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In the Margin





….. works of Jane Austen are much in ….vogue at …. moment – ….screen versions of them, that is. As I write, Emma Thompson has had …. Oscar nomination for her screen adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility”. (Can’t resist repeating …. advice given by Ken Campbell on how to adapt …. novel for …. screen: get your secretary to type out all …. bits in ….quotation marks”) …. BBC had its best-ever drama figures for its six-part adaptation of “Pride and prejudice”. And …. sharply-edited, finely-acted film of “Persuasion”, having been first seen on ….television in Britain, is now coining it in at …. US box office. …. remaining couple of novels are currently in ….various stages of being optioned, screenplayed, and financed.

How to explain …..Austenmania at this time? There is, of course, …. usual surface attraction of these period pieces – what are usually called “….production values”. This includes ….. ravishing Regency clothes, …. carefully-chosen country houses, …. picturesque scenery of …. English countryside perennially bathed in ….golden sunshine. Above all, …. charm of …. fact that it’s all taking place elsewhere, or rather elsewhen. It’s all miles away from our current daily diet of ….sleaze, corruption, crime, and drugs. Jane Austen offers such …. escape, doesn’t she. Except that she doesn’t, of course. For, above all, she is …. moralist and …. morals she draws relate to such universals as ….selfishness as opposed to ….generosity, ….pretension as opposed ….honesty, ….hypocrisy as opposed to ….true feeling. Above all, she shows us …. value of ….self-knowledge at …. expense of ….vanity and …. self-delusion. ….heroine of …yet-to-be-filmed “Emma” is brought up short and forced to see herself for the first time when Mr Knightley rebukes her for exercising her cleverness at …expense of ….ridiculous, but sensitive Miss Bates. “I shall tell you ….truths while I may, Emma” he declares ringingly – not, you might have supposed ….most winning chat-up line in ….history. With that in ….mind, I was sorry to see in ….otherwise outstanding film of “Persuasion”, ….omission of ….key exchange between Anne Elliott and Captain Wentworth. ….eighteen-year old Anne, it will be remembered (….useful phrase to indicate ….superiority of….writer), rejected …. proposal of …handsome but penniless Wentworth under ….persuasion of her more experienced friend, Lady Russell. Eight years later, Anne is now ….raddled twentysomething, while Wentworth is ….heroic, bronzed, and very rich naval officer. After many misunderstandings, they are at last re-united. Whereupon, Wentworth can’t refrain from remarking in his bluff sea-dog way that it would all have been ….lot simpler if Anne had accepted him ….first time round and not taken ….advice of her older friend. Anne demurs, however: she did right in taking her friend’s advice then, just as she does right by ignoring it now. Quite so. That’s ….kind of ….moral finess that makes Jane Austen’s work so endlessly relevant.



by A. Mclean IATEFL Newsletter (BrE)

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