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30 December 2011 @ 09:05 pm
make hay not war  
So it's nearly 2012! I didn't really notice except for how I kept trying to write 1/12/11 instead of 1/1/12 on the blood forms. My brain? Not that quick on the uptake.

Instead of talking about that, I'm going to relate instead my experiences with a certain part of the internet that has been exercising me greatly in the last few days. It is nothing other than the proliferation of blogs belonging to women (I think I can safely say they're ALL women) who write Jane Austen fanfic.

They don't call it Jane Austen fanfic, of course. They call these barques of intrepid genius sequels - and lolariously, each of them refers to their sequel as 'the' sequel. But they ARE fanfic. Unlike fanfic they are generally just bad, at least from the excerpts. (Fanfic has a rollicking bell curve, from HIDEOUS to actual near-on genius. Not so here; everything is painfully average.) I've read two published ones as well, but I actually thought they were rare. MORE FOOL ME. I went looking for Pride and Prejudice fanfic about a year ago and came up empty-handed. Now I know the reason: people have copped that you can charge for it.

What I find oddest about these 'authors' is how weirdly they approach Austen's work. One of them keeps quoting from the novels as if they were factual sets of opinions that Austen had just strung together. I know we all love lambasting authors for being crap with women, POC, rape etc, but when it comes right down to it, unless expressly stated, opinions in a book are the opinions of the characters, not the author. Sure, they might tally closely - or exactly, if you're inclined to self-insertion - but technically they can't be taken as the author's one true stance on ANYTHING.

One hates Fanny Dashwood, and said she fastforwards the first scene in Emma Thompson's version of S&S where Fanny talks John out of giving his sisters any money. Aside from the fact that the scene is superlative, in dialogue, setting, action and acting ... hating the 'evil' characters - whether Fanny, Mrs Norris or Lady Catherine - seems to me to defeat the purpose of liking Austen at all. Anyone could have written Elizabeth and Darcy. It takes an extremely talented connoisseur of human folly to create Mr and Mrs Bennet.

Someone - I think on ferretbrain - said once that Jane Austen hated everyone. I can totally accept this take. I meet a LOT of people in my line of work and I hate most of them. I don't think you can write the way she did without at least a kernel of hardcore bitterness. If she'd been a man in a larger world she might not have the Elizabeths, Elinors or Annes, but I think the secondary characters would have stayed. They make the books for me. It's a shame that modern romance authors of all stripes use the tried-and-tested and utterly boring paths that those heroines trod and don't explore the far more interesting, and numerically more common, motorways of the Mr Collinses of this world.

One blogger/author wanted Lady Catherine to get her comeuppance in her 'the' sequel. Er, I'm not sure how you could top HAVING HER SUPER-DOOPER ARRANGED MARRIAGE PLANS SCUPPERED. One blogger/author said she followed the plot of Persuasion with utmost pedantry so she could make sure every plot-point tallied in her 'the' sequel. The first line of her blurb? States that Anne Elliot's FATHER was the one who convinced her to give up Wentworth. DING DING, WRONG ANSWER. I'm pretty sure that Anne would have gone ahead with the engagement had she Lady Russell's blessing, but the point is moot; it's Lady Russell that Wentworth despises. He and Anne both see that Sir Walter is nothing more than a blustering nincompoop. This same author 'interviews' Anne Elliot to promote her novel. It was the weirdest and most disturbing thing I've ever read, even allowing for the fact that the woman has no hold on Anne's character whatsoever.

Many of you, like myself, probably adore the multiple adaptations of Jane Austen films, like Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park, and well…Persuasion. Yet, how many of you have the patience to tackle the Napoleonic-Era verbiage novels? Thus came my inspiration to introduce my friends to the magic of Jane’s pen in a language a modern day woman can relate to.

It's not that I have no words. I have MANY words. Most of them are FUCK. The rest are YOU.

I'm pretty sure this can all be blamed on Colin Firth. These women want to self-insert into Jennifer Ehle's shoes so they can see His Wetness up close. That's fair enough, but I'm surprised they don't acknowledge it ... then again, how many people acknowledged that it was Tom Felton that turned them on to Draco Malfoy, not JK's superb and subtle rendering of a bully with a heart of gold (or whatever)? In my case, it was fandom that turned me on to him, but Tom Felton sure did help.

Me? I'd take Mr Bennet any day.

... and in a semi-related note, could Andrew Davies maybe stop writing the scripts to EVERY AUSTEN ADAPTATION EVER? He wasn't bad in P&P, maybe because he stuck pretty much exactly to the book's dialogue, but when he was left loose on S&S his deficits really started to show. I'm about to watch the Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey he wrote and, well, I'm apprehensive. (Also because BILLIE PIPER.)
 
 
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l.m.: pic#110419788incandescent on December 31st, 2011 02:58 am (UTC)
I did read a Sense and Sensiblity/Doctor Who crossover once that was quite lovely. If you're interested, I'm sure I could find the link for you. It was a beautiful fic, and though I'm not the Austen scholar that you appear to be (impressive, this entry is), I felt that the story was very true to Austen's characters and tone.

I've never read any of these sequels, though, and I don't plan to. On first glance they just seem to be cheap imitations and parodies of something that is perfect in itself. Fanfiction is one thing I think, especially since it's borne from a love of characters and plot. But publishing this stuff? I'm so skeptical is isn't funny.

Oh! I read a review for...Death Comes to Pemberly by PD James in the NYT Book Review, and it was very flattering. If you haven't yet, you might want to give that 'sequel' a try. I recall the review said that it was very true to Austen and even refreshing. Hang on...here is the review. From what I can tell, you might enjoy it. :)

Which one is Piper in? I loved her in Secret Diary of a Call Girl, mostly because she was frequently nude, I think. completely shameless

I love these entries, by the way.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: unicornscoradh on December 31st, 2011 09:36 am (UTC)
Haha, I'm far from an Austen scholar. I just happen to have read all her books so many times that I'm super familiar with the characters. It's fun to read academic dissections of her work for just that reason. Trying to analyse someone like Dickens, on the other hand, would be a delusion and a snare.

I've actually seen a review for that in the Sunday Times. What puts me off is the murder mystery element. Crime is SO not my genre. And if Dorothy L Sayers couldn't turn me on to it I doubt PD James will succeed in doing so.

Exactly! You can't get much further from Fanny the Mouse Price. I wish I could trust the versatility of her acting, but ... I don't.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Cupcakes: blueberriesscoradh on December 31st, 2011 09:39 am (UTC)
Oh and it's Mansfield Park. Reading comprehension: 0
l.m.incandescent on January 1st, 2012 03:05 pm (UTC)
Oh! You are that most rare of things found in the wild, a natural Austen scholar! Good for you. I've always been a mystery reader, so that book is right up my alley. I always recommend mysteries, so I guess that's a bias.

Can't wait to hear how Mansfield Park goes. I saw her in something period and it was...not great. Oh well. I'd love to hear what you think about this one. :)
Sereniaserenia on December 31st, 2011 05:01 am (UTC)
Jane Austin fanfic kind of sounds like sacrilege to me! I'm making an effort to read some classics now that the ipad has them at my fingertips. I did rather enjoy Mansfield Park, and I didn't hate Fanny nearly as much as the introduction assumed I would (if we were going to talk about heroines I hate, we'd be talking Anna Karenina!). That's the only Jane Austen story I've read so far. I keep meaning to watch all the TV releases, but since it means sitting there by myself, I haven't gotten around to it yet.

I'm currently wrestling with Honore de Balzac's 'Scenes from a Courtesan's Life', but I find his language heavy going, since I'm usually half-asleep by the time I get to read at night!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: jillicons: disco rabbitsscoradh on December 31st, 2011 09:48 am (UTC)
It's the fact that it's bad fanfic that gets me. Then again the quality of any given fanfic seems to bear an inverse relation to the quality of the source material.

Mansfield Park is my favourite! Most people hate Fanny Price because she's everything twenty-first century values invalidate, but I love her. :)

I only know a couple of his poems, which are awesomely cynical. I'm reading Stefan Zweig's Beware of Pity, which my dad actually bought my mother for Christmas. ANYWAY!

Edited at 2011-12-31 09:51 am (UTC)
me: :(surexit on December 31st, 2011 07:35 am (UTC)
Many of you, like myself, probably adore the multiple adaptations of Jane Austen films, like Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park, and well…Persuasion. Yet, how many of you have the patience to tackle the Napoleonic-Era verbiage novels? Thus came my inspiration to introduce my friends to the magic of Jane’s pen in a language a modern day woman can relate to.

DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE.

I mean, not literally. BUT OH GOD. Verbiage? Verbiage?!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Eddie Izzard: cake or death?scoradh on December 31st, 2011 09:43 am (UTC)
It's the same women who long for the Regency as a more refined and gentle time, when people bowed instead of having sex. Hate to break it to them that it was the most debauched era of the 19th century and the gowns of which they're so fond were expressly designed to make women look naked ... but hey, that's probably too much verbiage right there.
mesurexit on January 1st, 2012 04:35 am (UTC)
:O I did not know that about the gowns, that's kind of awesome.
lstinhpfdmlstinhpfdm on January 6th, 2012 07:17 am (UTC)
A few years ago, shortly after reading an annotated version of Pride & Prejudice I got a one of these bad fan-fiction books and was appalled at how anyone could write about that time and get it PUBLISHED without knowing anything about the history. Gave up on the genre.

I didn't post last week when I saw this, but today I noticed one of my favorite authors P.D. James has tried her hand at this. Have you seen it? "Death Comes to Pemberly" Now I'm curious, should I try it out? I've never read anything by P.D. James I haven't liked.