Monday, 26 May 2014

There is no friend as loyal as a book - Ernest Hemingway

And so to Sense & Sensibility. What can be said? That has not already been said a thousand times?

It was a good book on which to end my revisiting of Austen's novels. It is somehow so familiar, so endearing.

There is the steady Elinor to take us through. The long-suffering, stoic Elinor. So put-upon, so faithful. There is so much to admire in this respectful, diligent young lady. And yet few would admire her alongside the prettier, livelier Marianne.

She is abused by so many: a mother most puerile in her wants and actions; a sister almost indifferent to the world around her; the Jennings, the Ferrars; her brother, her lover, her lover's lover. And often the reader.

But I think we can all only rejoice at the vision of her happiness and emotional fulfilment at the close of the curtains.

This is a story we love to see on the screen. And although generally faithful, I often wonder at the need to embellish an already richly dramatic tale. Love and loss. Money and poverty. The intricacies and snobberies of class and social standing. Marianne's hysteria; Lucy's uncouthness. Willoughby's selfishness; the Jennings' crassness; the Dashwood's pomposity. Elinor and Colonel Brandon's selflessness. What more could you possibly ask for?

And so, that's all the Austen novels done. This time round. Read but not forgotten. There is a reason Jane Austen is hailed as one of the great novelists and held in such high esteem. And it's not just the tales she tells. Her inimitable way of seeing the world leaves a mark. Her quirky study of human nature. The beauty of her word use and composition. It all marks and stays with you like a warm mug of hot chocolate on an icy cold day. It is truly delightful and the ultimate feeling you would hope to get from the best hours of reading.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Books are like mirrors: if a fool looks in, you cannot expect a genius to look out - J. K. Rowling

Since my last post, many things have happened. Good and mediocre. But thankfully nothing bad. One of the more exciting things was watching a foal being born. But that's another story and another blog...

On the literary front, I have now finished Sense & Sensibility, and thus have completed my return journey through the Austen novels. And it has been truly delightful.

Even more exciting is that my blog has reached and passed 10,000 page views. Yey!

But back to Austen. And in particular, Mansfield Park. Following such an enjoyable read, I allowed myself to indulge in some light refreshment and took out the DVD interpretations. On a whim. And against my better judgement.

Now I won't dwell on this too much as I inflicted both productions on myself. And in fairness, although Billie Piper didn't strike me as Fanny Price material, at least the ITV version attempted to respect the novel. Dialogue came from the pages of Austen's work, even if it was not attributed to the characters she penned it from. And the overall story was conveyed. In general.

The 1999 film of the same name conveys the overall story even more generally. And from quite a distance may vaguely be associated with Austen's text. If you look really hard.

Call me a purist but I expect to see the book if I watch a film of the same name. Or at least elements of the book. And certainly the main protagonists. Fanny Price was conspicuously absent from the film. Replaced by a feisty young writer who was uncannily like Ms Austen herself in character...

But I will say no more. Each to their own. And this was not close to mine. It will be my endeavour to one day pen a script of my own of Mansfield Park. Just for the pure delight. And to see just how difficult it really is.