"Pictures of perfection, as you know, make me sick & wicked"

- Jane Austen
"Jane Austen is weirdly capable of keeping everybody busy. The moralists, the Eros-and-Agape people, the Marxists, the Freudians, the Jungians, the semioticians, the deconstructors - all find an adventure playground in six samey novels about middle-class provincials. And for every generation of critics, and readers, her fiction effortlessly renews itself."

- Martin Amis, in The New Yorker

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Scene from "The Jane Austen Book Club"

The first time I saw this was when it came out in cinemas and our public library service very considerately put on a screening for library members. The Jane Austen Book Club was funny then, and is just as funny on a second viewing, now that it has finally hit the video shops.

A small detail that especially appeals is that each book club member usually reads a different edition of every one of Jane Austen's novels, reflecting how many times they have been reprinted and how enduringly popular they are. Although Grigg's monster compendium edition is just ever so slightly déclassé and looked down on by the female members of the book club - another amusing touch. But onto one of my favourite scenes from the movie, when the group is discussing Mansfield Park:

Sylvia: [whose husband has recently left her] Okay, look. I love Fanny. She works hard. She puts her family's needs above her own.
Allegra: Mom, it's OK.
Sylvia: And she never, ever stops loving Edmund, ever. [emphatically] Even when he's stupid enough to do something like take up with Mary Crawford. [clatters dishes loudly in kitchen]
Allegra: (whistles)
Bernadette: Oh dear. I thought Mansfield Park would be safe, didn't you?
Allegra: I don't think we're gonna get through all six books.
Jocelyn: Reading Jane Austen is a freaking minefield.

Priceless. Oops, that was an unintentional pun.

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