Introduction: looking at Austen

HOPKINS, Lisa (2018). Introduction: looking at Austen. In: HOPKINS, Lisa, (ed.) After Austen: reinventions, rewritings, revisitings. Palgrave Macmillan, 1-15.

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In Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle (1949), the heroine Cassandra is asked by her sister Rose, ‘Did you think of anything when Miss Marcy said Scoatney Hall was being re-opened? I thought of the beginning of Pride and Prejudice.’ So too have many other writers, adapters, and fans of Jane Austen in a variety of circumstances and contexts, but they have not confined themselves to the beginning of Austen’s most famous novel: they have ranged over almost everything she wrote. There seems to be no end to the ways in which readers, viewers, and the general public want to engage with Jane Austen, be it Amy Heckerling’s film Clueless, which transplants Emma to Los Angeles, or the annual Regency ball at Chatsworth, for which guests are invited to dress as Austen characters. It is true that Pride and Prejudice dominates, particularly as it was brought to the screen in the 1995 BBC adaptation written by Andrew Davies. For instance, in Pride and Platypus, billed as being by ‘Jane Austen and Vera Nazarian’, Mr Darcy is a platypus so often that he has a wet shirt, a clear reference to the iconic image of Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy emerging from the lake. Mr Darcy has told his own story at least three times, the Bennet family’s servants have had theirs told in Jo Baker’s Longbourn, and the central love story of Pride and Prejudice has been co-opted for various dubiously erotic retellings. Both Austen’s characters and Austen herself have turned detective, and Austen has also become an action figure and a vampire, while Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies does what it says on the tin. Even such a list as this, various and multifarious as it is, by no means exhausts the reuses and reworkings of Austen on screen and in print, and there are also numerous self-published fan fiction responses to Austen and her novels. I do not think she has been to outer space yet, but it is surely only a matter of time.

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Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2022 15:04
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2023 11:32

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