Thursday, June 18, 2009
I have always loved Austen. My first memory is of reading a horribly abridged version of Pride and Prejudice when I was about 12 and not appreciating it enough. The next year or the year after next, as I was looking for a DVD to buy in Landmark and I wanted one that everyone in the family could sit together happily and watch, I chanced upon Pride and Prejudice, the movie, 2005 version. I loved the movie and I remember I cried in the end as love triumphed after all hurdles. Such a sucker for romance! That was my first brush with Austen and to me, Pride and Prejudice was nothing more than a great romance, at that time.
It took me some more time and after repeatedly re watching Matthew Macfadyen walk through the misty morning and falling totally in love with the film, I decided to read the book. It wasn't easy to read though, at first. But I read it and re-read it and totally enjoyed it. And then I started trying to read all of Austen's works and understood that her novels are 'romances' only on the surface and are actually a magnificent study of the human character. I also watched several of the movie adaptations of Austen's works including Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park.
Then, I remember watching the BBC mini series Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. I loved it too and unlike other Austen fans who argue which is better: Macfadyen's version or Firth's, I love them both. I loved Bridget Jones' Diary( inspired by Pride and Prejudice) as well. Both the book and the movie were very entertaining.
And then the Austen addiction phase sort of went down. It didn't go away, it never does, but it's impact was reduced. And then I saw The Jane Austen Book Club and I remember being blown away by the brilliant film! I loved it and the first thing I did after watching the movie was to come online, find a few people who'd like to join our very own Jane Austen Book Club and read her six masterpieces. Over the past month, we've been reading Sense and Sensibility. We started with it first because it was Austen's first published work. Reading it wasn't easy. But totally worth it. That's the sort of a book that you learn from. So real, so brilliant. I've been analyzing the book a lot along with my other friends in the book club. It's been fascinating and all the time, every minute and second, I wish I could slip into Austen's world.
To compound this already himalayan addiction, I watched the Sense and Sensibility movie again. It's amazing to see the effect Austen has on so many people. Her relevance is amazing. As for her universal appeal, check out Kandukondain Kandukondain, a Tamil film based on Sense and Sensibility.
If this wasn't information enough, I read upon her all I could, in wiki and found some other interesting sites as well. I also found some amazing Austen blogs which I either follow or have it bookmarked. The Jane Austen Centre in Bath ( Austen's town) is certainly so very absolutely tempting. I'd love to go to Bath first up, if I ever could decide on my own and had the money to do what I want to.
Austen is everywhere, I find. Online: you can find Austen icons, read blogs about her books, find websites. How many books has she inspired? From the hilarious Bridget Jones' Diary to the creepily weird Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Also, here I am, reading Salman Rushdie's masterpiece Midnight's Children, something in which you can never find an Austen connection, anyone would think. But here I go, reading Rushdie's introduction where he thanks Austen " for her portraits of brilliant women caged by social convention of their time, women whose Indian counterparts I knew well;" Probably not a great Austen link, but you get what I mean! She just doesn't leave me alone! I find her everywhere. And in real life you find people so like the people Austen beautifully understood and portrayed in her books.
While looking at one of these websites, I found interesting reports about Lost in Austen, the story of Amanda, an ardent Austen fan, who lives in present day London with her boyfriend Michael, until she finds she's swapped places with Austen's fictional creation Elizabeth Bennett. What a delightfully hilarious TV series this is! So so good. Jemima Rooper is amazing as Amanda, but whew, the man who blew me away was Elliot Cowan as Mr. Darcy. Oh my God, Elliot!! I've seen Macfadyen, Firth, but nobody was as strikingly magnetic as Mr. Cowan. Fantastic, very appealing performance: he's arrogant, contemptuous, pompous, yet suave, charming and loving- a perfect Darcy in other words. This series picks Austen's characters and plays around with them at will. But it provides great entertainment and I'd say is a must watch for every Austen fan. I heard this TV series is soon to be made into a movie. I can't wait for it!
I know so much has been said about the legend of Colin Firth and his famous wet white shirt, but in my opinion, Elliot Cowan totally blows Colin off with this. Just the first minute or so is enough to satisfy all the fangirls!
As though I wasn't addicted enough, this TV series has rocketed my obsession for Austen. I desperately, seriously hope everyday that I will explore Austen's world or probably go to Bath. Well, easier dreamed than done in this case. I sometimes feel the internet that has made so many things accessible has made ambitions and dreams soar too. Which isn't seemingly a bad thing, but now makes me want to book the next flight to England and go live Austen. Oh well, I'm glad there are five more books to discuss in my Jane Austen Book Club, which, I hope will give scope for more delightful obsession.
Edit: Clearly, this loooooong post is enough indication of the addiction. I'm hopelessly addicted and need to be saved. Get me Darcy, quick! ;)