Friday Buzz – Becoming Jane

I hate the thought of Anne Hathaway starring as Jane Austen in a movie about Jane Austen. Hathaway was too insipid even for the intrinsic insipidness of The Devil Wears Prada. I can’t even imagine that she’ll do justice to the Empire-waist fashion, much less the great authoress herself.

And now I suppose we’ll see Hathaway’s doe eyes and pouty lips on all future editions of Jane Austen novels. Publishers apparently are already touching up images of Austen, tarting poor old Jane up like the media whore they want her to be.

Verlyn Klinkenborg (with a name like that, she had to be a writer! Go, Veryln!) poses the sensible question in a New York Times op-ed piece: Why should we care what Jane Austen looked like? As Verlyn says, “No amount of biography — no grasp of the details of the life as it was lived — ever accounts for the transfiguration that takes place in the work itself. You can search all you want in the life, but you will never find the ghostly separateness, the act of imagination, in which the work emerges.” Maybe it’s a good thing few letters and no diaries of Austen’s survive; her work truly must stand on its own, independent of a possible dumpy physique or bad temper or unfortunate habit like nail-biting.

I liked what Verlyn had to say about reading, too:

One of the great pleasures of a reading life is picking up an old, familiar novel thinking that rereading it will mean a kind of reminding, when, in fact, the novel makes itself new all over again. It is as if the novel holds itself apart, waiting for real life to erase enough in us to make us suitable readers once more.

I think that’s exactly why I have a hard time letting go of my books.

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7 Responses to Friday Buzz – Becoming Jane

  1. Tai says:

    One shudders at Hathaway playing Austen. But could it be worse than seeing the simpering Keira Knightly play Elizabeth Bennet in that 2005 horror of a Pride & Prejudice adaptation?

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  2. Dorothy W. says:

    I like that last quotation — I’ve had that experience often where I think a novel will be one thing and it turns out to be something completely different. It can happen whether I’ve read it before or not.

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  3. Dark Orpheus says:

    What Verlyn said about reading, I know how it feels.

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  4. danielle says:

    I wish they would leave images of Jane alone as well. And I love Verlyn’s quote about reading, too! Like you I have a hard time getting rid of my books as well.

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  5. I recall reading a book called “The Nanny” and I pictured the evil nanny a certain way–well all of the characters were described in the book, then I saw the film, and Bette Davis played the nanny–I was so upset…she didn’t look anything like the nanny in the book! But the film was good enough, Bette did make a creepy nanny. heh.

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  6. Books become such good friends, don’t they?

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  7. litlove says:

    It is funny the way readers think that mastery of the author might help them with mastery of the work. I know it’s wrong, and yet I cannot help but be curious about author’s lives. Perhaps I’m searching for clues about what made them so creative, but creativity is probably the ultimate enigma. Then again, maybe that’s why I’m keen to poke about in it and see what comes up?

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