Sunday, January 8, 2012

Jane Austen January!

The Literary Shack has created a Jane Austen January Blogfest. Well, I currently have a lot of books to read, so instead of re-reading Austen and properly participating, I'll just be doing one post on Jane Austen, or to be very specific, the Jane Austen Spin-offs/Sequels.

Now, Jane Austen is one of my favourite authoresses, especially for her wit and humour (I'm sorry Mr Mark Twain, but YOU are the one that bore me). One of my favourite books are Pride and Prejudice, which has numerous sequels, and a very interesting retelling - Pride and Prejudice And Zombies, with its sequel Dreadfully Ever After.

Despite being almost heresy to some Jane Austen purists (One of my friend's mom was visibly disturbed), I think that Pride and Pejudice And Zombies is a really interesting book. In the first book, the writing blends well together, and the additions of Zombies hasn't dulled the wit in the story. One of my favourite quotations comes from the Mr Collins Proposal (by Mr Bennet):

"I will not have my best warrior resigned to the sercie of a man who is fatter than Buddha and duller than the edge of a learning sword."
The sequel: Dreadfully Ever After, is equally entertaining, although I think the style of writing has somewhat deviated from Austen's original style. But what I enjoyed the most is the characterisation of Kitty (and of course, Mary). She has been said in the ending of Pride and Prejudice to be less silly without the influence of Lydia, and this is wonderfully continued in the sequel, especially when she starts to deals with her feelings. Of course, having substantial parts of the narrative in her point of view helps a lot.

Another interesting Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons. At first, I was a little unsure about the level of sacarsm in the text, especially the footnotes, which is why I went back and re-read the original. Now, I'm convinced that most of the text is keeping in tone, as long as you avoid the footnotes. Somehow, I feel patronised whenever I read the footnotes, which is why in the end, I ignored them (It's a shame really, because after I was introduced to Terry Pratchet, I love reading footnotes).

My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park on the other hand, was not as good as I expected. I'll probably be keeping the book but only because I bought it on a trip to the US and I have memories linked to it. This book has the least to do with Jane Austen, instead descending (for too much of the time) into a pity party for the protagonist, Lily. Plus, the mention of, how to put this delicately, looser morals (she slept with the guy. Who had a girlfriend) makes this hero fairly unlike Austen's hero. I found very little, if any resemblence to Mansfield Park, or even Austen in general, except for the fact that the whole story took place at a Jane Austen re-enactment.

The last Jane Austen book that I have is not fiction, in fact, it's Jane Austen for Dummies. Now, I normally avoid the Dummies series like the plague, but this one is actually really really good. What I like is it's comprehensiveness, especially with regards to the culture and social mores of that time. It also has information on Jane Austen's background, the books (even the books she read) and so one. I suppose for the extremely dedicated, this is nothing, but if you're just starting the Jane Austen fever, then this is an excellent introduction to the world around her, and I think it really enhances the reading experience if you know about the time period in which she wrote. Plus, if you subscribe to literary theories like New Historicism, cultural studies or really any literary theory that tries to look at the text in a specific way (such as by gender studies), this book is a really useful introduction. Although I'm not sure how impressive it'll look if your bibliography cites the Dummies book.

NB: Due to the many books, I decided to start bolding the titles to make it easier.

Footnote one: What does NB mean anyway? And why am I using it if I don't know (you'd think I have enough sense not to use it in case of misuse)?

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