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Monday, 26 September 2011

Weekly Wisdom from Mr. Trollope

I have lived with my characters, and thence has come whatever success I have attained.

Re-Visioning Jane

In re-reading Pride and Prejudice from the perspective of someone newly interested in its dramatic adaptations, I'm surprised that my initial reading of it as a college student didn't provoke the same sight I have now, since I certainly have been always attracted to BBC miniseries and the like--but it didn't.  I see in it now what has compelled people to so consistently re-tell this story--and what interests me most is how, for me, at least, the re-telling comes at the expense of the female narrative.  The perspective is skewed to begin with, removing the text from the page and onto a stage or a screen, but then again--skewed so as to adjust our vantage point: yes, we still see the story through a woman's eyes, but not as much her mind.  And it is through her eyes we stare endlessly at boots and britches, softly curled hair, and pained glances.  Oh, and we like to stare, but it's not the reason we want to adapt the novel, the reason the Elizabeth in all of us sits alone with our mind's eye and looks to her, not him, to think about love.  We read the novel by tracing our heroines' steps, and watch the movies by focusing on their paramours.  Part of what I like about the adaptation I'm currently involved with is that it employs the author herself as a device to share the story; a woman will steer this ship, even if we're constantly seeking land in a pair of manly arms.  Our orchestra, too, is all female; they are the very music of this story.