Tag: literature

Celebrating the Anniversary of Jane Austen’s “Emma”

On December 25th, 1815, Jane Austen’s novel Emma was published at the author’s own financial expense in London, England. Austen retained the copyright and paid a 10 percent commission to publisher John Murray II Publishing House. In America, the book was $4 a copy. It received mixed reviews at first, but as time passed it gained more popularity until everyone came to love the heroine, Emma Woodhouse. This must have been a surprise to Jane Austen, who had previously stated she was creating a character “whom no one but myself will much like.”

Image result for emma first edition
image via The Daily Mail

Perhaps Jane Austen said this because she was creating a character who declared herself entirely self-sufficient? Would never marry? To summarize, Emma focuses on a wealthy young woman of a country town in England called Highbury. She is surrounded by friends and family – she’s quite the socialite – and makes it her business to meddle in the affairs of others by matchmaking. That is only the most general plot summary; Austen does so much more within the novel.

 

According to an article by Louise Flavin at JASNA, Austen pioneered a new kind of writing technique or style called ‘free indirect discourse’ whereby she wrote in the third person but merged it with the fictional character’s habits of thought, so a sentence becomes both distant and personal: “she [Harriet] was a very pretty girl, and her beauty happened to be of a sort which Emma particularly admired… Emma was as much pleased with her manners as her person, and quite determined to continue the acquaintance.” As you can see the narrator of the sentence is also the prime fictional character, so the reader is able to see through Emma’s eyes and thus stay within Emma’s mindset where everything is a surprise while the prose is able to maintain third person distance. We call this close third person now. This excerpt also establishes the major theme of the novel, which is the weakness/failure of human judgment (primarily Emma’s).

image via wikipedia

Emma was the first Austen heroine who had financial independence. In Emma’s eyes, she has no need to marry. She is born with an authority all of the other Austen heroines lack. The town of Highbury is also portrayed as a female-dominated world. Still, Emma suffers mishaps and learns lessons; Mr. Knightley, despite Emma’s autonomous personality, is often softly criticizing her for her mistakes. Emma exhibits distorted logic in trying to marry off a friend, Harriet Smith, to someone above Harriet’s class, and who is mutually disinterested in Harriet, while finding no redeeming value in Harriet’s true love Robert Martin, who actually thinks as highly of Harriet as Emma does. It’s clear Emma needs to be set straight. In the end, Emma comes to realize money (or lack thereof) doesn’t make (or unmake) the man, and that it isn’t her business to matchmake when she doesn’t even know the terrain of her own heart; she realizes it’s Mr. Knightley, landed gentleman of Donwell Abbey, whom she’s loved all this time. Mr. Knightley wakes up to the realization of his own love for Emma, too. They marry and he moves into her estate where she lives with her father. What we witness is Emma’s evolution and slow humbling into a happier, more peaceful unity within and with others.

Despite Emma’s initial flaws, her character is highly intelligent and she repeats some of the wittiest lines of all of Austen’s characters. It’s hilariously true when she says:

“It may be possible to do without dancing entirely. Instances have been known of young people passing many, many months successively, without being at any ball of any description, and no material injury accrue either to body or mind.”

(Agreed.)

Or how about when she says, “seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken.”

 

Virginia Woolf called Jane Austen, “mistress of much deeper emotion than appears on the surface.” Most critics agree Emma was Austen’s real tour de force, where her writing was at its strongest and where she exhibited forceful technique, with a subtle feminist subtext written within, and well-developed characters, namely Emma herself. Scottish novelist Margaret Oliphant called it “the work of her mature mind.”

Image result for emma 1996
image via pinterest

There have been many TV and big screen adaptations spanning the decades from 1948 to 2009. In 1995, the popular film, Clueless,” with Alicia Silverstone as the Emma-inspired Cher, hit theatres as a loose take on the book. It was set in Beverly Hills and contained many of the same plot points, themes, and was noted for its humor and originality. In 1996, a more true-to-the-novel adaptation came out with Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma, and in 2010, a Bollywood version called “Aisha” premiered to dismal reviews. There also was a web series called, “Emma Approved” which originally aired on Youtube in 2013 that stopped then started up again in 2018, based on the book. It seems, however, that nothing as of yet has come out and done justice to the novel that was to be the last one published by Jane Austen while she was still alive, though we hear news of a new adaptation starring Anna-Taylor Joy along with Bill Nighy as the father coming out in February 2020. We’ll see how it does!

In any case, happy anniversary, Emma. You only get better with age.

 

 

Featured Image via Indiewire 

 


Bookstr is community supported. If you enjoy Bookstr’s articles, quizzes, graphics and videos, please join our Patreon to support our writers and creators or donate to our Paypal and help Bookstr to keep supporting the book loving community.
Become a Patron!




 

Why It’s Okay To Watch The Adaptation Before Reading The Book

I know, I know. This isn’t a popular opinion. After my list of reasons why people should read The Witcher before watching the Netflix adaptation of the books, it may also be an opinion not readily associated with me. However, I do, personally, believe that it is one hundred percent acceptable for folks to watch or play an adaptation before they read the story that it was based off of.

Why is that?

Well, there are a number of reasons. The first reason is that individuals might not even know that the book exists in the first place. Prior to first watching Howl’s Moving Castle and seeing the note beneath the title card, I had no idea that the Ghibli film was based off of a book–a book written by one of my favorite authors at that! All the same, it isn’t possible for people to keep track of every single adaptation that is released and then track down said adaptation’s literary counterpart.

image via mc crocker books – wordpress

I believe that any adaptation worth its salt will encourage individuals to then actively seek out the book to further immerse themselves in the world that they saw on the silver screen. When I learned that Howl’s Moving Castle was based off of a book, I went out and got the book and its sequel. I then proceeded to read through the book three times. I would literally finish the story and then flip back to the first page and start all over again. So, for me, I think that an adaptation can advertise the book, and in doing so, more people can seek out that story and enjoy it. Granted, the story and the film might be drastically different, but those differences might make it so that the story and the adaptation can then be viewed as entities that are unique in their own way.

but also Consider the people who struggle to read

image via readbrightly

These individuals might have dyslexia. They might have a hard time sitting still long enough to read a story. There might be some neurological elements that come into play here that make it exceedingly difficult to absorb the narrative without completely blocking out everything else. Sometimes, a film adaptation is the remedy to this situation.

There are also individuals who have difficulty finding the time or energy to read long stories. If one works a particularly taxing job, reading might not be their ideal pastime because of the focus it requires. Perhaps the only time a person has to devote to recreational reading occurs when they’re sitting in a waiting room or when their children are asleep.

 

For these individuals, an adaptation can certainly solve a number of problems. Consuming a television show or a movie doesn’t take as much time as reading a book can. Movies, more often than not, don’t usually exceed two hours; television shows range anywhere from a half hour to an hour per episode. So if an individual has a particularly restrictive schedule, they can take into account the run time of an adaptation and plan accordingly. Whereas with a book, there is more of a time commitment involved–which isn’t a bad thing. It’s just something that needs to be taken into account.

And… some people have had really bad experiences with reading

image via treehugger

I’m going to ask you, dear reader, to let me finish this point before passing judgement. I have always been an avid reader. When school and life were difficult, I would go hide in a book. It was my escape, and it was my refuge. So for me, I didn’t truly understand why some individuals that I encountered didn’t like to read.

But then I asked them.

One of my relatives told me that the reason he stopped reading after high school was because he hated the required reading that he was made to read for his literature classes. It didn’t help that he was forced to read some extremely heavy books with a short window of time. For him, it was the pressure, and he ended up feeling burnt out and disinterested from that point onward. If he watched an adaptation, then he was able to enjoy the story without experiencing the same pressure he felt while he was in school.

 

A lot of my classmates in my English program echoed this idea of burn out too. Given that several of our classes would require us to read one book a week, and then we would have to dig into the book, analyze, and answer questions on various topics related to the narrative, quite a few English majors began to hate reading outside of course work. This problem was only worsened if you had a course load where you had three or five classes that were all literature focused. Those classes would often carry the same expectation that you were reading one book a week, so that would sometimes result in an English major reading up to three to five books every week. The last thing a lot of us would want to do after reading two hundred or more pages a night for class was go and read for pleasure. This wasn’t the case for everyone, but quite a few of my classmates would opt to read for fun over breaks, and during the semester, film adaptations were ideal. It was a lot easier to sit down for two hours and watch a movie, knowing that it wouldn’t occupy the entire night. After finishing an adapted film or an episode, we could go back to studying or, even better, sleep.

So it’s okay to watch the adaptation first

image via hero machine

While I did encourage readers in my past article to read The Witcher series before watching the Netflix adaptation, I did so with the concern that many fans would judge the Netflix series based upon the decisions made in the video game… which is another adaptation and isn’t technically considered canon to the book series that Sapkowski published. To give one example: I have seen several articles written by authors that are upset at the fact that Yennefer and Ciri have more pronounced roles in the Netflix adaptation than they do in the games. Their experiences within the plot are explored, and that has upset quite a few game fans. Fans of the books know that these two characters do have ample time spent in the narrative from their points of view. So part of me feared that knee jerk reaction of a new fan of the story writing off the entire adaptation without giving it a chance because, of an article that expressed an opinion more driven by the writer’s experiences with the games.

 

While I don’t view this article as a correction of my first one, because I do stand by what I wrote, I do want to emphasize to my readers that everyone’s situation is different. We need to recognize the limitations that are imposed on others by their lives and their health.

We also need to recognize that a good adaptation should attract readers to a book series, and even if someone decides to never read the story it’s based off of, that’s okay. At the end of the day, what is important is that there are individuals who enjoy an incarnation of a story that means something to a lot of people.

Bookstr is community supported. If you enjoy Bookstr’s articles, quizzes, graphics and videos, please join our Patreon to support our writers and creators or donate to our Paypal and help Bookstr to keep supporting the book loving community.
Become a Patron!




 

Featured Image Via Bookish

5 Poems To Get You In The Mood For Winter

The seasons have always been a point of interest for poets, writers, and artists. Winter, of course, is no exception to this rule.

So, to get you in the mood for winter, here are five poems (with links provided) that you should read this season.

 

 

1. Winter: My Secret by Christina Rossetti

 

image via Britannica

I tell my secret? No indeed, not I;

Perhaps some day, who knows? But not today; it froze, and blows and snows,

And you’re too curious: fie!

You want to hear it? well:

Only, my secret’s mine, and I won’t tell.

 

 

2. The Snow Fairy by Claude McKay

 

image via poetry foundation

Throughout the afternoon I watched them there,

Snow-fairies falling, falling from the sky,

Whirling fantastic in the misty air,

Contending fierce for space supremacy.

And they flew down a mightier force at night,

As though in heaven there was revolt and riot,

And they, frail things had taken panic flight

Down to the calm earth seeking peace and quiet.

I went to bed and rose at early dawn

To see them huddled together in a heap,

Each merged into the other upon the lawn,

Worn out by the sharp struggle, fast asleep.

The sun shone brightly on them half the day,

By night they stealthily had stol’n away.

 

 

3. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost.

 

image via Britannica

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

Very much so a classic!

 

4. A Winter’s Tale by Dylan Thomas

 

image via walesonline

IT is a winter’s tale

That the snow blind twilight ferries over the lake

And floating fields from the farm in the cup of the vales,

Gliding windless through the hand folded flakes,

The pale breath of cattle at the stealthy sail,

 

 

5. Winter Love by Linda Gregg

 

image via the new yorker

I would like to decorate this silence,

but my house grows only cleaner

and more plain. The glass chimes I hung

over the register ring a little

when the heat goes on.

I waited too long to drink my tea.

It was not hot. It was only warm.

 

 

Featured Image Via Public Domain Pictures

 

 


Bookstr is community supported. If you enjoy Bookstr’s articles, quizzes, graphics and videos, please join our Patreon to support our writers and creators or donate to our Paypal and help Bookstr to keep supporting the book loving community.
Become a Patron!




 

Edna O’Brien Awarded London Literature Prize

 

 

Irish author Edna O’Brien has a career that spans over sixty years, consisting of multiple novels, plays and poetry collections. Now, her entire body of work is being rewarded.

O’Brien has been awarded the David Cohen Prize for Literature, which gives her 40,000 pounds in awards money. This prestigious award is considered a precursor to the Nobel prize in literature.

 

Image result for edna o'brien

Image Via Britannica

 

The decision was made by a panel of judges under the chair of Mark Lawson. When deciding who should be awarded with the honor, Lawson commended O’Brien for her diverse writing portfolio:

 

In my five experiences of chairing the David Cohen Prize, I have found that a key consideration is the graph of the author’s work. Some writers blaze early, then fade, publishing later books far below their best. In contrast, Edna O’Brien has achieved a rare arc of brilliant consistency, her literary skill, courage, and impact as apparent in a novel published as recently as September as in her first book, which appeared 60 years ago.

 

 

The winner of the David Cohen prize is also tasked with awarding Clarissa Luard award for an emerging writer. She awarded it to Irish poet Clodagh Beresford Dunne.

Some of O’Brien’s more notable works are the recently published Girl and her memoir Country Girl, which won the Irish Non-Fiction book category at the Irish Book Awards.

 

Featured Image Via The Irish Times

 

 


Bookstr is community supported. If you enjoy Bookstr’s articles, quizzes, graphics and videos, please join our Patreon to support our writers and creators or donate to our Paypal and help Bookstr to keep supporting the book loving community.
Become a Patron!




 

Five Times SparkNotes Twitter Proved They Get It

Who hasn’t needed SparkNotes at some point? Who else can tell you that one character’s name you forgot? If you don’t know by now, I’m obsessed with SparkNotes‘ twitter. Every tweet is a work of absolute genius. From god-tier memes to incredibly hot takes, SparkNotes’ twitter never disappoints. As we look down the barrel of a new decade, let’s take a look at the most mindblowingly relevant of their recent tweets.

 

And it’s Gender Neutral!

 

Sure, the original context wasn’t explicitly romantic, but it’s really something you can make your own. Who doesn’t want to be cool, feared, and respected? Think about it. And the implication that your very own calamity is a dragon? I’d be incredibly flattered. How could you not be? That way you’re not just saying your lover is great, they know you think they’re great. You’re telling them they’re powerful and feared in the local land. Goals.

 

 

Who’s Who?

 

The only thing that matters – which person in your relationship tries to kill the king and then panics, and which actually just finishes the job? Because listen. It’s important that one of you be able to get things started and set the ball rolling, or you’ll never get things done. At the same time, some people just aren’t great at finishing projects. Conclusions are tough. Momentum isn’t going to get you there. Someone needs to be more detail oriented. Detail obsessed. Wash their hands over and over.

 

 

I Can Relate

 

Okay, so only two of those things are true about me, but all of them are said. Do you love the sea? Are you probably a ghost? Avoid making appearances, especially during the day. Congratulations! You might be the Flying Dutchman, or another legendary ghost ship! Actually, you could be a vampire. Or just English and Victorian. All three? That’s a dream. Maybe THE dream. I’m not a ghost hunter or anything, but I might BE a ghost.

 

 

Red Flags

 

As we approach the decade that has, in advance, been termed the ‘screaming’ 20s, let’s avoid the pitfalls of the roaring 20s. And especially any choice ever made by Daisy Buchanan. Consider her an object lesson, actually. Don’t take up with lying military men. Don’t bail on them to marry guys who suck. Don’t then STAY with those guys when no one even expects you to. Don’t lead said military man on again years later. Definitely don’t commit vehicular manslaughter.

 

 

Awareness is Key

 

Hey. We know better than to call him foul creature. We’re beyond that. We have to be. But the rest of these are real. The Kids use them all the time. I mean, I’ll double check with my baby sister, but I feel pretty confident. it’s the sort of thing The Kids would definitely text about. Especially the last one. See? SparkNotes is always relevant. This is the cutting edge.

 

 

All images via SparkNotes on Twitter

 

 


Bookstr is community supported. If you enjoy Bookstr’s articles, quizzes, graphics and videos, please join our Patreon to support our writers and creators or donate to our Paypal and help Bookstr to keep supporting the book loving community.
Become a Patron!