The Voices of Men in Praise
Of Jane Austen
Messages c. July 24, 2002


Dear Cut Glashton,

My face is red! You don't really mean to intimate to Daghda J. that my little maunderings on this message board have exhausted you into closing it!!??  You flatter me!  I haven't even made MV classics.  Talk amongst yourselves!! Long story short:  England, Regency, Jane!

I still monitor the progress of the Emma contest, and find the results of interest, especially that the  BBC version gets so few votes when some of the acting was superb.  And really, to be honest, what I believe our Jane perceived her characters to be.  There are only 19 votes difference between '95 and '96, while the BBC version received only 89 votes.  There's no denying that there were some extremely charismatic actors in the later versions, but I think Donald Eccles' Mr. Woodhouse was unsurpassed.  Timothy Peters' version of Mr. Elton was highly underrated, as was that of Fiona Walker as Mrs. Elton.  Juliet Stevenson is much more attractive and her portrayal was scrumptious, but she was so cute you didn't mind how obnoxious she was.  Even Lucy Robinson was so humorous that her obnoxiousness became somewhat obscured.

But Fiona Walker was I think, Jane's idea of Mrs. Elton.  She wasn't cute, and anything humorous about her was not her personal accomplishment, but Jane's writing.  Even Miss Bates, my alter ego, though admirably brought to life by Pruny Scales (sorry Sophie Thompson, you're too young - stick to "Persuasion"), I think was really more like Constance Chapman.  So even though all these actors didn't have the glamour of those in the later films, they were Jane's idea of how the characters were.

Emma 96 was a farce based on the novel.  Emma 95 was a very well-done, attractive version of the novel.  But the BBC production, in spite of the unappealing Doran Godwin, and the length of it, actually came closest to what I think Jane thought.  Am I making any sense?  Probably not.  The one I LIKED best was Emma 95, though I really enjoyed '96 also.

Well, it's all over now...all we can do is rehAshton...

Dear Bree,

I did intend to say that to D.J. but I intended it to be a joke. I assume that most community members read most messages, so I thought that you would read that sentence and be amused. I embarrassed you instead and for that I apologize.

It was noted early on that folks using the Internet would not always communicate humor because readers could not see their facial expressions; that is the reason that people invented things like this, ;-) to punctuate their e-writing. I never could bring myself to use those things; although, I am the proud inventor of this one, <[|:o)!!!. What say you?

I emphatically agree with most of your assessment of the Emma All-Stars balloting. (Incidentally, I will try to invent some way to continue that balloting even after the demise of the Bulletin Board—wish me luck!) I would only disagree with your assessment of Doran Godwin who received my vote ("thank you" to that one other guy who voted for her!) I liked the Paltow version a little bit when it first came out, but I saw it again recently and it didn't hold up for me.

How many folks might have seen the '72 version do you think? I suspect not many; if so, then it is making a respectable showing on the balloting. Eccles, especially, is getting his due in that sense. You are perfectly right about Fiona Walker, she nailed that part as no other has since.

I wasn't going to put Clueless on the ballot, and only did so because there has been a lot of praise for that version posted here in the past. Even someone as erudite as Julie Grassi saw something good in it. ????? I think that it might be receiving some votes because some of those young actors made an audience for themselves since that breakout production. That is especially true of Brittany Murphy and Jeremy Sisto. Curiously, Alicia Silverstone's star has seemed to eclipse in that same time frame. I think I heard somewhere that the young actress who plays "Claire" in Six Feet Under was in Clueless. Have you heard that? Is that true?

For me, the biggest mystery is the support being given Sophie Thompson in the role of Miss Bates! She was excellent—I mean perfect in Persuasion, but miscast and misguided in Emma. I am so glad that someone like yourself agrees.

Dear Not So FAshton,

NO no.  It was just a joke.  You flatter me, because lately I don't think I have any wits left.  Loved your colorful "internet art."!

Re the Emma's, I am hard on Doran Godwin, but I think she was very good.  Just not as attractive as Kate Beckinsale.  Her acting was pretty darn good, actually.

As sometimes happens, I would like a combination of actors from the different versions for one great, go-for-broke version.  I have to say I like Prunella Scales (remember "Fawlty Towers?") and her Miss Bates, but my conscience says the Chapman did the best acting job.

My objections to the Paltrow version remain the same, too many characters turned into caricatures, including Miss Bates.  Sophie Thompson is a good actress, she was wonderful as Mary Elliot.  But her Miss Bates was a cartoon figure. I also agree with you on the likelihood of very few people having seen the BBC version.  I only rented it so I could compare it with the others and vote properly!

Since I have given up cable, and no longer get VH-1 or MTV, my knowledge of the younger generation of stars is very sketchy.  I have to check in from time to time with my youngest daughter on those things.  We did like Clueless as a movie in itself, but its relationship to Emma was very tenuous in my view.  My daughter is 22 and thinks Alicia Silverstone is all washed up.  How fleeting is fame and fortune!

It will be great if the Emma All Star contest can keep going, because other viewers might be led to see the films.  My critical sense has certainly developed since joining this BB, thanks to you and other Voices!  Think of that while you are swinging the bat with your grandson!  You have made a contribution to the world!!!!!!!!!!!

Dear Ashton,

Please clarify. You mean that in a year this site will cease to exist even in a static state and disappear for good?
Ana Y.

Dear Ana,

You are quite right, more clarification is in order.

The remainder of the site will remain open for at least one more year. It will remain open longer if there is still any interest. The test will be if people still visit the site after the Bulletin Board is closed. Currently, there are about 80 visits per day to the site at pages other than the BB. That is extremely low compared to popular sites, but it does mean that over 100,000 thousand visits have accumulated over the years. So, if the number of visits remains at 80 or over, then the site will remain open—I have no idea how things will turn out.

Incidentally, the site will not be static. I will be adding and rewriting all the time. Currently I spend about 90% of my time in maintaining the BB; much of that time will be devoted to other projects, but I intend to still stay active in promoting and improving this site. One might argue that I could write a Java script to automate the BB, but that is not the style that I would ever countenance.

Once again, thank you so much for your kind interest and support.

Dear Meister,

Well, a former girlfriend once said I had the ki..., but no; I digress.  I assure you that it's not intentional; I just seem to come in on the tail end of things.  As for matching wits with Bree and others, I think I'm a bit too old and tired to take that on. (Only partially armed and all that!)

Dear Jim,

I should have linked to those archives when I posted.  Probably the reason you can't find them is because those references are in the Sense and Sensibility board archives, not in the Life and Times board archives.  If you put "horse" in the search blank for the older archives, it will pop up.  Anyway, don't bother going there because the boards at RoP are closed until August 4th since the board monitors are on vacation.  I did not bookmark the archives because I thought I would not need them.  Ain't it always the case?

I feel your pain, and I'll have something to say about this site closing down - right after I get my Christmas Letters for last year sealed and put in the mail tomorrow.

Dear Folks,

I continue my summary of the postings of Julie Grassi: refer to part I and part II.

There are a lot of exotic animals in Tasmania—koalas, wallabies, devils, and this bunch that insinuated itself next to Julie's wood-burning stove.

'Hey, Julie, we'll forget that you actually like the Brontes
if you throw a couple of bangers on the barbee for us, mate.'

Continue on with ...

Dear Folks,

I continue my summary of the postings of Julie Grassi: refer to part I, & part II, & part III.

Have you ever seen a real, live Tasmanian?

One of Julie's neighbors borrowed her horse to
assemble a bonfire. He said it was to torture Fanny
Price; in fact, it was used for a Bronte book-burning.

Continue on with ...

Dear Ash,

It is early morning now and before I finish the rest of Julie's posts and the baby wakes up I have to post this 'Thank You' to Julie for two particular posts I just read.

Her post of 11/30/99 gave me the first really good explanation of the Evangelist and livings question.  She put them into the proper perspective.  Well done.

Her post of 12/14/99 includes the subject of women's property rights in Jane Austen's time.  This information surely helps to understand what was happening in those days and is useful to my study of 'feminism.  I begin to realize that I should read all the posts.  Sigh.

Dear Folks,

Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866) was a contemporary of Jane Austen, an author of novellas, and an intimate friend of Percy Shelley (even the executor of his estate.) He was a "cit" (from the merchant class) but appears to have been blessed with a gentleman's education.

Peacock's Nightmare Abbey appeared in 1818, in the same year as Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. It is very good and I recommend it to you. It is also very short—less than one hundred pages, a small book with large type. Most of you will down it in one sitting.

The book is very funny, it is a delightful, naughty farce. For some reason, it makes me think of Jane Austen's Juvenilia, the same style, the same intent, and the same fearless humor. Of course, Nightmare Abbey is the product of a mature mind. It is anti-intellectual, but a very cerebral, well-educated anti-intellectual tract. It certainly is anti-university. Peacock also attacks the gloomy outlook that might have been de rigeur at the university, in the church, and in the homes of progressive intellectuals at that time. Certainly, there was a lot of disillusionment with the French Revolution. For this reason alone, a Janite should read the book in order to get a better feel for Jane Austen's time.

Another recommendation for the book is the fact that several of Peacock's closest friends are parodied—Shelley in the character of Scythrop Glowry, Coleridge in the character of Mr. Flosky, and Byron in the character of Mr. Cypress. This is my idea, I have not seen an expert make this connection, the character of Celinda Toobad strikes me as similar to the way that I picture Mary Shelley in some ways.

The only negative is a tinge of anti-Semitism, the same taint of ethnic bias that was only too common in Jane Austen's time, but completely missing in our Lady's own novels. (Perhaps this is still another reason that Jane Austen's popularity only increases with time.)

Give Peacock's novella a look.


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