Meet Me in Decatur!

It’s less than a week until the Decatur Book Festival near my former home of Atlanta, Georgia. The festival sounds wonderfully exciting, and the good people of the Jane Austen Society of North America-Georgia chapter have gone to extraordinary lengths to bring Jane to the Festival. The even attracts 100,000 annually and, although not all are Austen lovers, I imagine that more readers will be exposed to Austen and her literary progeny at one time than ever before.

A book festival–what a wonderful thing in a time when “story” is making another leap in form, spreading further into lives as ebooks living in “clouds”! Whatever would Jane think? Even fifteen years ago when I first started writing An Assembly Such as This, such a thing was not on my horizon. I thought I was quite up on technology by writing by computer rather than with pen and paper, composing by the soft click of the keyboard rather than the explosive bang of the typewriter. So now the dream is to appear in e-ink and be drawn down from a cloud into people’s lives via such strange sounding devices as Nooks and Kindles that will read to you as well, rather than enshrined in bound paper packages.

What will be next? Book glasses, I suppose. Text will stream across the lenses and a tiny microphone will chirp the text to you in surround-sound realism, complete with a musical score. And Jane will make that leap as well: deftly , gracefully, compellingly. Technology nor shifting public taste will hinder her advance through cultures because she writes of the human heart in all its “follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies” that lead it into joy and sorrow in every culture, in every time. Although we are not early 19th century ladies and gentleman, we can still recognize ourselves and our neighbors in her words and, perhaps, understand and profit from that recognition to become the gracious ladies and gentlemen of our own times.

Hope to see you in Decatur!

Pamela

PS There’s a list of all the Austen authors at the festival and a give away contest  of An Assembly Such as This and Young Master Darcy at Darcyholicsdiversions.com. Scurry on over!

Advertisements

Mr. Knightly and Winner #2

Mr Knightley

As many of you guessed, the actor who inspired wails in the tiniest actresses in Emma was Mark Strong/Mr. Knightly.  Perhaps that experience is why he has since played villains!

Several of you expressed dissatisfaction with Mssr. Strong as Emma’s Mr. Knightly, but I confess I like him the best and perhaps for the same reasons some have called him “stern,” though I never saw it. Well, actually, yes I have, and his characterization (or his director’s) rang true to me…much more so than Jeremy Northam’s version. When Strong’s Knightly says, “Badly done, Emma, badly done!” the weight of his censure is heavy, indeed. On the other hand, but in likewise seriousness, we have his portrayal of concern for Harriet’s shunning at the ball. Here is a man who feels his duties deeply and performs them from a tender heart. I just thought Mark Strong did that beautifully and conveyed throughout his patient love for Emma and desire for her real ‘improvement” in ways unplumbed by subsequent actors. I don’t know how he feels about his work in Emma, but I think it a highlight of his career. I can’t say that I’ve seen him in anything since that even came close! IMHO of course!

Naturally, these opinions beg the question of what Austen was meaning to portray in the person of Mr. Knightly. Peter Leithart, a Fellow of Theology and Literature at New Saint Andrews College, has named Emma, as “Perhaps the most Christian novel Austen wrote:

Emma is concerned with the relations of charity and truth: it is about “speaking the truth in love,” or  more precisely, about truth-speaking as the path to love. Everyone around Emma flatters her, admires her, and generally regards her as a perfect specimen of womanhood. Only Mr. Knightly sees her as the flawed young women she really is, and only he tells her so, often in very blunt terms. Mr. Knightly is the right man for Emma precisely because he speaks truth.”  Later in his essay he states: “Knightly is the guide (to community through charity and by speaking truth) here, the savior who delivers Emma from her own folly and at the same time ensures the survival of the community of neighbors in Highbury”

Sound like Mark Strong’s Knightly? To those of you who would like to read Leithart’s essays on the rest of Austen’s novels, please get yourself a copy of Miniatures & Morals. You are in for a treat! After all, his first chapter is entitled “Real Men Read Austen.”

Click here to take a look or purchase!        

 

So…drum roll…the winner of a copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It! , signed by moi, is in the mail to Stephanie Carrico. Thank you to all who entered and keep up with my thoughts here at Traipsing After Jane or at Jane Started It!

~Pamela

“Just an old, little man”

Andrew Davies

That was how screenwriter Andrew Davies described himself in response to the standing ovation that greeted his ascent to the stage podium at the jam-packed JASNA session so many were ecstatic to attend. I think the self-deprecation was genuine–for the most part, but the gimlet gleam in his eye as the applause continued may have revealed how welcome the audience’s denial of such a label truly was. Physically, Mr Davies IS little, not much taller  at all than myself at 5’2″ and he is a bonafide senior citizen, having been born in Wales in 1936. But the appearance of this “old, little man” necessitated the kind of security measures one would not expect to encounter at a Jane Austen conference. One’s JASNA credentials were checked at the door before entry was permitted. You see, there were real threats from the Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South/Wives and Daughters) crowd that they intended to crash the proceedings!

Davies talk was entirely delightful, just what one would hope in terms of inside stories and fond memories of his various film adaptations of the novels we love so well, delivered with an endearing modesty and continued love for each one. I especially appreciated his review of his Sense and Sensibility, which I had placed secondary to Emma Thompson’s version. But as he went through some of the difficulties in bringing that work to screen, illustrating them with clips from the movie, I came to a higher opinion about both his version and the actors in it. Although I will always love Thompson’s version, Davies’ version demands more from it’s actors in it’s subtlety of expression and faithfulness to a more restrained and circumspect portrayal that is likely closer to the manners and conduct of the time and the characters as Austen drew them.

Of the many tidbits of insider information that Mr Davies shared with the audience, here is the first of two I will pass on.

CONTEST!

A copy of Young Master Darcy will be awarded to the name drawn from a hat of the pool of correct answers. Enter by subscribing to my blog and then commenting on this post. Remember to include your email address in your comment/vote. Entries will be taken for two weeks (Nov 1 – 14th) and the winner announced on the 15th.

Which of the following three scenes from Davies’ dramatization of Pride and Prejudice is his personal favorite?  Good luck!

~~Pamela

Elizabeth reads and responds to the letter/Darcy's voice over

Darcy responds to Elizabeth & Georgiana in the Music room

Wet-shirted Darcy startled by Elizabeth's presence at Pemberley