There's something about Jane Austen

By Emily Jenkins

By Salon Staff
July 31, 2000 11:05PM (UTC)
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Emily Jenkins, how right you are. There is no modern-day Austen, and more's the pity. But this is worse: that Austen lived for so short a time, that she only produced six complete novels, that some time must necessarily pass between reading and re-reading them.

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Into these interludes of longing comes the temptation to try out a sequel or an adaptation -- and with the exception of "Clueless" and "Bridget Jones' Diary," heartbreak ensues. The above work for two main reasons: They're not ONLY adaptations, and they retain the wit that so many Austen imitators do not. Watch or read without having the foggiest notion of who Jane Austen is, and it won't matter a bit.

I save MY regrets for the movie versions that seem to think that Austen's novels are works-in-progress. Thank you, Patricia Rozema, for your rape of "Mansfield Park." It was only Austen's most misunderstood and brilliant novel, but congratulations: It is now a film that will at best bore and at worst outrage.

-- Haley Kish

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Emily Jenkins is not bad as an Austen critic -- for someone who evidently has no sense of humor and doesn't get the jokes!

For example: When Elizabeth Bennett claims she began to fall in love with Mr. Darcy when she saw his estate, she is teasing her sister Jane by posing as a crass, mercenary creature.

Rather than expressing "bitterness," Austen's tongue is planted firmly in her cheek when she avers that for most men "imbecility in females is a great enhancement of their personal charms."

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In "Northanger Abbey," when Austen tells us Catherine Morland's background is not that of a typical heroine, she means the typical heroine of the Gothic romance, of which the book itself is an extended parody and satire.

-- Taras Wolansky


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