Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen

Thanks to the mention by Queen Shenaynay from The Beehive, I received exactly what she assured would be a delight:
Six Janes for Christmas.

Even more thanks goes to the two little cuties who gave them to me, Tressa and Abigail. And even more and more gratitude goes out to their mama, Tracy, who surely did all of the ordering, packing, and wrapping... and who appreciates how much I was wanting a set of Jane Austen books.

The entire set is beautiful, and I have been experiencing a grand time while reading solely the Introductory Notes. But now, I have jumped head-first into Persuasion, one of her shorter books which I have not yet read. So far, it is wonderful. I love learning about new characters - especially those dreamed up by Jane Austen.

This past Saturday, Lydia, Tasha, Tracy and I gathered at my house for a Jane Austen evening with a viewing of Pride and Prejudice. While it was our intention to watch the 6-part BBC/A&E mini-series version (1995), time would not permit. Plus, we realized, two of us had not seen the newer 2-hour motion picture version (2005) and two of us were anxiously awaiting a time to see it again. So, we had a lovely session of "girl time" with dinner and a movie. And, we are working on scheduling some dates to watch many other movies based on Austen's works, including that 6-part Pride and Prejudice.

I did not read much Austen in my early years. In fact, it was not until the end of high school that I understood much about her writing, and it is only in recent years that I have come to love her books. So, I am a ashamed to admit how little I know about her, her characters, and especially the history of the time in which she (and her characters) lived. I probably should be even more ashamed of this next confession but will admit it anyway: I just purchased - and have already learned a wealth of information from - Jane Austen for Dummies. Its author is Joan Elizabeth Klingel Ray, PhD who is also the President of JASNA, the Jane Austen Society of North America. If you'd like a good taste of what she has to say, please consider trying a few samples from the book:
First Excerpt (First Chapter)
Second Excerpt (Index)
Third Excerpt (Contents - At A Glance and Detailed)

To all of you who are better versed in all things Jane, I would appreciate knowing your thoughts on what Dr. Ray has written.

"Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others." (Sense and Sensibility) It might take seven years (or more) to know your works properly, Miss Austen. But, I loved you from the start.

". . . provided that nothing like useful knowledge could be gained from them, provided they were all story and no reflection, she had never any objection to books at all." (Northanger Abbey) Not true for me... especially with one of Jane's stories.

Am I ecstatic about this gift? "Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!" (Pride and Prejudice)

"There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort." (Emma) ...especially when with a good book.


lydia said...

I just watched "Sense & Sensibility" tonight with Brittney. I enjoyed it, but not as much as "Pride & Prejudice."

Dani said...

P&P, is still my all time favorite, I read it for the first time at 16. Matthew and I really like the job they did with the two hour newer one. The characters are very alive, and it did change too much from the book. Did ya'll like it?

Matthew got the sheet music for Christmas and it is amazing. I'm thinking about having him play some of it for the wedding. :)

strem said...

Lydia: I think you will feel the same way about the movie I have, Emma (with Gwyneth Paltrow). Good, but just not as good. I can't wait to see the many other versions, however. I've been reading more about the film/TV adaptations of all the books, and now I have a "wish list."

strem said...

Dani, it seems many of the Janeites don't appreciate the two-hour version much - as it cuts out too much of the story, gives certain characters' lines to other characters, and adds on that "all-too-cheesy ending" (as one puts it.) I can understand their disapproval - especially about the lines part... and in downplaying certain characteristics of some, especially Mr. Bennet and his relationship with Elizabeth.

But, with all of that said, I still like it very much. (I'm in the minority, it seems, that really likes Matthew MacFayden.)

I LOVE the music, and I hope to buy the soundtrack soon. VERY SOON!

Siren said...

oooh - that is a beautiful set and I am outrageously jealous! I'm the same way - it took until I was older to appreciate her writing, but am now an avid fan.

I just watched the recent adaptation of Pride & Prejudice (the Keira Knightly one) about a week ago. I'm a purist and am never happy when a film takes liberties with a book, but I found myself wondering if some adaptations are a good way to introduce the next generation to classic books they might otherwise ignore.

strem said...

Good point, Siren. Probably. I know it has caused me to read Pride and Prejudice and pay more attention to the details.

Oh... and I realized that I didn't spell the actor's name correctly when I was reading this again last night. I think it is Matthew MacFadyen.