Friday, January 18, 2013

What Would Jane Think?

Keira Knightley and Rosamund Pike in the 2005 film "Pride and Prejudice"

It is interesting to think about Jane Austen and what she would have thought about her fame today. Could she ever have imagined the extent of it?   It is amazing to think of all the movies, television series and books that have been based on her novels and her life.  She is one of the most beloved and well-known writers in the world and her future fame was surely beyond her imagination.  She would certainly have been astonished and delighted by all the attention the 200th anniversary (on January 28) of "Pride and Prejudice" is getting.  She called this book her "darling child." There are lectures, newspaper and magazine articles, radio programs, exhibitions, and even a BBC television special which recreates the Netherfield Ball as described in "Pride and Prejudice." (Read more here.)   It was shot on location at Chawton house in Hampshire, England, the home of Jane Austen.  All of these programs and articles are examining the reasons for and celebrating the enduring popularity of this novel.

Take a look at this short film about Jane Austen called The Divine Jane.  It was part of an exhibition I saw at the Morgan Library in New York two years ago, A Woman's Wit: Jane Austen's Life and Legacy.   In this excellent film, actors, writers and scholars talk about Jane Austen and what she has meant to them.      

Part one of "The Divine Jane"

Part two of "The Divine Jane"

I hope you enjoy it!


  1. Perfect timing for this, Sunday!
    I'm out of town for my classics book club meeting tomorrow and we are reading Sense and Sensibility! I'll share this with everyone. I know they'll love it.

  2. I loved watching those films Sunday, thank you for posting them. Joanne

  3. Sunday, Thank you so much for sharing these two clips. How amazing it would be to have the opportunity to read from an original manuscript of Jane Austen. What would she think? I hope she would view her popularity and longevity with a smile and think to herself, "they got it". Bonnie

  4. Love her writing...what a great couple of clips.
    Thank you Sunday!

  5. I appreciate the stimulation in your question and the responsibility you exercise so well, not to project a taste for fame as we understand it upon a writer deserving our understanding. I came to appreciate Austen best when I renounced the expectation we all tend to be raised with, that great art will be defined by its understanding of us. She is a great exponent of particulars in a world as anxious as ours, but not always in the same terms, for universals. For this she commands, by dint of that effort and no other, profound respect and recurring study.

  6. Oh thanks for those videos - particularly liked Siri Hustvedt talking about P&P. If only some more of the letters had survived - or perhaps Cassandra's letters to Jane - we may have learned a little more about her reactions to the attention the books were receiving in her own lifetime.

    I'm going to get tickets to the Oxford Literary Festival this year to see Paula Byrne talk about her new biography of Austen. Can't wait!