Friday 3 January 2014

That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment - Mary Ann Shaffer

Despite my recent reservations, I continue to indulgence myself. And have just finished Pride & Prejudice. Accompanied by a whole lot of Galaxy chocolate. Although the less said about that, the better.

P&P was totally delightful. As was to be expected. And all the more so as it comforted me through a dreadful 1 January 2014 of gales and torrential rain. Charming, romantic, funny. And featuring Mr Darcy. All in one. Who could ask for anything more?

Austen's musings on love and lovers cannot be anything less than delightful. With Charlotte's apparent cynicism, Mary's stoic pronunciations and Lizzie's carefree - and at times careless - commentaries. It has everything to please.

Silly characters abound, for sure, in both female and male form. And in all levels of society. But this gives all the more grace and elegance to the main characters and their stories.

I admit that I do tend to find Jane and Mr Bingley's tales a tad insipid. Still the fiery misunderstandings and prideful foot-stamping of Lizzie and Mr Darcy more than compensate. Two characters ultimately so alike. Both big fish in their own spheres. Both outspoken and admired. Both despising inferior minds and inferior behaviour.

The collision of these two worlds, and the resulting indiscretions, provide great entertainment and admirable romance. 

Re-reading it after so many years, I realised how faithful was/is the BBC's rendering of the novel. Apart from the licence taken to have Mr Darcy dive into a lake after his long ride home from London. But who am I to quibble on such minor additions. Inspired as they are.

The BBC can usually be relied on to make both faithful and truly entertaining interpretations of most writings. However, I must inscribe here my great disliking of its recent production of Emma. I hasten to add that my love for the novel renders me a tad unyielding in such matters. And that having seen most of the productions in her name, I am not best enamoured by any of them. There would seem to be a wilful desire to misrepresent her (as I read her). Instead of a self-important, cheeky but loving daughter, she is portrayed as a selfish, almost spiteful and emotionally-stunted, manipulative girl, mocking and belittling her father amongst others.

No, no, no. Only the 1996 version starring Kate Beckinsale comes close to holding a balance of the contradictions that are Emma. Her silliness and sincerity. Self-importance and attention to duty. Propriety and indiscretions. The scenes of her reveries help us to laugh both at and with her. And thus we have enough sympathy to like her in the end, and rejoice with her in her happiness.

I don't say it's a perfect version, by any means. But it is the only one I can tolerate. Intolerant as I am.  :0(

Amidst the novels and screen versions of them, I'm beginning to feel trapped in JA. Not unpleasant in itself. But I do wonder if I should not move on to another author. It's not like there aren't others (and lists of them) waiting to be read by me. Still why change a winning formula. I'm finishing books again. What to do, what to do...

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