Thursday, December 27, 2012

End of a Challenge

At the beginning of the year, Abby at Newly Impassioned Soul gave us all the Charles Dickens Reading challenge for his 200th birthday. Which I have fulfilled, even if I did take the smallest option (three books) and the last one was A Christmas Carol because I wouldn't have had time for another novel. (And because it was Christmastime.)

Anyways, it's all done. And now I shall talk a little about the three books I read.

A Tale of Two Cities
I read this one for school back in March. It was nice to be able to read a Dickens story I wasn't exactly acquainted with. I knew the very basic storyline, but nothing else. It didn't really impress me as much as I have seen it do to some people, but I did enjoy it, and whenever and if ever I read it again, I might enjoy it even more. I think that my test of whether I liked something or not is how I would react if I heard somebody say something against it. I have defended it somewhat before, so I guess that must mean I liked it. The story was quite interesting, even though the French Revolution is... well... not something I really choose to read about much, be it fact or fiction. Hey, I'm a Jane Austen fan... stories about a quiet country life (or even a not-as-quiet city life) appeal to me more than adventuresome tales about a war or revolution. Now I'm approaching areas that may cause Leaguettes to glare at me, so I'll shut up before I get into deeper waters. ;-)

Oh, but I feel compelled to say something that may shock many of you: I actually liked Charles Darnay better than Sydney Carton. "Now despise me, if you dare." I wasn't too thrilled with him, mind, but, sorry folks, a respectable gentleman with a good heart and intentions is more admirable to me than an alcoholic any day, no matter how many brains he may have. I did admire his cleverness... but you see, what I'd like about him is what he could have been, and not what he was. He didn't even have the courage to try to change, even though he knew he should. I just realized that in the sentence before last I was almost quoting Maria Elisabeth. Well, since I almost quoted her, I might as well quote her all the way, because she made a very good point that I agree with in an email a while back, about how she thinks Charles Darnay is quite a hero in his own right--"It takes quite a bit to disown your inheritance, your hopes of being a marquis, and go to earn your living in another country where they promptly pop you off to jail and nearly hang you. And then to jump back into France when he knew all his friends and relations were getting their heads chopped off, merely because he got a letter from someone he didn't know and felt it was his duty to go. And he would have insisted on taking his sentence himself too, if Sydney Carton hadn't oh-so-conveniently drugged him unconscious." 
Of course, I don't really admire him for going back into France--I think it was pretty stupid and it was mean of him not to even tell his wife and daughter goodbye--but it was a nice thought. :P

Anyways. Went off on a bit of a rabbit trail there. Now I guess I'll sit back and watch everybody hate me...

Oliver Twist
I liked this about as well as I thought I would. I chose to read it because it’s a Dickens story I knew hardly anything about, and it was one of the shorter ones. (I might want to try a long one like Little Dorrit someday, but that’s not really something I wanted to commit to read, and I put this on my Classics Club list.) I did enjoy it on the whole, and I think it got better (as in more interesting) as it went along, so I’m definitely glad I read the whole thing. The only problem I have is that since this seems to be one of the most well-known of Dickens’s works, some people read it and then judge all of Charles Dickens from it. Of course, when I come across somebody who, after I ask them if they’ve read/watched any Charles Dickens, say “I read Oliver Twist but I didn’t really like it that much,” I immediately inform them that they need to go watch Little Dorrit or Bleak House before they decide. :-)
I actually think I might reread it someday, and then I might like it better because the first time around, not knowing the story, it’s a little harder to appreciate everything that should be appreciated. It did have a lot of Dickensian threading and entwining of stories going on, but one doesn’t find out most of it till near the end, so it can be a little bit overwhelming the first time around.
Not as much as some of his other stories, though.

A Christmas Carol
The first time I read this was last year. Horrid and shocking, I know. I've always been very acquainted with the story, though, as one of our family's tradition on Christmas Eve is to watch an adaptation of it. (Our favorite is the 1984 one with George C. Scott. I'm always throwing that out there, because the poor thing seems to be so little known even though it is the best!) I enjoyed it very much indeed. And when I read the ending, it was snowing beautifully outside. Quite lovely. (It melted the next morning though...) I was looking forward to Christmas Eve even more because I do so like watching the adaptation of a book while the latter is still fresh on my mind. :)

Did any of you take the challenge? Do you think you'll be able to finish?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Favorite Christmas Movies

Christmastime can't pass without doing at least one completely-Christmas-themed post, can it? I thought I'd take this opportunity to do a short feature about my favorite Christmas movies. It's probably a little late in the season to be recommending some for you, but perhaps I'll find a few fellow fans and you can put others on your list for next year if they sound interesting. ;)

In alphabetical order...

An American Christmas Carol (1979)
This is the best Christmas Carol spin-off I've ever seen. (The fact that it's also the only one I've seen is immaterial.) It really is quite interesting, though. It follows the general storyline of A Christmas Carol, only set in Depression-era America. ACC is also featured in it, heehee. The main character even reads a bit of it. They all have different names from the original story, which I rather seems less cheesy that way or something. Anyway, I definitely recommend it. :)

The Christmas Box (1995)
This isn't really one of my favorite favorites, but I end up watching it every year, haha. (Probably owing to the fact that a certain member of my family holds it in great esteem.) It's a modern movie (well, it was in 1995) but there's no Santa Claus in it. (Yay.) Unfortunately, it always seems like present-day Christmas movies that don't have Santa Claus always have to have something rather strange about angels in it, which is the case with this one... but ignoring those bits, I like it. It's about a young-ish married couple with a daughter who go to live in this big old house (the house may very well be one of my favorite things about the movie) and the wife is a sort of housekeeper for the old lady who lives there alone. It actually starts in the autumn, so it includes Thanksgiving. ;) It also has a sequel, The Timepiece, which has some Christmas in it too. A lot of it is depressing, though.

A Christmas Carol (1984)
If you were to ask me what my #1 favorite Christmas movie is, this would probably be it. This may be partly from nostalgia, considering I've been watching it ever since I was a very wee thing, but it is a most excellent movie. Sadly it seems to be rather little-known for how good an adaptation it is--though in the past two years I have given it a couple new admirers, and hope to give it more in the future. ;) Anyway, if you like this book, you'll probably like the movie. You might even like the movie anyways, if you like period drama in general. ;) The soundtrack is lovely too and just listening to it makes me feel Christmassy; even the tracks that aren't Christmas songs (some of them are). I'll stop talking now, though, and direct you to my review if you would like to read more about it.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
I have to say, the amount of times I've seen this renders it somewhat less interesting to me now. Probably I should take a break from it of a few years' time, but that is hard to do with my dad in the house, because it's one of his all-time favorite movies. ;) But just because I'm so used to it doesn't make it less good, and it's good. Besides, it's a classic. (And rightly so, unlike Some Things I could mention.) If you haven't seen it, that's just sad, so I would suggest rectifying the situation.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
This is a fun thing to watch, just to get a laugh out of the goofiness (and to be fair, there are a lot of witty lines in it which are also fun to quote) and it does have a Christmassy feel, although I think that a person should be acquainted with The Real Christmas Carol, either by reading the book or watching a 'real' adaptation, or both, and not just the Muppet version. (Though the storyline itself is tolerably close to the real thing.) Because one can't just base one's knowledge of literature off of Muppets. Not to say I don't like the movie. Because I do. :D And I could rightfully be accused of occasionally going around the house singing "It Feels Like Christmas." Even if it's not Christmastime. (But that's okay, because wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas... :P) This is also the only Muppet movie I've ever seen. Just...for your random information.

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
It's been more recently that I've grown to like this movie. It's very good. The heroine of the piece irritates me quite frequently, but the story is delightful. And cute. And classic. If you want to have the story spoiled (before you'd figure it out which probably wouldn't take too long) you can go read any short synopsis and they'll do it for you. Heh. But anyways. A delightful old movie. Without Santa Claus OR angels. :D (Of course, the whole thing isn't Christmas, but a great deal of it takes place at Christmastime and ends on Christmas Eve so I think it counts.) I was amused to notice that when I watched it a few days ago, I recognized some literary references that didn't trigger anything the last time I watched it, and then felt terribly educated and cultured. :P (But never fear, the feeling will pass.)

Other Christmas movies I enjoy are your general warm and fuzzy Hallmark Christmas movie, or that sort. (Well, they're usually warm and fuzzy at the end but have tear-jerking moments throughout. :P) They are often festive. A few that come to mind are A Season for Miracles, The Note, Silver Bells and The Christmas Card. I remember enjoying those at least tolerably. ;) (Although the latter was a bit too kissy sometimes for my taste, ha.)

What are some of your favorite Christmas movies?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

JABA Short Story Contest: Results!

Sorry this post wasn't up at the appointed time, folks; there were a few delays.

So, without any ado, because I know that people scroll past all the stuff at the top to see who the winner is (I do, anyway)...

The winner of the JA Fanfiction Short Story Contest is:
Maria Elisabeth! (aka Louisa Musgrove, which was her JA pseudonym for the story)

Regency Delight
She wrote In Which Another of Mrs. Bennet’s Deserving Daughters is Married, a story about Kitty Bennet, and also bringing in a Jane Austen character from another story. The judges were quite delighted with it; so much so that we do hope ever so much the authoress will write more of it. You can read the short story in a little while, but first...

We would like to thank the others who entered the contest. We greatly enjoyed reading the stories Mr. Crompton (featuring Mary Bennet) and And Miss Bates Lived Happily Ever After that were contributed by Josephine Brooks and Miss Molly!

And now for your reading pleasure:
In Which Another of Mrs. Bennet’s Deserving Daughters is Married
a short story by Maria Elisabeth

      With a sigh, Miss Catherine Bennet threw down the book she had been reading for the improvement of her mind.  It was not a novel, and all her weeks of communication with Pemberley’s famous library had not yet reconciled her to a book that was not a novel.  It was a thick, dull book, and Lizzy, away with her husband on a trip to the north, was not there to enliven the dull pages with a witty comment or a laugh.  Georgiana was entertaining a caller in the sitting room and Catherine felt rather guilty for not assisting her in the troublesome duty, but it was only the cheaply stylish, simpering Miss Grantley, whose vulgarity and gossip would run just as fast in front of two people as in front of one.
      She looked through the window.  Up the lane, through the park, she saw a figure in black move briskly to the house.  Another caller.  It would not be fair to make Georgiana face him alone.
      “Your headache is better?” Georgiana questioned softly as Catherine curtseyed to their visitor and sat down.
      “Oh? Yes!”  Then Catherine hurried on to the important news, “Someone – I think a clergyman – is coming up the lane.”
      “Is he coming to call?” Georgiana began to ask, but Miss Grantley interrupted.  “He must be the new clergyman of Kympton.  He’s sallow and ugly and awkward and horribly poor.  Mamma says Mr. Darcy only gave him the living out of charity.  I do not advise you to take any interest in him at all, Miss Bennet.  I was telling Miss Darcy about a naval officer – an excellent prospect, upon my soul!  His intimate friend is even more so – he was extremely flattering to me last time he was here.  I do believe – ”
      “Mr. James Morland,” announced the footman.
      Mr. Morland was sorry for the intrusion, &c; he had expected Mr. Darcy to be home, but he bore his disappointment well and bowed to the ladies with a very good grace.  Catherine observed that he was not nearly as sallow as Miss Grantley had suggested.  A trifle untanned, perhaps, but was that his fault?  He was really almost good-looking.  A flash of a smile as he seated herself by her convinced Catherine that if Mr. James Morland was not exactly handsome, he was very near it.
      A few minutes of conversation convinced her that he was about as non-awkward as he had been not ugly.  He told her of his sister who was also named Catherine, of the rest of his many brothers and sisters, and regaled her with stories of his university adventures.  By the time he got up to leave, Catherine was more than eager to echo Mr. James Morland’s wish of spending more time together, and the genuine smile he flashed her in parting was fully reciprocated on her side.
      With all these favorable happenings, the reader will not be surprised to hear that soon (I purposely abstain from dates on this occasion, that everyone may be at liberty to fix their own) the gentleman had declared himself in a very pretty speech.  The lady, of course, said what she ought.  A lady always does.
Their wedding took place soon afterwards, witnessed by their not at all small band of friends (more or less true, since Mr. Wickham, due to pressing financial inconveniences, had been unable to come for the ceremony.)
      I leave it to be settled, be whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to advocate the necessity of going to Pemberley to find a husband, or otherwise.  It is certain, however, that between Pemberley and Kympton, there was that constant communication which strong family affection would naturally dictate, and that Mr. and Mrs. James Morland were ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing them both into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Last Day to Enter Short Story Contest!

There's one more day to work on your story! Entries will be accepted until midnight. Until then, happy writing!
{Read more details here.}

Sunday, December 16, 2012

How I Met Jane Austen: The Complete Story

Happy Jane Austen Day! Don't you think it should be an international holiday? What fun it would be!

But us Janeites always have fun with it in our own right. In honour of the day and as a part of the Jane Austen Birthday Assembly, today I am going to talk about my acquaintance with Jane Austen, from A to Z, as it were. I've told it in bits and pieces before, you see, but here is the whole story.

The first time I actually remember hearing the name Jane Austen was when I was twelve or thirteen. I was at church on a Wednesday night, with the Jr. High group. I was sitting next to a girl I didn't know very well (still don't, in point of fact), but to make conversation I brought up the subject of books. She said she was reading Pride and Prejudice. Okay, that sounded sort of familiar... there was some tape in the video cabinet with that written on it. (By the bye, this girl was not a Janeite, she was just reading P&P. I know this because she made some remark about it being boring... but she sort of liked it... or something like that. :P) Then she said it was written by Jane Austen. That sounded familiar too, sort of...

But I didn't know who Jane Austen was.

In fact, I thought of some other author, and said "Oh yeah, I think my mom likes her."

Silly little girl. The author I was thinking of had nothing to do with Jane Austen (well, if you get down to technicalities JA is one of that author's favorite authors and she's sometimes mentioned in her books, although of course I had no idea of anything of that sort at the time); she's just a current Christian author and her name barely had a similarity. I was just confused. But I had heard the name before, probably because both my older sisters (and my mom occasionally) read and watched Jane Austen. Both my sisters are quite a bit older than me, though, so by the time I was old enough to enjoy Jane Austen, they'd both been out of the house for some time.

I later remembered the name of the author I was thinking of and felt pretty stupid, but that girl wouldn't know the difference so... whatever. It's too bad I hadn't gone and tried to find out who Jane Austen was, but of course I didn't. 

Between this and the time It Happened, I have a couple memories of coming across things about Jane Austen when it was no more than a name of some old author. Like the Jane Austen Season in 2007, when the BBC adaptations of all six novels and Miss Austen Regrets were played on TV. I remember my second-oldest sister calling to tell Mom that there was going to be some movie about Jane Austen's life playing on TV, and I furthermore remember Mom watching some of it, but I don't think she watched the whole thing... and I was doing something else, anyway. I also remember her watching some of Northanger Abbey (back during the same time, I think) because I remembered a girl saying perhaps she did not keep a journal, and then shortly afterwards it showed her writing in one and then blowing out the candle with a puff.

I don't know what was wrong with me, not caring about what these movies were... haha.

It wasn't until I was fourteen that It Happened. The sister I was just talking about asked me if I'd ever seen Sense and Sensibility, one of her favorite movies.

No. I had not.

This, apparently, was a very shocking thing. "You haven't? Really? Oh! Well, you should watch it with me, then." That was fine with me. I liked watching things with her and we enjoy a lot of the same movies.

I was well set-up to like it, because I'd loved old-fashioned movies (as well as books) ever since I could remember. Anne of Green Gables was my very favorite movie; I also loved things like A Little Princes, The Secret Garden, Heidi, and others. It was before I was really introduced to the world of period drama, though, and I had no idea what wonderful things were out there.

And I remember my sister telling me that Marianne's
hair looked nothing like that in the movie...
So, before long we got together for a sleepover, I believe, and watched the 1995 version of S&S. And I loved it. (Thank you for pointing that out, my dear.) I liked it so much that either the next day or the next time I saw her (it's all fuzzy in my memory) I asked if I could borrow it so I could watch it again. Well, she had the VHS from years gone by and the DVD from more recent years, and was planning to give me the VHS for my birthday, but that was a while off so instead of lending me the DVD she just gave me the VHS. (Which I still have and use.) I take it I must have watched it again and loved it even more... like I said, I can't quite remember.

Because after that everything is a blur. I remember fishing that old video of P&P out of the video cabinet, but unfortunately it was not the Real one. It was the one from 1940 which we'd taped from TV long ago. I watched it anyway, and though I liked it... ha, well, if you've seen it you know what I mean. It isn't Jane Austen. My sister, however, said I should watch the better one, so I put a hold on some random copy from the library.

By some magic, it was the right one. Actually, after I'd started watching it I called my sister to make sure it was the right one, and the one she liked was the... *tries to breathe* 2005 one. Yes. My own sister. Who INTRODUCED me to JANE AUSTEN likes the 2005 version better! It is the most shocking, horrifying--okay, shutting up. She says it's probably just because she's seen the 1995 one so many times... for my own part, it can't be seen too many times. End of story. (My oldest sister, by the way, later told me that that was the good version and that she didn't like the other one. Yay.)

But anyway, I think the reason I called to make sure it was the right one was because before...  well, it's a long story, but that reminds me that I saw Emma first. At this point the 2009 version hadn't come out yet, so my sister showed me the A&E one with Kate Beckinsale. I liked it, but I couldn't hear half of it because her children were making too much noise. So unfortunately I found out the ending without being involved in the story first, which is a shame, but I'm not here to gripe about that... 

Back to P&P. My sister at least said that that version was fine to watch (we're careful about movies around here, and as it isn't rated or anything...) so I did watch it. And I ADORED it. I remember having to go to bed when I wanted to be watching more... I remember going on a short excursion to pick something up with my mom right after the part about Lydia's elopement... and I remember the ending. And the blissfully happy feeling it gave me. That, I think, may very well be when I became a real Jane Austen fan. There was no getting out of it now. I was, as they say, hooked. 

Somehow the 1940 version hadn't spoiled the story for me, but I was curious to know whether Lady Catherine was really mean, or not? (Heh, heh, yes. Very limited knowledge.) Because in the 1940 version they make her Nicer, and when she comes to Confront Lizzy it is only to try to ascertain how she feels about Mr. Darcy. :P Well, well, it was all cleared up soon enough. I got some of the books from the library and started reading them, although unfortunately I just ended up poking through them... just the three I'd been introduced to so far, I think. I started discussing Jane Austen movies and books with family and friends and acquaintances... I remember originally thinking that P&P was 2 and a half hours long, if you can imagine that! But it was because the thing I got from the library used the insert for just one disc when both of them were inside, and when you get the DVD set there are two cases and each one says it's 150 minutes. I'm not as stupid as it seems. :P 

Meanwhile I was exploring other adaptations; I remember seeing the other 1996 Emma... later in the year we went to visit my oldest sister when she was having a baby. I re-watched several of the ones I'd already seen; also saw a bit of the 1981 version of S&S (hahaha...) and was introduced to Persuasion for the first time, because she got the 2007 version from the library, and we (along with a few other people who were over) watched that. I don't know why I hadn't seen a Persuasion before... I think it was because I was trying to save the other movies for after I read the books.  Ha! That didn't happen. 

Shortly after that, I became acquainted with a young lady who knew a lot more about Jane Austen than I did. (She doesn't anymore, though. Muwahahaha.) She lent me Jane Austen-themed books and we discussed the topic a lot. I found out at the beginning that she preferred the 1995 version of P&P, so I knew I liked her. She was like a fount of knowledge and resources there for a while. She'd even been to England and visited Chawton Cottage and all that!

When Emma (2009) aired for the first time in early 2010, my mom and I watched it. She'd read the book and said it was a lot like it, and I did like it but--ha!--I still wasn't sure I preferred Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller to Kate Beckinsale and Jeremy Northam. (I mixed the two as being the best in each role, you see.) Don't worry, I became fully convinced in time. I seemed to progressively like the 2009 version better the more I saw it and now I almost think it's as good as P&P95... which is saying a lot. 

Persuasion (2007) also played, so I recorded it... so did Northanger Abbey (2007), which I recorded and watched with Mom later, fast-forwarding some scenes. I wasn't going to learn to love that story until I read the book.  Then, because Mansfield Park was the only story left I didn't know about... I gave in. I wanted to read P&P and other stories before that one, so if I waited then I wouldn't know about the story for ages and ages and it was just horrible. Heehee. So I inquired around and watched the 1983 version, since it was reputedly the only one that follows the book. (I agree.) 

I finally completed my first Jane Austen novel in the summer of 2010, which was Pride and Prejudice. I'd read about 2/3 of it before, and finally finished it. I DID like it, a very great deal. And I was always wanting the movies to be like the books, even though I hadn't read them all the way through. What really got me settled down into reading the novels was... duh-duhn-duhhhhn... blogging.

My original header
My oldest sister was here for Christmas in 2010, and sometime before that I'd discovered Jane Austen Today, which I greatly enjoyed reading. It's what inspired me to begin my blog. Originally Regency Delight was going to be a "magazine"  I would write just for fun, and maybe give to a few people, so I had ideas of what to write about... then somehow this morphed into wanting to make a blog. My sister was good with convincing my mom that I could have a blog about Jane Austen without a bunch of creepy people finding me.

I thought I knew SO much about Jane Austen at that point. And I did know quite a bit... but not nearly as much as I do now. For one thing, I still said "Knightly". UGH. I can't believe I ever did that, but if you look at very early comments I made, I did. And also I see it, and things like it, in some of my old writings in notebooks and whatnot. (And every time I do I seize a pencil and squeeze an E in there.) Well, I found out soon enough about that. ;) But anyways, what I did at the beginning of blogging was take a story, talk about the book, watch all the movies, write about them, and do a few other posts in connection with that story. (You can see a list of those here.) I'd already read P&P, so I started with that. Then S&S, which I'd finished by the time my P&P posts were over. Then Emma, and then Mansfield Park, because that was the story I felt I knew the least about. Then Persuasion, and finally Northanger Abbey. I was glad I read it last, because by that time I could truly grasp the irony in it. I knew somewhat about the stories it was a parody of, and was accustomed to Jane Austen's wit. 

All six novels were now read, and I could finally call myself a Janeite without feeling guilty. 

Speaking of Janeites, I knew there were a lot out there, but when I started blogging I was amazed by how many girls there were who were like... me. In so many ways. It was very delightful. It was finally a place to talk on and on and on about Jane Austen without feeling like I'm annoying people... I also learned a lot more about classic literature and period drama. Now, during all the Jane Austen Craze, Sister 2 also introduced me to several other period dramas, and blogging cultivated that, too. Nowadays I'm always on the lookout for a period drama I haven't seen that doesn't have objectionable content. 

Anyways. Though I can't quite be in the same Crazy Find Out More About This Wonderful Thing Called Jane Austen mode that I was in for some time, I've never wavered from my devotion. I daresay it's stronger now. Some of my friends even consider me to be the biggest fan you could ever meet. Well, I know there are bigger fans than me... but I don't really mind being thought of that way. I sort of have a reputation for it. People to whom I've never talked about it just know that I'm a Jane Austen fan, and say something about it. (One girl I met didn't even have to say anything-- she had a Kindle, which I was for some reason curious to see even though I wouldn't even want to own one, and she merely went to her list of Jane Austen books before handing it to me. I was quite amused.)

Jane Austen opened up a whole new world to me. I believe her stories somehow helped me to not clutch at the past so much... see, I've always been a nostalgic sort of person... I wanted to stay a little girl for longer, I didn't want anything to chaaaaaaaange.

I'm sort of still the same way about the change, but a lot less than I used to be. Now, it's not like I consider myself to be all grown-up and mature exactly, but Jane Austen made me... well, not mind so much having to be a young lady instead of a little girl. Which I randomly realized one day when I was on a walk. ;)  I really have no idea what I would be like today if I'd never met Jane Austen who, quite literally, changed my life. And all for the better, I believe. For one thing, life is just so much more interesting!

How does Jane Austen have such an influence... how are her stories and her world so captivated, so addicting? (I'm wearing a necklace today that says "Austen Addict"... my oldest sister gave it to me for my birthday. :) ) It's not something that can be described... but it's something that I know is felt by a lot of people, and I love it that there ARE people who understand and feel the way I do. Unlike some people, who think you're a nut. Well, let them think I'm a nut. I'd rather be a Nutty Janeite than no Janeite! 

One thing sure hasn't changed ever since my indoctrination: once I get started talking about Jane Austen, I just can't stop. You see this from the length of the post. If you've actually read all this... haha. Here is a hug for you. :D But I shall quit talking now. Besides, I need to go do the dishes. 

Happy Jane Austen Day again! ;) Don't forget about all the great events going on for JABA--and don't forget to enter the fanfiction contest!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

JABA tag!

Old-Fashioned Charm

Find the tag for the Jane Austen Birthday Assembly here.

1. How did you meet Jane Austen?

She waltzed into my life one day and said "Hello, Melody. I am going to take you captive." And so she did.
Haha, that's not actually a cop-out answer, it's just that I'll be going in to Great Detail about that later. Stay tuned. :)

2. In which order did you first become acquainted with and read Jane Austen's novels?
Well... I can't quite remember what order I became acquainted with them, but it was something like this:
1. Sense and Sensibility
2. Pride and Prejudice
3. Emma
4. Persuasion
5. Northanger Abbey
6. Mansfield Park

And those were all through watching the adaptations, haha. Although I started/poked through the first four on the list before I actually settled down and read them, so that was becoming acquainted with them too.
This is the order in which I read them (only abbreviated this time):
1. P&P
2. S&S
3. Emma
4. MP
5. Persuasion
6. NA

3. Rate Jane Austen's major novels from your most favorite to your least favorite and tell why.
Okay, so let's get one thing settled right now. With Jane Austen, there is no such thing as "least favorite". There's not-as-favorite-as-the-rest, but I like them all so very much!
Secondly, this is a very hard question. It fluctuates. (Well, my favorite is always my favorite, but as to the rest there are such thin lines between them...) It's something like this--
1. Pride and Prejudice
2. Emma
3. Sense and Sensibility
4. Northanger Abbey
5. Persuasion
6. Mansfield Park

Now, P&P, S&S and Emma are always in my top three. It's just that Emma and S&S switch around from time to time. NA and Persuasion also switch around. Mansfield Park is always at the bottom... but I DO like it. Really, I do. And I love Fanny, and if you don't like Fanny, you don't want to get into a discussion with me about it. Just sayin'. :D

As to Why... well, because. That's why.

4. Which Jane Austen hero/heroine couple is your favorite and why?
Umm... uuuummmm... um? Okay, okay, I'm going to have to say Emma and Mr. Knightley. And because they're so cute. (Heeheehee.) I just love their story. I adore the love story in P&P, but I have to say that I've been "into" Emma and Mr. Knightley's the most in the past.

5. Which hero/heroine couple is your least favorite and why?
LEAST favorite? Here we go again. I like them all in their own ways. But... I'll have to go with Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram. I'm sorry! Truth be told, if there was a good adaptation with a nice, redeeming speech of Edmund's at the end and finishing the love story off nicely and sweetly, I might like them a lot better. As it is, I just spend most the story feeling sorry for Fanny, and thinking that Edmund needs to become sensible. Okay, so they're cousins. But that was normal back then. And that doesn't mean he had to go for Mary Crawford, of all people, and keep getting past it when he found anything out against her, just like it was suddenly wiped from his memory when she acted all sweet to him again.
Not that I don't like Edmund in his own right, and that I wasn't happy when they finally got to their happy ending. (But I wanted it to be more descriptive... but don't go pointing fingers, people who say there isn't enough romantic stuff in Miss Austen's novels. She wrote three proposals very well, and as for the other three... she made up for them not being there quite nicely with everything else.)

6. Have you read any of Jane Austen's Juvenilia works? Which ones?
I've started Love and Freindship twice or thrice, and fully intend to read the whole thing someday. ;) I've also read The Three Sisters, which was quite amusing. I'm almost reluctant to read all her minor works, because I know after I'm done with those I won't have anything left by her that I've never read... haha.

7. If you could change the name of one of Jane Austen's characters who would it be and why?
Probably Mr. Darcy's first name. Fitzwilliam just doesn't go with him, and if you're trying to do All First Names for the couples you always don't want to with Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. And I don't really like just calling him "Darcy", although I do it sometimes.

8. Have you ever introduced someone to Jane Austen?
Not exactly. I've 'cultivated' a few people who didn't know very much about her, though. But I daresay that someday I shall. :)

9. If a new film about her life was made, which actress would you want to play Jane Austen?
No comment. Er, that is, I have no idea. Nobody has got her right so far, and I daresay nobody ever will. They could do something a lot better than Becoming Jane and Miss Austen Regrets, though, and I do wish they would.

10. Pretend you're having a weekend party at your very own country house, which Austen characters (up to five) would you invite and why?
Wow. That's a tough one. Well, for starters I would invite Elizabeth Bennet and Henry Tilney so they could make everybody (including myself) laugh and be fun to converse with. Plus I've always just found putting Elizabeth and Mr. Tilney in the same story to be an amusing idea. I wonder what would come of it? Emma would never be allowed to come, so I can't invite her. Who else... okay, Mr. Knightley. Mr. Darcy might come since I've invited Elizabeth, but then he might just stand around and not talk much, because he does not converse easily with strangers, and though I think it would be quite interesting to meet him, Mr. Knightley would probably be easier to talk to. And get along better with Henry Tilney, because since they'll probably be the only two men in the party they must get along.
Who else... well, I could invite Mary Crawford just because she might feel quite put out when the gentlemen don't take notice of her, because I think they are both much too sensible. Henry Tilney might tease her, but inside he would be laughing at her and she'd probably figure that out eventually. It would amuse me. It would also be interesting to see her and Elizabeth interact, because it's been said that Mary is Lizzy gone wrong. But in the end, she might annoy me too much. So never mind her.
Okay, I just need to invite two more people and be done with it. Well... perhaps Anne Elliot, so that she could be in some agreeable company for once, poor thing. But for a good Jane Austen group I think I need somebody besides heroines and heroes... well, let's just say Mrs. Jennings. She's a good soul, rather hilarious, and her matchmaking attempts would be interesting.

11. In your real life have you ever attended a Jane Austen themed event, party or ball? Or have you hosted one yourself?
I hosted a Jane Austen party for my birthday a couple years ago. (You can read about that here.) I've also attended two Regency-themed balls... they aren't Jane Austen-themed exactly, but it's that sort of dancing and most people who can dress in Regency fashions do so.  And a lot of people do know about Jane Austen there, as you might imagine

12. Suppose you were given the opportunity to ask Jane Austen two questions: one in connection with her real life and one about her stories. What would they be?
Such is always the case... I make up a question, and then once I go to answer it, I'm like... ehhhhh?
Okay, well, in connexion with her real life I would ask her about the seaside gentleman... although I suppose that would be too audacious, but you know, this is make-believe.
In connection with her books... I would probably ask what the general hair and eye color and heights of her heroines and heroes are. Hahaha. Is that too much to be one question? ;P Well then, just limit it to heroines. Or just hair and eye colors of heroines, because she talks about height more often than hair color in her books... but then, perhaps she might not know. Well, I would take a good long time and come up with some question I have while reading her books. Like whether Mr. Darcy knew that Elizabeth overheard his "tolerable" speech, or even meant her to...

Sorry no pictures, everybody... heh. I did not feel like taking the time.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

JABA: JA Fanfiction Short Story Contest

Old-Fashioned Charm
Listen up, Janeites and writers, here is your chance of a lifetime!  Well, perhaps not quite.  But it may be of interest to you.
Have you ever wondered what happened to some of the characters in Jane Austen's novels who never really had an ending?  What became of Elizabeth Elliot... did she ever marry?  What is Georgiana Darcy's story? 
Well, my dear friends, here is your opportunity to decide.  To play Jane Austen.  To make up an ending for any unmarried Jane Austen lady that you choose.
I'd better quit rambling in this fashion and give you details.  I think I'm better at rambling than details, so the details will probably be rambles too, but here goes.
  • To rehash what I've said above, this is a short story contest, and the tale is to be Jane Austen "fanfiction," finishing up the story of one of the ladies in Jane Austen's novels. (So they should be single.) It could be someone like Nancy Steele or Mary or Kitty Bennet... it could be Isabella Thorpe or Mary Crawford... hey, it could even be Robert Martin's sister, if you like. There are a lot of possibilities out there so I'll let you think of some instead of listing them all. (But feel free to use any of the ones I've listed, too. We wouldn't mind. Not that it would improve your chances of winning or anything, it would be the same either way--um, anyways. I should stop while I'm... whatever I am.)
  • As for word count, it may be any length you like as long as it is not more than 1,500 words. ;)
  • The contest is open as of now, and we will be accepting entries through December 18th. The contest closes at midnight--we'll say any time zone, so I guess that means Pacific, since they get midnight the latest. (I need to quit stating the obvious, I think.)
  • To submit your entries, we have come up with a Plan. It's called the Anonymous Submission Plan. Well, obviously you can't stay incognito from the person you're sending it to, but the person you're sending it to will send it to me anonymously, and so none of the judges (there are more than one, but I'm getting to that) will know who wrote what until after the decision has been made.  You will direct your entries to Miss Elizabeth Bennet: her e-mail address is elizabeth.bennet.elegance[at]gmail[dot]com.  
  • With your story, please include which novel the character you're writing about is from (we'd figure out out soon enough, but it's nice to know ahead of time), the title of your story, and your pseudonym. That is, you get to make up a Jane Austen Character pen name... just for fun. The judges will see that, so I recommend you not choose anything obvious. ;)  Remember that Miss Elizabeth is supposed to know who you are, though. Just don't include it in the document (if you're attaching a document--pasting into an email would be fine too). 
  • Now for the judges. I shall tell you up-front that the judges will be myself, the renowned blogger and Janeite Miss Laurie, and the brilliant and illustrious authoress Miss Amy Dashwood
  • What we'll be looking for (besides the obvious Best Story and Good Writing) is something that has a Jane Austen-y feel to it (I don't recommend you actually try to write like Jane Austen as far as style goes, because that would be impossible... but it could still be Jane Austen-ish), faithfulness to the original story (you may take some liberties including making up brand-new characters, of course, but we don't like things in the already-existing story-- carefully crafted by Miss Austen herself!-- to be changed, at least not... you know... drastically), and general accuracy to the time period. As to the storyline itself... well, you may do anything you choose! It could be sentimentally sweet or ridiculously hilarious... whatever suits your fancy.
  • Oh, and as to style. You may do anything you like there, too; you may want to consider going epistolary style--that is, writing a story that is made up of letters (as in missives... epistles... you know, mail). Most of Jane Austen's early works are written this way, and it's sometimes easier to make things shorter this way (it could even be one letter!), because the narrative doesn't have to be as detailed. But then, the novels you are continuing aren't that way, so... well, it's completely up to you!
If you have any questions, do leave me a comment.  

Oh, la! I almost forgot. The winner will be announced on December 20th. Her award will be fame and glory... that is, the winning story will be posted for everyone else to read and enjoy. Oh, and the winner will get a button to proudly display on her sidebar.

So for now... happy writing! I really look forward to seeing what you come up with!

12-22-12: This contest has been concluded. You can read the results here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jane Austen Birthday Assembly!

Oh yes, my friends, Jane Austen's Birthday (which is almost like a national holiday for us Janeites) is right around the corner once again! And this year there is to be a Grand Assembly hosted by Miss Laurie, along with Miss Elizabeth Bennet and myself. I'm quite excited! We have lots of fun things in store for you, so be looking out for the posts, starting on December 13th. Click here to read about the event a little more.

Spread the news with these buttons!

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I do hope you all will participate! It's going to be splendid! :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How North and South is Not Like Pride and Prejudice

I have often heard it said that North and South is like Pride and Prejudice. I do not agree with this. I have also heard it said that North and South is like a darker version of Pride and Prejudice. I do not agree with this, either (although it is indeed darker). And I shall endeavor to explain why, as I have now just finished North and South (hereafter to be abbreviated to N&S, and Pride and Prejudice will be P&P) and therefore have sufficient knowledge of the story. I never trusted myself to try and write this post just based on the movie, you know.

(If you do not know these stories already, here is your spoiler warning.)

First of all, I shall list what I believe people base their comparison on, then I shall address the points, and then mention other differences.

Similarities (or what people might consider to be similarities):
1. The general storyline of both is something like this: a man and a woman meet, are not really impressed with each other in their own ways, but the man grows to love the woman and the woman to become more displeased with the man, then he proposes, is rejected, but continues to love her and eventually she finds out what a good guy he his and they finally come to an understanding intending marriage.
2. The heroine is prejudiced and the hero is proud.
3. There is also another man in the story from whom the heroine receives an offer of marriage, which she of course rejects.
4. The hero has a relation who disapproves of the match and at some point has a confrontation with the heroine.
5. The heroines both have an ailing mother who complains a lot.
6. There is a chapter in N&S called "First Impressions" which was P&P's original title.
7. The heroines are both named Elizabeth. (JOKING, I’m joking…although apparently that’s what whoever made this wallpaper/background thought!)

And now I shall address each one of those. Except 7, of course.

1 and 2—These are the ones that probably most everything is actually founded on; the others, I was just trying to think of any possibilities that people could consider. But you will notice that when I wrote the story themes in that description I had to use very general terms. This is because the stories are so unlike each other. This very general storyline is, I daresay, very popular, and these are not the only two authors who have used it. (Although the Janeite in me must point out that Jane Austen did it first. :D)

But anyways. First of all, if a comparison is to be made, I’d have to say that Margaret Hale’s sentiments were actually much more similar to Mr. Darcy’s than Elizabeth Bennet’s, which points out a dissimilarity to begin with. Margaret, we must understand, was brought up as a gentleman’s daughter even though her father is in reduced circumstances; although he was never a gentleman of leisure, his profession was one of the ones accepted by The Gentry, and she had been brought up as a little girl with her rich relatives during the school years in London. When she came to Milton she found what she perceived to be a deal of vulgarity, as Mr. Darcy probably thought about some of the people in Hertfordshire. Margaret found Mr. Thornton himself not to be as polished as she liked, although mostly she was prejudiced because he was a tradesman, or one could also say she was being prideful to look down upon them. Mr. Darcy did not actually find Elizabeth herself to be what he felt was beneath his notice—it was her family.

Also, the sentiments of Elizabeth and Margaret were quite different. What I said in the description there was not actually quite true on Margaret's account; she did not really grow to dislike Mr. Thornton more before he proposed. She had a little esteem that sort of went off and on, and if anything she might have thought a little better of him at that point than she did to begin with.

Speaking of which, the characters of the heroines and heroes are just so completely different from each other in the two stories. Especially Elizabeth and Margaret. Waaaaay different personalities going on. Since their temperaments and outlooks on life are so different, it's another thing that makes the stories differ.

And about the pride and prejudice thing. The fact is, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth both exhibit both traits themselves, and though some people attribute pride to Mr. Darcy and prejudice to Elizabeth, they both have a their share of both. Think about how Mr. Darcy was prejudiced coming to “an assembly such as this” in Meryton. (It’s obviously pointed out that he is proud, so I need not go into that.) He was also prejudiced as to Jane Bennet, believing that she did not really care for Mr. Bingley, rather because that is what he expected. Elizabeth was not really prejudiced about Mr. Darcy until he slighted her at the Meryton ball, which was a founded prejudice, if you ask me. Then she heard the untruth concerning Mr. Wickham and believed it. (You don’t see anything like this in N&S—if anybody is ever mistaken about the other, it is Mr. Thornton mistaken about Margaret and her brother, so there again we have the heroes and heroines not matching up between the two stories.) Then think of her reaction to his proposal. Remember that “had not your pride been hurt by my honest confession of the scruples that had long prevented my forming any serious design”? Or when Elizabeth herself said “I could more easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.” There, Elizabeth herself just pointed out that they were both proud in their ways. Although she was half-joking there, and did not think pride was an admirable trait. That doesn't mean she didn't have it, though.

But back to what I was saying before. As for Mr. Thornton, I would have to say he didn’t demonstrate much prejudice, although he could be called proud in his way.

One could try to draw a similarity between Mr. Darcy saving Elizabeth’s honor by settling the affair with Lydia and Wickham and Mr. Thornton saving Margaret’s honor by making sure there was not an inquest in the affair with her and her brother (though he did not know it was her brother) at the station. Well, those were not at all the same when you get down to the technicalities. For one thing, in P&P Elizabeth became even more attached to Mr. Darcy after he did that for her family (for her, in point of fact); in N&S Margaret’s true feelings are rather unclear, but what she feels the most in the situation is mortification that Mr. Thornton should know that she lied. They’re just completely different situations. Mr. Darcy did it for Elizabeth with the full knowledge that it was because he loved her and wanted to save her from scandal; Mr. Thornton tried to convince himself first that he's doing it not for her sake really, but because of what he 'used to' feel for her (heh, heh, heh...) and finally he decides upon using his friendship with her father as an excuse. (Yeah, he's doing it for Mr. Hale. Uh-huh.) However, Mr. Darcy knew Elizabeth was blameless, whereas Mr. Thornton all along was tormented by the probability that Margaret was not at all blameless.

Then Mr. Thornton goes on to explain to Margaret that all his feelings are passed, of course, and that he didn’t really do it for her—pretty much the exact opposite of Mr. Darcy. (Although in the book we see that all along Mr. Thornton loved Margaret and this time, so HE who lied too… ahem. Oh Mr. Advocate for Truth, take a look at your own self.)

Furthermore, a big part of the story in P&P is that Mr. Darcy was struggling against his own better judgment to lower himself enough to actually acknowledge his feelings for Elizabeth. In N&S it wasn’t this way at all; Mr. Thornton knew that Margaret probably considered herself above him and if he hesitated in his affection it was because he felt she could never care for him.

They both deal with social class, yes. But it’s on a different plane entirely. P&P is all about The Gentry. N&S has a great deal to do with tradesmen manufacturers.

As for the rest of the story, it is all so different. Not only is it “darker,” it’s just… different. Margaret’s family situation, for starters. Mr. Thornton is a great friend of Mr. Hale and pays kind attentions to Mrs. Hale when she’s ill and all that. The main driving force in the story, I would say, is how Margaret adapts to living somewhere and being with people totally different than what she had experienced so far, and facing lots and lots of change in her life that forces her to lose the simplicity of her former existence. There isn’t anything like that in P&P at all; I would say the they-don’t-like-each-other-oh-wait-now-he-likes-her-but-she-doesn't-like-him-but-then-she-discovers-she’s-wrong-and-it-ends-happily is a bigger deal in P&P.

Now that almost makes it seem like I’m bashing P&P or something, but trust me when I say I’m not trying to do that AT ALL. P&P is my favorite book, my favorite story in the world. I much, much prefer it to N&S. I like the “Light & Bright & Sparkling”-ness of it. It’s so cleverly devised and wittily written, and not at all cheesy or silly, as somebody who gets the wrong impression from very little knowledge of it might think. I greatly admire N&S and think it’s a marvelous and clever story, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But I couldn’t have a steady diet of it. It’s much too heavy and could be tiring if one has an overdose of it. I cannot imagine having an overdose of P&P. ;)

I wish I knew whether Elizabeth Gaskell liked Jane Austen… I haven’t been able to find out. Does anybody know? I know that Mrs. Gaskell was actually acquainted and friends with Charlotte Bronte, who is infamous for not liking Jane Austen, but I suppose it does not necessarily follow that Elizabeth Gaskell doesn’t like her. One CAN be friends despite one liking Jane Austen and the other disliking her…
…or can they?

Kidding. Sort of.

And now, since I have run out of rambles, I’ll move on to point number 3.
Mr. Collins and Henry Lennox are two very, very different matters. Mr. Collins is a wife-hunter and—well, we all know what he is. Icky. Henry Lennox, on the other hand, is a respectable young man whom Margaret actually likes—but not in that way. He would annoy her as a husband. Also, he is not a wife-hunter at all; it’s one of those cases where a man doesn't believe in thinking about marriage until he's 'made himself', but then meets with a woman who changes his mind. Unfortunately for him, he has to be disappointed.

Now, personally I don’t much like Henry. He rather annoys me. I think I would like the book’s Henry a great deal more than the movie’s, but… still can't say I exactly like him. But anyway, he is not at all repulsive. Like Mr. Collins.

4 - We all know how different this is. I just stuck that in there for fun. The reason Mrs. Thornton confronted Margaret was not at all similar to why Lady Catherine visited Elizabeth. I don’t even need to explain if you know the stories.

And as for 5… Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Bennet, two very different cases. Mrs. Hale did complain a lot about Helstone when they lived there, but of course regretted it later on when she had Milton to deal with. And Mrs. Hale really WAS ailing, whereas Mrs. Bennet was what they call a hypochondriac.

Number 6 is not anything to dispute, just a trivia fact.

If you were comparing the mini-series of N&S with P&P, you might say that something happened at the beginning of the heroine's acquaintances with the heroes to immediately promote a dislike, but as this is not the way it was in the book of N&S, I say it can't be counted. ;)

In short, the stories themselves are so very, very different and have traits all their own that though a few comparisons can be made, it is not sufficient to make them similar enough to be mentioned hand-in-hand as I have seen done.

There now. That, everybody, is my opinion. Do any of you agree with me? Of course, you may tell me if you disagree too, although that will provoke me to argue my case and I do so hate debating. :P
(I am only teasing. Do not mind me. I mean, I do dislike debating, but I'm not forbidding you to say you disagree. Haha.)

Would you rather hear the story...

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