Diary of a 21st Century Janeite
For Austen in August 2017
*NOTE: Portions of this guest post were previously published on Jorie Loves A Story. In regards to language, I’m a dyslexic writer who writes in a hybrid style of AmeriBrit English as a way to offset my dyslexia and fuell my own literary voice. Ancestrally, I am British and bookishly I am definitively an Anglophile.
I am not sure when the exact moment occurred in my childhood, but I started to feel a kinetic bond with Jane Austen, to the brink I knew once I started to read her beloved works, … I would become a Janeite. She simply had a convincing way of expressing life as it was lived during her own era, of the minute details of ordinary life intermingled with the reflections of a keen observant eye. My first forays into Austen’s canons was a bit of a hit/miss for me, as I began originally with “Sense & Sensibility”, although I attributed this false start due to what had been on my mind and heart at the time I had first picked it up.
I purposely have been seeking out after canon sequels and/or re-tellings of the collective works of Jane Austen as I wanted to reacquaint myself with Austen through self-directed studies and step back through a door I had not yet fully opened.
It was not until Keira Knightley’s edition of “Pride & Prejudice” (adaptation) where I was able to ascertain the focus I wanted to garnish for Austen, as I nestled into a pocket edition of Pride. A full fortnight passed, and I was anxiously worried that the film might leave our cineplex, only to be relieved that it hadn’t and I promptly found myself elated by what was unfolding in front of me! As it began, I noted the creative liberties, but I also had the re-collective memories of what I had read, as it nearly felt for the first half of the film, that I was both reading a subtext of narration alongside the live action!
Knightley’s motion picture will always hold a special place in my heart, despite what others might express on her behalf. I already ruminated previously that Colin Firth’s mini-series would be my most adored adaptation, but there is always room for adaptations that draw a measure of liberty with their scope.
I felt (at the time) as I read “Sense & Sensibility: A Latter Day Tale” during #AustenInAugustRBR, I was one step closer to my goals of reading through the breadth of Jane Austen and the authors who are as transfixed on her legacy as I am myself. Except to say, the opposite happened – I took a full absence from reading anything remotely Austen!
Somewhere in the early 2000s
I still remember my excitement about the film adaptation of ‘Sense & Sensibility’ being released starring Emma Thompson. At the time, I had become aware of her growth behind the camera inasmuch as her intention to seek out different roles which enriched her life as an actress. I was dearly curious about how she approached this film and I still remember what my Mum did to surprise me – as I was contemplating a future in film-making (at the time) – I remember I came home one day finding a lovely bundle awaiting me!
She had found an exclusively lovely edition of the novel, as well as the full screenplay and story of how the adaptation of 1995 had been produced. It was my intent to read the book, then the screenplay, and lead into watching the motion picture! Alas! I had to give in to the fact that my mind couldn’t yet settle into Austen’s brilliant prose, and I tabled the idea for awhile.
I remember feeling Austen might be a bit out of my depth at the time – there were moments where I had tried to pick up her collective works, finding myself unable to attach myself into her words & narrative. Other times, I would pick up one of her stories and not only would I feel so rooted into the pages of her thoughts, but I could speak in a pattern of speech similar to hers once I had put the book down. Almost as if my heart and mind were still remembering the synchronicity.
Being an appreciator of PBS, I was wholly enthused by the adaptation of ‘Emma’ arriving during the Autumn I was feeling an inclination towards resuming my readings of Jane Austen. I even remember wanting to read ‘Emma’ ahead of this adaptation – in the end, I watched the first few serial installments as they first aired before recognising I was short-changing myself. I truly needed to read the book first before I fully aligned myself back into the adaptation.
I was so caught up in the moment of watching the series, I had forgotten how much I dearly wanted to read the stories and then, follow through with how they were adapted. My internal conflict was so intense, I had to turn away from the tv and pretend it wasn’t airing – as I felt I had rushed getting back into the afterglow of Austen without fully giving myself the background of how Austen’s narratives were so strongly conceived as to give flight to their own ruminations outside of the modern adaptations.
Books and motion pictures walk hand-in-hand in my life, despite the fact that I am generally a purist, in wanting to read the book prior to watching the motion picture and/or limiting myself to which sequel authors I want to become engaged in reading, as I always feel they should honour the canon.
I had the opportunity to interview an author on behalf of his Jane Austen after canon entitled “A Jane Austen Daydream”. At the time, I felt like I was living inside my own ‘Austen daydream’ because I hadn’t fully crossed the bridge between girlhood wonderment, adult curiosity and a Classical soul striving towards personal literary enlightenment. I was also a member of The Classics Club who was struggling to find her feet inside the challenge she had set down for herself to utilise a passage back into the origins of Literature whilst re-establishing her bookish muse for the Classical authors who charmed her mind by their enchanting worlds and strong characters.
Participating in my first #AustenInAugustRBR felt surreal – I had hoped to launch my blog in time to join the book blogosphere event but when I realised I had made it into the even itself, it nearly felt as if I had stepped through a new door where the bookish regularly meet-up and chatter about the stories which give them the most joy to read. I had earmarked myself to focus on “Pride and Prejudice” as this was my first Austen novel I quite literally devoured, savoured and spent a considerable amount of time contemplating long after I put the book back on my bookshelf. I knew I wanted to start to read the sequels & re-tellings – including the Jane Austen Mysteries, which in of themself are not directly tied to one particular story.
I wanted Pride to serve as a proper starting off point to entertain sequel authors for the first time in my reading life! I sought out everything that my local library could give me, and came to appreciate the offerings long before I ever could read them! As soon as I checked them out, one by one, I would love over their covers, inlets, and read the synopsis, awaiting the day where I could dive into the heart of their stories!
The story of Pride and Prejudice, will always be rather dear to me, because of Elizabeth Bennett. I feel as though from the very first opening chapter until the closing of the last, I am walking in Ms. Elizabeth Bennett’s shoes. Struggling at times to understand the indifference of her family, and the qualms that beseech a singleton whilst attempting to understand the opposite sex. She is bemused and befuddled by the man named Darcy, who from the onset makes no attempt to gain her attention, and has an ill-view of her family overall. She is a second daughter, in a family of five, who is deeply attached to the love and affection of her father, and is at times, more at quells with her mother, who tends to put the family in a bad light when out in public; due to the nature of her outbursts that do not always comply with the social norms of the day in which they live.
It’s Elizabeth’s determination not to settle for someone less than her equal and a man of quality, that makes me endeavoured to love her! She stands firm in her beliefs, at all costs, and she isn’t quick to acknowledge a grievous mistake or misunderstanding, but her heart and spirit, does not allow her not to oblige a concession when the need arises that she has to omit a fault made on her own behalf. She lives strong and loves deeply. And, I appreciate that she is completely true to herself throughout the sequence of her life we are given to seeing her. She is a woman who is sorting out how to live and how to proceed forward in her life, by not limiting her options, nor settling for what she knows will be wrong for her heart. For in marriage, as Ms. Bennett and I both know, one must lead forward with one’s heart, and be entwined in true love for the relationship to last forevermore. – quoted from my review of “Pride & Prejudice”
I took a chance on re-watching ‘Lost in Austen’ which I had seen earlier in 2013 whilst attempting to read more Classical After Canons for Austen. I loved how I felt lost inside a bubble world of where Jane Austen was being acknowledged both in a serious and humourous light – it was about how our affinity for an author can either remain a healthy curiosity or an obsession where we might need to take a step back from overindulging!
Being a 21st Century Janeite doesn’t have a path to follow – we each alight inside Ms Austen’s world(s) at a pacing which suits our own individual needs and curiosities about her collective works. For me personally, I have felt so wholly attached to her on a personal level (as there are bits of her life’s story & writerly path which I can relate too) I think part of me has held myself back from reading her as quickly as I perhaps ought to have over the years. Not to rush the joy of her stories – but perhaps not have lengthened out my ‘meeting’ of her works spilt between my twenties and thirties!
One reason I am attracted to Jane Austen’s writings is how she has a keenly supreme sense of observation which matches her equally desirable sophisticated wit! I love how she etches out her living reality into works of fiction which lay down a foundation of how life was once lived but also, readily observed from the ‘outside’. She took to her pen to carve out characters and stories which not just cross-relate to the reader who finds them (even centuries later) but they are written on a level of literary intuitiveness for knowing what readers are seeking out of a particular style of narrative.
I have a penchant for relationship-based Romances inasmuch as I love getting dearly attached to generational sagas. This cross-love of mine threads well into Austen’s works – as she had her own particular niche of identifying what we are most curious about as fellow humans who are seeking to understand human behaviour, patterns of relationships and the curious undertones of duty and responsibility in extended families.
I am also a girl who lives a step outside of her own time-line – I prefer vintage over modern (ie. everything from home furnishings to desiring to pen my stories on my lovely vintage Royal typewriter), I’ve been a postal mail correspondent since I was eleven, I appreciate the creativity of old world arts & crafts (ie. currently: I knit) and I fancy the old fashioned way in how we meet those of whom we wish to court. I even love how there are still ways in which to meet (potential) suitors through moderated services of match-making wherein once two people connect, they can correspond ahead of meeting in person.
There is something quite special about Jane Austen. Even if we are taking a route which only makes sense to ourselves back into the folds of her literary works whilst embracing a few modern writers’ visions as well (which feel as if they’re in step with paying homage to the canons) – one thing which remains eternally true, is how classically relatable Ms Austen has become universally inspiring each of us in turn.
I’m still evolving as a Janeite – yet part of what makes me a Janeite will always remain. I, first and foremost, appreciate the dedication of Ms Austen, of whom followed her own instincts and wrote the stories which gave her the most joy to create. She didn’t parlay into what was readily popular, but instead chose the stories which percolated out of her own heart and imagination; giving her a freedom not many writers have today.
Austen & After Canon Bibliography via Jorie Loves A Story:
My gratitude to Adam of Roof Beam Reader for allowing me the grace of participating this #AustenInAugustRBR with a Guest Topic of my choice! Bless you, Adam and thank you for uniting all of us: Austenites & Janeites, together!
Jorie’s Question to Participants in Austen in August:
Which stories by Austen do you most relate to yourself? How do you approach your own passage back into Jane Austen’s muse and the after canons which have been writ out of writers’ conjoined passion for granting new insight into Austen’s collective works and/or character lives?