pride and Prejudice because I feel there is an insufficiency of Northanger Abbey films. Every other Jane Austen novel has at least 3 adaptations.
   Of course it has many drawbacks. Extremely shortened…a dog playing Henry Tilney…sort of make-do costuming…but hey, this is a Wishbone episode, not a period drama. And when I compare it to their P&P, I see a big improvement. The casting was a lot better (incidentally, the Eleanor Tilney was Elizabeth Bennet in the other; and she’s much more suited to the former), less of a complex story than P&P to work with, and Wishbone really makes a much better Henry Tilney than Mr. Darcy.
    It’s a comparatively short little thing. I suggest watching it…just for fun. =)

   And, just in case you want to see it, here’s a list of the episodes: Wishbone Episode List

My favorite
    It would be terribly un-Janeite like to say my favorite is Wishbone, wouldn’t it? – Yes, I suppose so.
    We really need a new one. (Oh, can I be Catherine? =D)
    But, from what I can watch of it, my preference is definitely the 2007 version.

Which is your favorite? Do you think there should be a new adaptation?
Which is your favorite version of Northanger Abbey?
1986, BBC 2007, ITV free polls 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Northanger Abbey: The Book

The Story
     “No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine.” She is not beautiful, accomplished, or brilliant; has a rather uneventful life in a parsonage with her 9 siblings, and resides in a small village with rather uninteresting neighbors. “But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way.”
     The Allens, a nearby older couple with no children, invite Catherine to come with them to Bath. She happily accepts, of course; “if adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.”
     At first Bath does not rise to her expectations – the first ball is extremely crowded and they know absolutely nobody. After a few days of having no one to talk to except Mrs. Allen, she meets Mr. Henry Tilney at a ball. She doesn’t quite understand his singular sense of humor, but is amused and altogether pleased with him. Anxious to meet him again, she keeps on the lookout for him whenever she is out, but in vain: he seems to have vanished from Bath.
     Meanwhile Mrs. Allen happens across an old friend, Mrs. Thorpe. Two of her children, Isabella and John, become closely acquainted with Catherine – especially Isabella. From that day they are inseparable. Isabella introduces Catherine to such “horrid” novels as The Mysteries of Udolpho and other popular ‘horror mysteries’ of the time.
     Catherine is rather oblivious and not very perceptive, so she does not notice the falseness and inconsistencies of Isabella, or that John Thorpe, who she does not like, seems to have a fancy for her.
     Henry appears once again with his sweet sister Eleanor, who quickly becomes Catherine’s friend.
     Just before the Tilneys are to leave Bath, General Tilney (the father) invites Catherine to visit their home, Northanger Abbey. Surprised but delighted, she accepts; relieved not to have to part from Henry and Eleanor, and excited at the prospect of staying in an abbey. She anticipates an ancient place with secret panels and trap doors – the sort of thing she loves to read about.
     Interesting events do await her…although not quite the kind she imagines.

My sentiments
     All Jane Austen’s novels are very different, and I found Northanger Abbey very unlike the rest. The style of narration seems very different; she addresses the reader throughout the novel, and it sparkles with more irony than ever. The book is usually considered a satire of the sort of story Catherine loves. She compares occurrences and characters in Northanger Abbey to those of popular fiction; and they are usually very different.
     In short, I drew great pleasure from the wit and light-heartedness of this novel, the last of her main six I had left to read. I found Catherine a delightful heroine, and Henry Tilney now ranks in my top three Jane Austen heroes.
Publication details
     The book was begun around the same time as the first versions of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. It was called Susan, which was likewise the heroine’s original name. In 1803 it was sold for 10 pounds to a publisher, who strangely never published it. Several years later Jane Austen wrote and inquired about it. They said they’d never promised to publish it, and she could have it back for the same amount of money they paid her. The Austen ladies, then on their own, had needed the money and so of course they didn’t have enough. In 1816, after she had made money as an author, her brother Henry got it back for her – informing the publishers afterwards that it was written by the author of Pride and Prejudice, etc…the books were quite popular. What fun it must have been to see the man’s reaction to that news!
     Jane Austen then changed the heroine’s name to Catherine and retitled the book, also adding a note to put at the beginning, explaining briefly that it should have been published in 1803 and now some things were out of date. It was published after her death along with Persuasion in 1818.

P.S. Was Laurentina’s skeleton behind the veil in The Mysteries of Udolpho?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Authors card game

This is my last odds-and-ends post for the day.
If all goes according to plan, I shall be starting posts on Northanger Abbey next week.

Well, there’s this little game that I’ve been playing quite a bit lately, mostly with my sister (and usually my niece joins in). I don’t remember how it came up, but some of my family started talking about this game – I guess I was too young to play when it was popular with them before – and when my dad mentioned Jane Austen was in it, of course I had to seek it out. There it was, not even buried or anything, in the game closet.

   The box is so worn-out you can see it has been used a lot!
   The game is actually rather easy – sort of like Go Fish, except more interesting, of course. And I know it nearly by heart now – give me a book in the game, and I could tell you who wrote it; name one of the authors, and I could tell you a few books by him.

   My sister and I are always trying to get certain authors – the “desirables” – Jane Austen, of course, is top priority. If you get her set, you win the game. (Well, not really, but that is a little joke between us.)

   I’m not sure why they think she looked like that – in particular the hair color – but oh well. At least she’s in there! In the newer games she’s left out – can you believe it?!
   If I would have been choosing the books, I’d replace Mansfield Park with Sense and Sensibility – I think it’s just as well-known, if not more so.
   For quite a while when I first started playing this, I hardly EVER got her – it was very odd. But I’m catching up. =)

Here are some more desirables –
And especially Louisa May Alcott, because she’s one of the only two women authors In the game.

Which is why I replaced one with…
   L. M. Montgomery. The name of the author originally there as well as all his books but one were hard to pronounce (because they were French), and we never hear of that author anyways. So I covered up “weird black-haired dude” or “Bald Zach” as we jokingly called him (the latter because of his last name – Balzac) with a ‘girl author.’ I made the card things myself on the computer, and used rubber cement to glue it on. It sticks well, but also peels off nicely without damaging the original cards.

   I might replace them with the Bronte Sisters or Elizabeth Gaskell later.

After playing the game so many times, we started to nic-name some things; change the titles slightly, etc. just for fun. Here are the ones that have to do with Jane Austen:

For this one, we copy Harriet from the 2009 Emma and say “ ‘Shipcourt’ of Miles Standish”. Tehe.
Instead of ‘Sir Walter Scott’ we often say ‘Sir Walter Elliot’; the father's name in Persuasion.
Sir Walter Scott lived while Jane Austen did – they were actually around the same age. He admired her works – I think she must have admired his as well, since she quoted him quite a bit.

Here’s a complete list of the authors in this edition of the game:
William Shakespeare
Jane Austen
Honore de Balzac (now L. M. Montgomery)
Robert Louis Stevenson
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Washington Irving
Louisa May Alcott
Sir Walter Scott
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Charles Dickens
James Fenimore Cooper
Mark Twain
Henry W. Longfellow

"One Lovely Blog" Award

Many thanks to Charity of Austenitis, Miss Elizabeth Bennet from Elegance of Fashion, Maria Elisabeth of Miss Georgiana Darcy and Abby from Newly Impassioned Soul for awarding me with...

I especially like this award because I think it's cute. :) It looks pinkish and has a teacup and a rose! How nice!

Well, I'm supposed to say 7 random things about I go:

1) I think the word 'random' is a rather over-used.

2) I despise football.

3) I’m home schooled (and love it!) in case you haven’t guessed.

4) I played the fiddle/violin for more than 8 years, before I ‘faded out’ and discovered I was much more suited to the piano.

5) I’m a memory hoarder. I have all sorts of different journals; I like to watch old home videos (or “family memories” as we write on the tapes); look at old photos; think of times past, etc, etc.  (Nostalgic might be the word.)

6) I wear skirts the majority of the time, just because I like to.

7) I feel very mad at blogger right now because it messed up and now I have to pretty much re-do this whole post...

Okay, now I'm to award 15 people. (I'm putting them in reverse alphabetical order, just to be more interesting.)

1. The Writers Reverie
2. The Story of a Seamstress
3. Old-Fashioned Charm
4. Novel Pretender
5. Newly Impassioned Soul
6. Miss Georgiana Darcy
7. Living on Literary Lane
8. History Back in Time
9. Elegance of Fashion
10. The Dashwood Sisters
11. But when a young lady is to be a heroine,
12. Austenitis
13. All Things Jane Austen....

And here are Two Lovely new(ish) blogs that could use some visitors:
14. Tea in Austenland
15. Elegance of Drama

Thanks again to those who awarded me! =)

Poll Results

So, back in July I made the poll: "Which are your two favorite novels by Jane Austen?". Today, we have the results.

The most popular combinations are:

                             1st place:
(8 votes)

                               2nd place:
(7 votes)

                               3rd place:
(6 votes)

And these are the other combinations:

Sense & Sensibility and Persuasion (3 votes)
Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park (3 votes)
Pride & Prejudice and Northanger Abbey (3 votes)

Persuasion and Northanger Abbey (2 votes)

Emma and Northanger Abbey (1 vote)
Pride & Prejudice and Mansfield Park (1 vote)
Emma & Mansfield Park (1 vote)

And the other poll which ended a long time ago:

"In your opinion, whose portrayal of Mr. Darcy was the best?"

And guess who won?
Okay, I just liked the picture
of both of them...
Colin Firth! Are we surprised?
And David Rintioul didn't get any votes, which I am not surprised at either. ha

Here are the exact results:

Laurence Oliver (1940) - 1 vote
David Rintioul (1980) - 0 votes
Colin Firth (1995) - 12 votes
Matthew MacFadyen (2005) - 3 votes
None were even satisfactory - 0 votes

I did vote for Colin Firth, and I do think his Mr. Darcy was better than satisfactory; although, I also think somebody could do a little better. I don't think any movies have got Mr. Darcy quite right as of yet. But the 1995 one was very good, indeed it was.

Aaaand, for a new poll....for it is universally acknowledged in the world of blogging, that once one poll is completed we must make another...

I think it's probably true that every author has at least one character they make at least a little like themselves. So:

"Which of Jane Austen's heroines was the most like herself?"

Vote on the sidebar!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Period Drama Week Questions: second half

Click here for the first half.

11. Which period drama which you haven't seen yet do you most want to watch?
Good question! Probably The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982). So many people adore that movie I feel like I’m missing out!

12. Which period drama has the prettiest soundtrack or background music?
I must choose the soundtracks from Anne of Green Gables (1&2) by Hagood Hardy. Very beautiful.

13. Which period drama has your favourite screenplay/script? Why? (e.g if it is similar to the original text, if there is one, or if it has been improved in some ways)
That’s a hard one! I do love the script for Pride and Prejudice (1995). Very faithful to the book – even if it is not quite the same and Mr. Darcy didn’t go swimming in the pond and a few scenes I really like in the book are excluded –  but the quotes are extremely close to the book, if not exactly the same.
I also love the script for Emma (2009); some of the quotes are not as close to the book as I would like them to be, but I think the flow of the movie etc. is great.

14. Do you like having multiple versions of some period dramas? Do some period dramas need a newer version? Or are the older versions better?  
Yes, I do like having multiple versions. It’s a hobby of mine to watch them and compare. Some do need a newer version, but most of those ones do have a recent(ish) version that just isn’t any good and needs a replacement.

15. What is the longest period drama you've seen?
Bleak House (2005) – the mini-series is 8 ½ hours long. But (almost) every minute is really interesting! A very intricate plot, and deserves all 15 episodes.

16. Who are your favourite actors/actresses from period drama?

I like to be a lot more involved in the characters the actors portray rather than the actors themselves, but I do enjoy the acting of Romola Garai (Emma Woodhouse tops my list, but I’ve seen her in 3 other roles). I usually enjoy the roles played by Keeley Hawes (Cynthia Kirkpatrick from Wives and Daughters, Lizzie Hexam on Our Mutual Friend) and although I’ve only seen her in the one role, I really enjoyed Claire Foy’s performance of Amy Dorrit. And I love Jonny Lee Miller’s Mr. Knightley.

17. Do you prefer watching a regular-length movie or a more in-depth mini-series? Why?
I almost always prefer a mini-series. They are usually MUCH more accurate to the story and allow time for the plot to develop as it should. Some people like to sit down and watch something all at once, and so they don’t like long things – but I do; I like to be able to spread things out and not have it be over all at once.  

18. What period drama has one of your favorite actors/actresses in it?
Emma (2009) has a lot of actors I like & have seen in several things – Romola Garai namely; also Johdi May and Michael Gambon.

19. Which heroine from which movie was your least favorite? Why?
From what I can think of right now, I’d have to say Estella from Great Expectations. She was very snobbish and self-centered.  It wasn’t completely her fault she was that way – it was what she was taught – but that doesn’t make me like her any more.
The movie I saw was from 1999, and Estella was played by Justine Waddell (whose acting though, I do enjoy).
Most other heroines I don’t like at first improve a great deal and I end up liking them by the end (such as Bella Wilfer from Our Mutual Friend).

20. Which three period dramas are your least favorite?
That’s a tough one! From what I HAVE seen (there are several I haven’t, and don’t want to, that I wouldn’t like; including Becoming Jane, Miss Austen Regrets, Mansfield Park (1999), and others) I’d probably include:

Great Expectations (1999)
   The whole thing seemed depressing to me, didn’t have a satisfactory ending, and (unlike most other Charles Dickens movies) had only two parts in the whole thing which made me laugh. I don’t like the hero much – I don’t really dislike him, but he needs to gain wisdom – and the main girl character, I mentioned in question 19. The whole thing with the old lady was spooky and dark – and burning to death because her train catches on fire? Ugh. *shudders*.
   I didn’t hate it so much that I won’t try the new adaptations coming out next year, though. We shall see.

The Young Visitors
   I saw this quite a long time ago, before I was really into period dramas. I remember not liking it at all though. The way they made it was very silly (because it the story was supposed to be written by a young girl, they made everything strangely exaggerated) and it only went downhill. The only reason I’d be prevailed upon to see it again is because it has several recognizable actors in it.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)
   Okay, I needed a third…don't get mad at me. Also I’m speaking only from seeing half of the movie (or maybe a little less), but from what I did see, bluntly speaking, I thought it was a failure, as well as way too modernized. Jane Austen does not need modernization, or strange drama added; a lot of the characters were not at all the way they were in the book. I think it could have been better – for instance, when I saw Matthew Macfadyen as the hero in Little Dorrit, I thought he did an excellent job. But he was not Mr. Darcy. The costumes were all wrong – very dull as well as the wrong style (late 1700s rather than early 1800s…or Georgian, and not Regency).
   But I’ll stop now. haha

NOTE - after reading Miss Laurie's answer to this question, I was reminded of Gone With the Wind... which I really REALLY didn't like. Ugh. So, if you so choose, you can replace that in your mind with any one of the movies I put up there - I dislike it above them all.

The end! I look forward to reading everyone else's answers. =)
Join in the fun!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Period Drama Week Questions: first half

1. How did you get into period dramas?
 I’ve been a fan of old-fashioned movies for so long I can’t quite say. The first one I saw, though, was Anne of Green Gables, so long ago I can’t remember exactly when, but I remember liking it ever since I was about 4. The first one that got me started into the general realm of “period dramas”, though, simultaneously began with my interest in Jane Austen: when I watched Sense and Sensibility (1995) with my older sister about 2 ½ years ago. I remember soon afterwards watching Pride and Prejudice (1995) for the first time, and I was gone. ;-) I adored the whole thing and felt so happy at the end!

2. What is it that you like about period dramas?
Perhaps my favorite couple in period drama -
Emma and Mr. Knightley (2009)
One of the things I like is the depth most of them possess, as opposed to modern films. Something that grasps your soul and holds on. (Tehe) I love the ones that really capture my imagination and I’m thinking about them for days, wishing I could move in to one of the stories!

3. Do you usually read a book and then watch the adaptation or do you watch the adaptation and then read the book?
Unfortunately the latter. Although that is one of the good things about period dramas – they make you interested in the classics, and help you know whether you’ll like the book or not. But it’s always good to read the book first if possible.

4. What are your top three period dramas and why?
This is a little harder than writing about my top 3 favorite Jane Austen movies! Here goes –

1.        Pride and Prejudice (BBC/A&E, 1995)
My favorite movie! Unlike some, I celebrate the fact that it is 5 hours long, because then it can begin to do justice to the story, and it provides all the more to enjoy! It has very good acting, and feels nice and old-fashioned, not that modern feeling some have, and very close to the book. My favorite part of the movie is the visit to Pemberley; and my favorite scene is the one that starts with Lizzy playing the piano and singing, at Pemberley. That scene makes me feel happy; so does the ending. When the movie is over I usually sit there with a silly smile on my face for a few moments. Oh, and I like the soundtrack, too.

2.      Emma (BBC, 2009)
Very delightful, this movie. Another one that really lifts the spirits, it is so bright and cheery! I think the Emma and Knightley actors do an excellent job, and I love the music, costumes, etc. Like with P&P, I have a favorite part: the ball; and my favorite scene is the one where Emma and Mr. Knightley dance. It’s so lovely! And again like P&P, the ending makes me happy, and I have to sit for a little while with the silly smile. As with any Jane Austen adaptation, there are some things I am dissatisfied with, but all in all I think it is a faithful version and captures the mood of the book very well. While it may be slightly modernized (with speech and movement), it still has that innocent feel to it that I like Jane Austen movies to have; and still seems authentic.
 I love it!!!

3.      Anne of Green Gables & The Sequel
I hope it’s all right that I’m combining these two – I can never decide which one I like better; but the second is a faithful continuation of the first; I really love them both.
For years they were my favorite movies, until I saw Pride and Prejudice and it slowly moved to second place, and now I guess to third. 
Now I come to the ‘why’: They have realistic acting, great costumes and music (I love the time era), and the story of course is splendid (Anne is hilarious) due to the genius of L.M. Montgomery. The sequel, although some people complain is not enough “like the book”, I do like it, perhaps even a little more than the first if I had to decide. It’s taken from books 2, 3, and 4 in the Anne series, so it is sort of all mixed up. But it remains faithful to the characters and most of the events are taken in some way or other from the books; it is altogether brilliant. (I really like seeing Anne as a teacher.)

5. From those three period dramas that you picked, who are your favorite characters in each one?
Pride and Prejudice – Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Bennet, Mr. Bennet, Mr. Darcy, Georgiana Darcy

Emma – Mr. Knightley (!!), Emma Woodhouse, Mrs. Weston; and Mr. Woodhouse is quite funny.

Anne of Green Gables – Anne Shirley, Gilbert Blythe, Matthew Cuthbert, Marilla, Miss Stacey, Emmeline Harris (from the second); and although I don’t much like Mrs. Lynde very much, she can make me laugh.
6. Which author do you like the adaptations of their works best?
JANE AUSTEN!!!!! (Yes, I am very enthusiastic about J.A. adaptations. And J.A. in general, as you might gather from my blog…ha)

7. Which period drama characters are the funniest to you (Keep it under three)?
That’s hard! Perhaps Mr. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice (1995), Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables…and maybe Mr. Panks from Little Dorrit (2008).

8. Which period drama characters are the most annoying (Keep it under three)?
Mr. Smallweed from Bleak House (2005), All the Dorrits except Amy and Frederick on Little Dorrit (2008) (If I had to choose one…probably Amy's brother "Tip"),  and Mrs. Gibson on Wives and Daughters (1999). (Those or just some of the most annoying…)

9. Which period drama characters are in your top three?
Mr. Knightley - Emma, Amy Dorrit - Little Dorrit, Elizabeth Bennet – Pride and Prejudice. Those are a few of my favorites.

10. When you watch period dramas, what is it that you pay the closest attention to (ie. costuming, scenery, etc.)?

I like these dresses!

(The story? Haha.) Well, I do pay a lot of attention to costumes & hairstyles (peoples appearance in general), but then acting is quite important – though I might not notice it much unless it’s badly done. I also think music is very important.

Join in the fun!

Click here for the second half.

Would you rather hear the story...

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