Category Archives: Sense and Sensiblity

There, There Marianne

It’s Friday, and that means a short story based on a writing prompt by ViewFromTheSide’s Blog. This week’s theme is “Happiness.” To see more entries click HERE and visit ViewFromTheSide.

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There, There Marianne

By Rita Baker-Schmidt

English: A photo of a small green Budgerigar f...

English: A photo of a small green Budgerigar feather  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“There, There. Maaaaarianne….There, There. Maaaaarianne….There, There. Maaaaarianne….”

Today is the day I am going to get up out of this bed, go over to that bird-cage and kill that stupid parrot.

“There, There. Maaaaarianne….”

He can not help it, I suppose. He is a PARROT after all. He is only doing what parrots do. But it is hard enough enduring the genuine compassion of my sister’s hushed alto 200 times a day. I really can not stand this squawking avian imitation.

“There, There. Maa–.”

Ah,ha! a well-aimed slipper has temporarily silenced the screecher. I take a sigh of relief.

“Maaaaarianne….”

For the record I do not wish to be consoled (neither by human nor bird).

I have been wronged and I intend to wallow in the depths of misery as gloriously as I revelled in the delights of the love that caused it.

That is my role in this little drama, after all. I am “the E M O T I O N I A L one.”  I wear my heart on my sleeve. My mood floats like feeling filled flotsam in a sea of angst.

If you want stability, strength, restraint? Pray… look to my sister. She will not disappoint.

But I am none of those things. I am weak… a wreck… a ruin. Love has turned her starry eyes else where and she shall never look my way again.

And now I cry, of course. Sighing… moaning… tears are soaking the bed-clothes.

“There, There. Maaaaarianne….”

There is a gentle knock on the door. “Go AWAY!”

Why do I bother to say it? Why do they even bother to knock? They’ll just come in any way — tempting me with their strawberries or olives or advice.

But this is some one new. some one I have never met before. Yet…there is something familiar about this small woman.

“Good morning Marianne.” She moves to the window and sits down at the small writing desk. She pulls a stack of paper from her satchel. Sharpens a quill. She opens the inkwell.

“But-what-who?” I say with incoherent surprise.

“There, there, Marianne.” She tells me, “Everything will be alright. You are going through a rough patch right now, but things will turn out just right in the end.”

She puts the nib of the quill into the inkwell then holds it at the ready over the paper. She stares at the middle distance and thinks.

English: Quill pen

English: Quill pen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The parrot fills the silence with his familiar refrain.

“There, There. Maaaaarianne….”

“Well, we can lose the bird for one thing. ” She leafs through the stack of papers and pulls out a sheet.

“There, There. Maaa—….”

As she crosses out something on the paper the bird goes silent. With a few scribbles she  transforms it from a medium-sized, multi-colored parrot to three bright green song birds.  She continues to write as she says out loud ” Song birds singing Q U I E T L Y–” their volume goes down several notches ” in the corner.”

She looks at me. “Better?”

I nod.

“Alright, my dear, you have been moping about on the page for quite a long time now — and you’ve been doing the same in my head for a good deal longer. What am I going to do with you?”

Belatedly I realized that she has shifted from the rhetorical, and now actually expects an answer. “Oh,” I sniffle, “I , uh, I want what everybody wants.” I tell her, “I want to be happy.”

She smiles shyly under her bonnet. “You WILL be happy, dearest.” She gives me a little wink, like she’s got that part worked out. “In the end, I promise you.”

“It doesn’t feel like it.” I say gloomily.

She shrugs, “Well, I have a few hundred more pages to go, but we’ll get there.”

It occurs to me that this woman might be touched in the head. Or maybe I am — am I hallucinating?

“Marianne, know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience–“

Here I interrupt her, “If you want patience you’ll have to see my sister Elinor.”

“Very well, give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.”  She smiles, “You can hope, can’t you?”

Hope. That sounds like an appropriately romantic notion. I can wrap my arms around that and hug it to my heart. “And you can really do it — make me happy in the end?”

She raises an eyebrow. “You saw what I did with the bird didn’t you?”

Women in Empire Gowns

Women in Empire Gowns (Photo credit: Lea Ann Belter Bridal)

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To read my other entries from previous prompts click HERE to read Rabbit Hole Island or HERE to read The Handels a Saga or HERE to read Emergency Exit Strategy

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Top 100 Books proves that Jane Austen is the Teacher’s Pet

CLASS lets get reading…

TES (Think, Educate, Share) a website dedicated to bringing the latest teaching news and strategies to educators and the public asked 500 primary and secondary teachers what their top 10 books were. They crunched the numbers and came up with the following list of 100 top books.

It is an interesting list and it ranges nicely from early-ish chapter books — the kind that got us all hooked on reading in the first place, like Dahl and Lewis — to more mature novels like Atonement.

I was glad to see that my girl Jane made the grade (#1, 32, 52, 58). And you’ll recognize lots of other Thought of the Day authors on here too (I put them in italics — if you  are interested in reading the bioBlogs go to the search box to the right and type in their name.)

1. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


2. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

3. Harry Potter (series) J.K. Rowling

4. Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte

5. Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte

6. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell

7. The Lord of the Rings (series) J.R.R. Tolkien

[Image courtesy Biography online

[Image courtesy Biography online

8. The Book Thief Markus Zusak9. The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien10. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald11. The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini12. The Hunger Games (series) Suzanne Collins13. The Time Traveller’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger

14. The Chronicles of Narnia (series) C.S. Lewis

15. Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck

16. Birdsong Sebastian Faulks

17. His Dark Materials (series) Philip Pullman

18. The Gruffalo Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

19. The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger

20. Life of Pi Yann Martel

21. Tess of the d’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy

22. Rebecca Daphne du Maurier

23. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Mark Haddon

24. Lord of the Flies William Golding

25. Matilda Roald Dahl

My Roald Dahl collage featuring some of his most popular characters (as drawn by the amazing Quentin Blake).  Surrounding Mr. Dahl and his pups are: at the top left are: The BFG, Sophie, Dahl with his pups, The Enormous Crocodile, Mr. Fox, James, the Grand High Witch, Willy Wonka, and Matilda.

My Roald Dahl collage featuring some of his most popular characters (as drawn by the amazing Quentin Blake).

 

26. Catch-22 Joseph Heller

27. Millennium (series) Stieg Larsson

28. Animal Farm George Orwell

29. The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood

30. Persuasion Jane Austen

31. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez

32. Kensuke’s Kingdom Michael Morpurgo

33. Goodnight Mister Tom Michelle Magorian

34. The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck

35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl

36. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas John Boyne

37. Little Women Louisa May Alcott

English: Bust of Louisa May Alcott

English: Bust of Louisa May Alcott (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

38. One Day David Nicholls

39. We Need to Talk About Kevin Lionel Shriver

40. The Twits Roald Dahl

41. Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel

42. A Thousand Splendid Suns Khaled Hosseini

43. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame

44. Frankenstein Mary Shelley

45. Great Expectations Charles Dickens

46. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis de Bernieres

47. George’s Marvellous Medicine Roald Dahl

48. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams

douglas adams inspired "Hitch hikers guid...

douglas adams inspired “Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy” H2G2 http://www.hughes-photography.eu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

49. Room Emma Donoghue

50. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy

51. Atonement Ian McEwan

52. Emma Jane Austen

53. Middlemarch George Eliot

54. The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon

55. The Color Purple Alice Walker

56. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle

57. Brave New World Aldous Huxley

58. Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen

59. The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath

60. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll

61. Charlotte’s Web E.B. White

62. Dracula Bram Stoker

63. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

64. A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving

65. The Secret History Donna Tartt

66. The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Scanned drawing.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Scanned drawing. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

67. Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoevsky

68. The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver

69. Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy

70. Skellig David Almond

71. The Woman in White Wilkie Collins

72. Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell

73. Game of Thrones (series) George R.R. Martin

74. David Copperfield Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street.

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

75. Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro

76. Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak

77. Twilight (series) Stephenie Meyer

78. Beloved Toni Morrison

79. The Help Kathryn Stockett

80. Sherlock Holmes (series) Arthur Conan Doyle

81. Half of a Yellow Sun Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

82. Moneyball Michael Lewis

83. My Family and Other Animals Gerald Durrell

84. Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden

85. On the Road Jack Kerouac

86. Cloud Atlas David Mitchell

87. Wild Swans Jung Chang

88. Anne of Green Gables L.M. Montgomery

89. Les Miserables Victor Hugo

90. Room on the Broom Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

91. Private Peaceful Michael Morpurgo

92. Noughts and Crosses Malorie Blackman

93. Cider with Rosie Laurie Lee

94. Danny the Champion of the World Roald Dahl

95. Down and Out in Paris and London George Orwell

English: George Orwell in Hampstead On the cor...

English: George Orwell in Hampstead On the corner of Pond Street and South End Road, opposite the Royal Free Hospital. The bookshop has long gone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

96. The Magic Faraway Tree Enid Blyton

97. The Witches Roald Dahl

98. The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy

99. Holes Louis Sachar

100. The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde.

English: Oscar Wilde, three-quarter length por...

English: Oscar Wilde, three-quarter length portrait, facing front, seated, leaning forward, left elbow resting on knee, hand to chin, holding walking stick in right hand, wearing coat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So… what do you think? Did the teachers get an A+ for their list?  Are there any other books that you treasure that didn’t make the top 100?

If you were asked to list your top 10 books what would you include?


Secondary Character Saturday Alan Rickman: Colonel Brandon

[Courtesy Fan Pop]

[Click on the image for animated Alan; Image Courtesy Fan Pop]

Who: Colonel Brandon

 

From: Sense and Sensibility

 

Title page from the first edition of Jane Aust...

 

By: Jane Austen 

 

Published: 1811

 

Pros: Kind, considerate, thoughtful, decent, patient, gentle, faithful, honorable, sensitive, generous, caring… and , oh, yeah, RICH.

 

Although reserved and not passionate, he has a very good heart and helps out those in distress. His charitable behavior toward Eliza Williams and Edward Ferrars makes him the unnoticed knight in shining armor. [Book Rags.com]

 

Cons: Unromantic (on the surface at least), dull, remote, joyless, grave.  He appears stern and dour. especially when compared to Willoughby.

 

English: "when Colonel Brandon appeared i...

English: “when Colonel Brandon appeared it was too great a shock to be borne with calmness” – Marianne, expecting Willoughby, leaves after Colonel Brandon appears. Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. London: George Allen, 1899. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Most Shining Moment: Traveling from Cleveland to Barton Cottage overnight to fetch Mrs. Dashwood to Marianne’s sick-bed.

 

Not a moment was lost in delay of any kind. The horses arrived, even before they were expected, and Colonel Brandon only pressing her hand with a look of solemnity, and a few words spoken too low to reach her ear, hurried into the carriage. It was then about twelve o’clock, and she returned to her sister’s apartment to wait for the arrival of the apothecary, and to watch by her the rest of the night. [Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 43]

 

Least Shining Moment: [I love Brandon, don’t get me wrong. I don’t know that there is a bigger Brandon fan out there than yours truly. BUT … ]  Marianne (rightly) thinks Brandon too old for her. His attraction to her is largely based on a decades old attraction to another woman, Eliza Williams*, to whom he was separated from when he was shipped off to the Army. Essentially he is in love with a ghost from his past.   I know we live a different times but… crushing on some one who is nearly 20 years your junior because they remind you of lost love is a bit creepy, isn’t it? .

Brandon and Marianne (Kate Winslett) in the 1995 movie version of Sense and Sensibility [Image Courtesy: Fan Pop]

Brandon and Marianne (Kate Winslet) in the 1995 movie version of Sense and Sensibility [Image Courtesy: Fan Pop]

It is as good for him as it is for Marianne that it takes them the entire novel to get together. He’s a very patient man. And in the time it takes for her to realize that he is actually a wonderful guy, he has learned to appreciate her for who she really is (and not just as a substitute for his long-lost Eliza.) I think at the end of the novel Brandon really does love Marianne for herself. Perhaps that is the sweetest journey of all in the book.

 

He has clearly already had his heart-broken, and the romantic Marianne believes that everyone is fated to only love once; she prefers the young, handsome, and spontaneous Willoughby, who eventually jilts her. Proving that patience is a virtue, Brandon remains on the perimeter until Marianne gets over being jilted. Brandon’s character and temperament conform to Austen’s and Elinor’s idea of sense rather than sensibility. [Book Rags.com]

 

Alan Rickman played as Colonel Brandon in the 1995 movie directed by Ang Lee, from a screenplay by Emma Thompson. It was “the first cinematic Jane Austen adaptation in 50 years” [IMDb Sense and Sensibility] I love the movie. Like most Austen adaptions it swings wildly away from the book at times, but, still, Ahhhhh… it is a delight. And Rickman’s pitch perfect Brandon is certainly a big part of why I’m so fond of the film. He’s soooo somber, and the poor guy never seems to get his timing right. He’s always walking in just as  Marianne is expecting the more pleasant company of Willoughby.

As Marianne languishes in the other room, Brandon begs for a commission from Elinore. She suggests he fetch her mother, Mrs. Dashwood to Cleveland. [Image Courtesy: Fan Pop]

As Marianne languishes in the other room, Brandon begs for a commission from Elinore. She suggests he fetch her mother, Mrs. Dashwood to Cleveland. [Image Courtesy: Fan Pop]

The comparison between the two men (sensible Brandon and sensual Willoughby) is a secondary theme  in the book (it echos the dichotomy of the sisters’ relationship) but  the movie gives it a wonderful treatment with almost identical scenes of the male character carrying Marianne to safety through the rain. Willoughby does so almost effortlessly towards the beginning of the movie. He puts her down on her mother’s couch as if she is light as a feather. The episode hardly cost him any effort and Marianne is instantly besotted with him.  For Brandon it is a different story. He falls to his knees when he makes to the main hall at Cleveland. He’s spent every ounce of his energy in the task of finding and rescuing Marianne.  But, as she is lifted out of his arms, she is too ill to notice, much less thank him. … SIGH… for those of us who like a tablespoon of  unrequited love in our fiction it is a lovely scene.

 

 

 

Brandon reads to a recovering Marianne (in the 1995 movie version of Sense and Sensibility) [Image Courtesy Fan Pop]

Brandon reads to a recovering Marianne (in the 1995 movie version of Sense and Sensibility) [Image Courtesy Fan Pop]

*BTW: The Brandon and Eliza back story would make such a lovely historically based novel. Some one get on that please.

 

 

 


Jane Austen 12.16.12 Thought of the Day

“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”
Jane Austen

Jane Austen

Jane Austen was born in the Steventon Rectory, Hampshire, England in 1775. Today is the 237th anniversary of her birth.

The second youngest of eight children, Jane was also the younger of two girls in the Austen family. As was the custom for a family of the Austen’s class and means, baby Jane was sent to live with a wet-nurse, Elizabeth Little, until she was 18-months old. She was very close to her sister Cassandra and the two girls, along with their cousin Jane Cooper, were sent to Mrs. Cawley’s school in Oxford when Jane was 7. The school moved to Southampton when measles broke out in Oxford. But Southampton proved no safer. Typhus broke out there and all three girls caught the disease. The girls came back to Steventon where they were home schooled for a year before going to school at Mrs. La Tournelles (aka Sarah Hacket) where the girls received instruction in spelling, needlework and French. But by 1786 she was back home, this time for good.

Jane never had any formal education again…From their experience of school we can gather that Jane and Cassandra had perhaps learned some social skills, had had the opportunity to read, take part in plays, learn some French and learn the piano. These were things that were all available at home anyway. [Janeaustensworld]

And the Austen home was an excellent place at which to be home schooled. Her father took in tutors and taught his own sons. He had an impressive library (which Jane had free access to) The older boys included her in their theatricals  and charades and “even as a little girl Jane was encouraged to write” [jasa.net]

familytreelowres

Austen’s immediate family tree. [Image courtesy: jasa.net]

Jane had six older brothers: James, George, Edward, Henry, Francis and Charles.

By 14 she was writing to entertain her friends and family, penning such comedies as Love and Freindship (sic) and the parody   A History of England by a partial, prejudiced and ignorant Historian.  She collected 29 of her stories into three bound books, now known as Juvenilia.

In 1793 she began to write longer works in the epistolary style. Lady Susan was one such novel in letters.  She wrote Elinor and Marianne in the same style before she rewrote the work as a third person narrative and changed the title to Sense and Sensibility.

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1801 Rev. Austen moved (with Mrs. Austen, Cassandra and Jane) to Bath. Jane’s productivity took a nose-dive. She was either too busy to write — with all the shopping and socializing in Bath — or too depressed to write. The Austens lived in Sydney Place, no.4…

which offered both an easy walk into town and handy access to Sydney Gardens, a great outdoor attraction at that time with regular gala nights featuring music and fireworks.[Seeking Jane Austen]

…until Mr. Austen died  in 1804. By 1806 the ladies had left Bath for good, and moved Chawton in Southampton. As soon as they had settled in their new home she renewed her writing in earnest .

English: Back View of Jane Austen, Watercolor

English: Back View of Jane Austen, Watercolor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1811, Thomas Egerton, a military Library publishing house printed 750 copies Sense and Sensibility, largely on Austen’s dime. The book sold out of its first edition by 1813. And Austen eventually made 140 pounds on it.  It  appeared under the pseudonym “A Lady,” and Austen carefully guarded her anonymity .

Encouraged by this success, Jane Austen turned to revising First Impressions, a.k.a. Pride and Prejudice. She sold it in November 1812, and her “own darling child” (as she called it in a letter) was published in late January 1813. [Pemberley.com]

In May of 1814 her third novel, Mansfield Park was published. It sold out in six months.

Austen's

Despite carefully guarding her name, word had begun to leak out. People knew who  the  “Lady” was…important people…like the Prince Regent. While she was writing Emma she was summoned to the palace and invited to dedicate her next novel to the Prince. Austen was less than thrilled to be given the honor, but couldn’t exactly refuse, so in wonderful Austen wit she flattered him as only she could…

TOHIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE REGENT, THIS WORK IS,BY HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS’S PERMISSION,MOST REPECTFULLY DEDICATED,BY HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS’S DUTIFUL AND OBEDIENT HUMBLE SERVANT, THE AUTHOR

In 1815 she began working on Persuasion. By then her health had begun to deteriorate. She completed the first draft by 1816 and began The Brothers which later became  Sanditon. Her condition rapidly worsened. In May her bother Henry took Jane to Winchester for treatment, but on July 18, 1817 at the age of 41 Jane Austen passed away. She was buried at Winchester Cathedral.

English: Jane Austen's memorial gravestone in ...

English: Jane Austen’s memorial gravestone in the nave of Winchester Cathedral (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Henry, with Cassandra’s help, got Persuasion and Northanger Abbey published in December of 1817. For the first time the author was listed as “Jane Austen.”

Happy Birthday Jane!!!

Ooops forgot to link to my own blog on the Pride and Prejudice Essay Contest!

  • JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America)

Pride and Prejudice Essay Contests

Today’s blog features two essay contests: the official JASNA Student Essay Contest,
and the ritaLOVEStoWRITE Essay Contest for the rest of us.

 

 

JASNA essay contest

 

 

JASNA STUDENT ESSAY CONTEST:

 

 

Attention: Students at the high school, college and post-graduate levels:

 

 

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, JASNA (The Jane Austen Society of North America) is looking for short essays on the following topic:

 

 

“Though Pride and Prejudice may be regarded as timeless, nevertheless within the novel Austen plots her time very carefully. Timing is everything for important relationships and events. And the characters are deeply connected to the time in which they live, which is both like and unlike our times. What do we discover about time, times, or timeliness from reading Pride and Prejudice?”

 

Title page from the first edition of the first...

Title page from the first edition of the first volume of Pride and Prejudice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Judges will be awarding scholarships ranging from $250 to $1000, plus a years membership to JASNA, plus tickets and lodging to the 2013 JASNA Annual General Meeting in Minneapolis. The winning essays will also appear on the JASNA website.

 

 

Deadline is May 15, 2013. 

 

 

Click HERE to go to the JASNA Essay Contest Page for more details.

 

 

[Please note that the contest is open to students outside the United States too, but the essay must be written in English.]

 

 

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English: Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Austen, Jane. Pr...

English: Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. London: George Allen, 1894, page 5. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ritaLOVEStoWRITE  Contest for the rest of us:

 

 

So what about the rest of us Pride and Prejudice lovers? Can’t WE write an essay*? Well, sure you can. I’m calling for entries right here and right now.

 

 

We too will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of P&P! But guess what? Any one can participate!  Couple of RULES here:

 

 

  1. TRY and keep it under 1200 words please.
  2. The “essay” should be Pride and Prejudice centric.
  3. Please submit your essay in English.
  4. Have fun with it!
  5. Oh, and no pornography == THIS is Austen after all!

 

English: Français : Une gravure de 1833 illust...

English: Français : Une gravure de 1833 illustrant une scène du chapitre 59 du roman Orgueil et Préjugés de Jane Austen. À gauche M. Bennet, à droite Elizabeth. Avec File:Pickering – Greatbatch – Jane Austen – Pride_and_Prejudice – This is not to be borne, Miss Bennet.jpg, il s’agit des toutes premières illustrations de l’œuvre. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Prizes include… All entries will be published in an upcoming special edition of the award-winning ritaLOVEStoWRITE blog. All entries will receive a participation banner for your blog. The top three entries will receive a special “Finalist” banner for their Blog Page, and the top entry will win a Darcy mug! (Please make sure to include an email contact — which I will remove before posting so the whole world doesn’t see it.)

 

 

Deadline: 28 January 2013 (That’s the anniversary date of the novel’s publication)

 

 

*I seriously encourage you to think outside the box. For you illustrators out there… how about some character studies? Are you a play wright? Why not treat us to a re-imagined scene or two?

 

 

AND … Although I’m not going to snark on your intellectual property I strongly suggest you throw a copyright on all your original material in case any one else takes a liking to it.

 

English: This diagram, or map, illustrates the...

English: This diagram, or map, illustrates the relationships between each of the main characters in the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Thought of the Day 10.23.12 Ang Lee

“I did a women’s movie, and I’m not a woman. I did a gay movie, and I’m not gay. I learned as I went along.”
— Ang Lee

Ang Lee

Ang Lee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ang Lee was born on this day in Chaochou in Pingtung, Taiwan in 1954. He is 58 years old.

His parents put a heavy emphasis on a classical Chinese education, including culture, art, and calligraphy. His father was the principal at his high school, and Ang was expected to become an academic, perhaps a professor. But, his interests in drama took him in another direction.

After graduating from The national Taiwan College of Arts and completing his mandatory service in the Republic of China’s military, Ang Lee attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he received his BFA in Theatre/Theater Direction and New York University where he earned his Masters in Film Production.

At NYU he worked with Spike Lee on Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads. His Shades of the Lake was a Best Drama pick in Short Film in Taiwan and his Fine Line, his thesis film, won the Outstanding Direction Wasserman Award and was later shown on the BBC.

Cover of "The Wedding Banquet"

Cover of The Wedding Banquet

His professional career was off to a slow start. After struggling for six years he submitted the screenplays for Pushing Hands and The Wedding Banquet to a Taiwanese  competition in 1990. The scripts came in first and second.

Lee … eventually making his directorial debut in 1992 with Pushing Hands. A comedy about the generational and cultural gaps in a Taiwanese family in New York, it won awards in Lee‘s native country. [NYTimes.com]

The Wedding Banquet had an art house release in the US and Lee found a much wider audience. It was the second film in his “Taiwanese Trilogy” and like the others it featured generational and cultural conflicts. Here Winston Chao played…

a homosexual Chinese man who feigns a marriage in order to satisfy the traditional demands of his Taiwanese parents. It garnered Golden Globe and Oscar nominations, and won a Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. [IMDB]

The third film in his valentine to Taiwan  was Eat Drink Man Woman. It tells the story of a semi-retired chef and his three grown daughters. It cemented his role as “A warmly engaging storyteller [Janet Maslin, The New York Times]

Cover of "Eat Drink Man Woman"

Cover of Eat Drink Man Woman

Lee switched continents  and centuries when he helmed his next film, Emma Thompson’s wonderful adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. It won a BAFTA  and Golden Globe award for Best Picture. Lee was voted Best Director by New York Film Critics Circle.  Austen’s resurgence in popularity can be traced back to Lee’s Sense and Sensibility and the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle Pride and Prejudice mini-series that came a half decade later. [S&S is one of my personal favorite Austen film adaptations. Alan Rickman’s Col. Brandon still makes me sigh.]

Back in 20th century (this time 1973 Connecticut), Lee tackled a dysfunction family in crisis in The Ice Storm. The film starred Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci and Elijah Wood.

He worked with Tobey Maguire again in Ride with the Devil, a Civil War tale about two friends who join the Bushwhackers in Missouri.

Cover of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ...

Cover via Amazon

Next came the magical Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It is the story of a mysterious young assassin who steals a magical sword and the two martial arts masters who set out retrieve it. The chase through the bamboo forest alone is worth the price of a rental.

With movies about family drama, English classical literature and Asian mystical martial arts under his belt Lee did  the next logical thing… he directed a movie based on the Marvel Comic’s hero the Hulk.

Star-crossed lovers. The poster was fashioned ...

Star-crossed lovers. The poster was fashioned after Titanic ‘ s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

IN 2005 Lee tackled his most controversial movie yet, Brokeback Mountain. The film starred Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal,

The film’s sensitive and epic portrayal of a thriving romance that survives between two Wyoming cowboys in the 1960’s was praised as both elegiac and grounded. Lee‘s deft handling of material that simultaneously drew on the established themes of classic cinema and pioneered completely unexplored territory in mass media could not have been more exalted…[NYTimes.com]

Lee won Best Director  at the Academy Awards, BAFTAs and Gold Globes for Brokeback Mountain.

Lust, Caution  takes place in Japanese occupied 1938 Hong Kong and 1940s Shanghai. A group of Chinese university students plot to assassinate a government official. The film was called tense, sensual and beautifully-shot. The film did well in Hong Kong and China, but because of  its adult content it earned  an NC-17 rating in the US and didn’t do well in this market.

2009’s Comedy/Drama Taking Woodstock offers a  groovy look on how the world’s most famous music concert came to be. The Chicago Time’s Michael Phillips called it “A mosaic…drifting in and out of focus — stitching the story of how the peace-and-music bash fell together.”

His latest film, Life of Pi is due out next month. Life of Pi is based on the novel by Yann Martel and is about a 16-year-old survivor of a ship wreck. He finds himself on a lifeboat with another unusual (and dangerous) castaway.


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