It is a truth universally acknowledged that a book by my favorite author, upon turning 200 years old, will be written about A LOT in this blog. Seriously I’m thinking about baking a birthday cake today. I’m just that excited. [YES, I get this excited about Jane Austen, I realize its not everyone’s cuppa, but bear with me. It will be over soon and tomorrow I’ll be back to proper Thought of the Day bioBLOGS. Promise.]
So, as you may have noticed, for the past week I’ve been giving you my take on the major players in Pride and Prejudice. Today I thought we’d take a look at the different adaptations over the years.
First the source… the Austenian Holy Grail if you will, the first editions. I was lucky enough to attend a Jane Austen Society of North America meeting that started at the Goucher College Special Collection Library. Their Jane Austen collection is the largest in North America and it houses several first editions and first illustrated editions.
Opening page of a 200 year old first edition Pride and Prejudice.
These beautifully letter pressed editions came in three volumes and are handsomely bound and typeset. The type size, letter and line spacing, weight and size of the books were perfectly designed for long afternoons when reading was a prime source of entertainment. One look at these beauties and you will never want to read another trade paper back again.
Goucher also has first illustrated editions and the illustrated editions that followed. It is fascinating to see how the look of the characters changed through the times.
An early illustrated edition of Pride and Prejudice from the Goucher Library.
The Goucher Library is hosting a special 200th Anniversary exhibit from January 28, 2013 through July 26, 2013 Click Here for more information on Exhibit. For more information of the Jane Austen Collection at Goucher you can Click Here. And if you are patient you can read all about the Goucher Austen Collection in an article I’ve written for ARRIVE magazine in the March edition!
Here’s my first Austen bookshelf.
From the original we move to adaptations. What happened BEFORE Mr. Bingley moved to Neitherfield? What happened AFTER Darcy and Lizzie got married? There are hundreds of these books out there and they vary in genre and quality. As an Austen fan I get one or two spin-off books every holiday and birthday. I recommend Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife and Darcy & Elizabeth and the trio of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman books for those of you yearning to know what MIGHT happen next.
Here’s my second Austen bookshelf.
I’m all for anything that brings new reader to Austen. So I enjoyed the Marvel Comics version of Pride and Prejudice.
Cover of Pride and Prejudice (Graphic Novel)
I like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies too — I found myself reading along, enjoying the original Austen prose and then BAM Zombies. It was fun.
Oh, here are some more books that didn’t fit on those other shelves.
I liked Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and its companion Rude Awakenings for their Alice through the looking glass approach to P&P. And I’ll give a thumbs up the more romance-y Definitely Not Mr. Darcy too.
Others are either on the “To Read” pile or have been read so long ago that I don’t remember them well enough that I can’t give you n review. That’s the problem with a lot of these book adaptations… they don’t stick with you like the original.
On to film. If you were to gather a table full of Jane Austen fans and ask them which is their favorite film version of Pride and Prejudice you’d probably get a half-dozen answers.
In 1940 Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier starred in a “Hollywoodized” version of the novel. I liked the lead’s chemistry and think they did a good job portraying Elizabeth and Darcy. But the movie takes huge liberties with the novel — from the hoop skirts, to cutting out characters and scenes, to adding new scene (archery any one?), to rewriting the reason Lady Catherine’s visit to Longbourn.
Elizabeth Garvey and David Rintoul took on the famous Lizzie and Darcy in the BBC 1980 series. It is my friend and fellow JASNA:MD member Joyce Loney’s favorite of the movies. She’s a big fan of Garvey’s Elizabeth. And, she writes:
David Rintoul’s Darcy is stiff (okay, some people have called him a stick), but he cracks during the Pemberley visit and he finally relaxes during the proposal scene. Amy Patterson has a great article (Choose Your Darcy) in the current issue of Jane Austen’s Regency World, and she says that David Rintoul “gets closer than any other to capturing the essence of this wonderful, complicated, shy, angry and passionate hero.”
But Loney’s favorite Darcy, and mine, is Colin Firth. Firth played opposite the beautiful Jennifer Ehle in the A&E mini series in 1995. Ehle is my favorite Lizzie and Alison Steadman and Benjamin Whitrow are far and away my favorite Mr. and Mrs. Bennets.
Pride and Prejudice (Photo credit: elycefeliz)
At six hours the A&E version fits in almost all the book. And I believe it is the truest film adaptation out there. I could (and do) watch it again and again. It is a delight (with or with out the wet shirt.)
Gurinda Chadha brought a distinctly Bollywood approach to her Bride & Prejudice version in 2004. The movie, complete with colorful blockbuster musical numbers, spans three continents and stars Aishwarya Rai as Lalita (Lizzie), Martin Henderson as Darcy, Namrata Shirodkar as Jaya (Jane) and Naveen Andrews as Balraj (Bingley). Obviously there are a lot of changes from the original novel, but it is fun and bright and they did a great job conveying the heart of the story.
2005 brought us Kiera Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen in Joe Wright’s take on the Novel. Like the Greer Garson version this one leaves out characters and compresses the novel — I guess it has to in order to fit into the 129 minute running time. Personally I had a lot of hope for this version because I love a lot of the actors in it, but, sorry it just falls flat. Tons of style but not so much substance… and when you start with Pride and Prejudice there’s just not excuse for that. There are moments in the movie that are terrific — I thought Macfayden and Knightly were wonderful in the “taciturn” dance and the proposal scene (though why it was in a down pour I don’t understand.) And I give this version the best sound track award. I loved the music. I also really liked Simon Woods as Bingley.
The last adaptation I’m going to cover is also the most current. In fact it is still going on, the brilliant Lizzie Bennet Diaries. The LBD have completely reimagined the story as a video blog circa 2013 LA. Click HERE to go to the home page. From there you can follow the story from the top, explore twitter and tumblr accounts for both the characters and the actors (as well as the producers and director.)
The Wrap Up
I hope you’ve enjoyed my take on Pride and Prejudice. I thank those of you who played along and commented here and on Google and Facebook. As always, please drop me a line an let me know what you are thinking.