Tag Archives: jane austen

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Okay, so I am usually a purist when it comes to Jane Austen. For example, Lost in Austen: hated it. All those sequels to Pride and Prejudice where Mr. Darcy happens to really be a private investigator on random murder cases do not appeal to me, not that I’ve actually read them. So I could be persuaded, but it would take a lot of Persuasion. haha, get it? Persuasion? I know, not funny.

Anyway, I’m not a big fan of meddling with original Austen text. But I have to admit, there is a new project on YouTube that not only surprised me, but also makes me pretty happy. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries takes the form of a video blog in which a modern-day Elizabeth tells the story of Pride and Prejudice. I really am surprised at how much I have been enjoying each episode. Charlotte is behind the camera, and occasionally her sisters stop by (only two actually – Mary and Kitty are, sadly, cut out of the script). Even though the videos are scripted, they feel natural, and I actually enjoy the modern interpretation. But instead of rambling on about how great this is, I’ll just show you. Here is the first episode:

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The World of Jane Austen

I was thinking the other day about how “Jane Austen” is not just a name anymore. It’s not even just an author. Jane Austen is a world. A universe, if I’m not being too extreme. There are the books, the movies, the spin-offs. There are the costumes and the music and the dancing. But it’s more than just these things – Jane Austen is a mentality.

watercolor portrait of Jane Austen by her sister Cassandra

First let’s talk about the “things”… Best book – either Persuasion or Sense & Sensibility, in my opinion. Best movie – Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightley is the most artistically filmed, though Sense & Sensibility with Kate Winslet is maybe my favorite and the newest BBC Emma is excellent as well. Best spin-off? Anything but Lost in Austen. I think my fellow Austen followers will agree with me that the Regency costume definitely needs to come back in vogue, along with the elegant dancing. Tea-drinking and social calls and letter-writing and health trips to Bath. Need I say more?

I think I do. Jane Austen isn’t just about the stuff. Sure a girl wouldn’t mind dressing up in a white gauzy gown and satin slippers for the dance at the local aristocrat’s mansion. Sure she would love falling in love with a Mr. Darcy or a Mr. Knightley. But is this all that attract the millions of Austen fans?

Jane Austen means elegance. The Regency Period was a time of elegant living, at least for those above the lower class, or at least we imagine it was. Ladies and gentlemen spent their days in civilized refinement, guided by the uncompromising rules of etiquette. In our day and age, ordinary life can easily lose a little of this dignity, and though I’m sure the Regency Period had its own failings, we like to think it was a time of true elegance.

Jane Austen means femininity. A great deal of Austen appeal is due to the importance and value of femininity. Women today are expected to have successful careers as well as successful families, and much of feminine grace seems to be lost in the process. The women of Jane Austen, though they did not have as many legal rights as women today, were expert in the art of femininity.

Jane Austen means romance. Maybe it’s just me, but something precious is lost in romance when affection is put on a show through social networking, texting, voice mail messages. Perhaps it’s the lack of time and thought that is put into a relationship today. O, for the forgotten days of hand-written love letters, of marriage-minded men, of committed love.

Jane Austen means principle. Jane Austen is rooted in principle and truth. Today moral standards are being cut down, devaluing family and church. We long for a time when Lydia-and-Wickham affairs were considered scandalous. When “Will you marry me?” was the expected follow-up to “I love you.”

Jane Austen means beauty. Perhaps this is the summary of why we love Jane Austen. Beauty. An elegant, feminine, romantic, and principled life can’t help but be anything but beautiful. Jane Austen gives us a glimpse into a world that all too often isn’t matched by our own.

Living in the World of Jane Austen

We don’t live in the times of Jane Austen, but the women of today can still use what we learn from her world to better our own. Even in today’s modern society we can live with grace and elegance, not in an affected way, but by showing respect and kindness to those around us. We can express our femininity by swimming against the current of gender-role confusion. We can treat romance seriously, putting a greater value on real love. We can live principled lives, weighing right and wrong, being fearless in our stance of truth. We can discover the beauty of our world, giving more than taking. We can live our own Jane Austen lives in reality, going beyond the fiction and the fairytales. We can discover that daydreams really can help to create a better world.

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Stuck in a Hole

At times, I feel as if I am stuck in a hole with only Jane Austen and a cup of tea to keep me company. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. If I have to be in a hole, I’d rather have Jane Austen and a cup of tea than nothing at all.

Life comes at one with its arms full of machetes, battle-axes, and iron maidens, and one really should be quite grateful for the occasional hole to fall into. The hole can be quite nice, really. Lovely brown earthy walls make decorating a cinch, and I have always wanted to paint the ceiling to look like the sky. So there you have it: me, Jane Austen, a cup of tea (caffeinated, of course), and a possible pocketful of chocolate somethings-or-other inside my delightful hole with the blue-and-white sky for a ceiling.

When I’m down in the hole, I am free to let my hopes and dreams wander down paths that are simply unimaginable when above ground. For instance, perhaps a young and unbelievably handsome prince will come by one day and stumble into the hole. (At this point, I would knock back the rest of my tea, hide the chocolate somethings in the convenient dirt, and tuck J.A. in my back pocket for safekeeping.) The young and unbelievably handsome and possibly wealthy prince will most likely say something to the effect of:

“Tally Ho, you simply enchantingly posh princess-wannabe, today happens to be Impossible Wishes Come True Day.”

And he’ll let me stand on his unbelievably handsome head whilst I climb out of the hole only to find myself beneath the silvery walls of the prince’s castle.

Of course, the prince can’t be completely perfect. He will have to have some minor flaw so I will have something to think about while I ramble among the castle gardens and panda-bear-shaped hedgerows to pass the time. He might be stricken with the inability to tie his cleverly tailored shoes, for example. Or perhaps he might have an unreasonable detestation for Wednesday afternoons. Whatever his minor flaw might be, I know I will be able to overcome it because of how much I really love him.

Real love. Pardon me, but I should have said how much I make-believe love him. Someone pulled me out of the hole just now, so please excuse me. I really must get back to battling the mosquitoes.

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