By Deborah Yaffe, May 20 2019 01:00PM
Today on “Making Fun of the Internet,” a roundup of the latest Jane Austen-related stupid stuff that has crossed my cyber-transom recently:
* “ ‘We are all fools in love’ wrote Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice.” Such is the inauspicious first sentence of a meditation on love by Pakistani journalist Shah Nawaz Mohal, who goes on to name-drop Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Sartre, Ayn Rand, and the Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz while arguing . . . something or other.
I have no idea whether Mohal has correctly quoted all those other people. But I know for a fact that Jane Austen didn’t write the line he attributes to her, which actually comes from Deborah Moggach’s screenplay for the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Will no one around here ever bother to conduct a simple text search?
* “. . . there such much to love about Austen's world. Not to mention she gave us the image of Colin Firth emerging from a lake in a soaked blouse.”
HAHAHAHAHAHA. OK, Isabel Mundigo-Moore: I get that you’re a writer for Yahoo!’s Style pages, not a literary critic (or, apparently, a proofreader). And far be it from me to question your expert claim that such staples of Regency fashion as organza, linen, puffed sleeves, and pearls will be all the rage this summer.
But do you honestly think that Jane Austen gave us wet-shirt Colin Firth? A gift indeed, don’t get me wrong, but one for which we need to thank Andrew Davies, the screenwriter of the 1995 TV miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. Austen had nothing to do with it. It’s not in the book. Nope. Not there. Not even close.
* “The film’s final act meanders into the byways of marriage and inheritance better suited to a Jane Austen soap.” Or so argues New Zealand critic James Robins, reviewing the new Kenneth Branagh movie about Shakespeare’s last years.
Excuse me: a what? Surely, James (may I call you James?), you aren’t implying that Jane Austen wrote soap operas – or, even worse, that stories about marriage and inheritance are inherently soapy. Because she didn’t and they aren’t, unless you think the majority of English novels published in the nineteenth century are soaps.
Or perhaps I should just introduce you to Tanya Gold and let you two settle in for a nice chat. Have fun, guys!
* “While Jane Eyre's appearance fits the 'Plain Jane' image, Austen shows that beauty is according to one's own perspective. Jane Austen presents Jane Eyre as a protagonist possessing a tremendous spirit, which is worth more than vanity. Austen comments extensively on Georgian society through her writing.”
It’s hardly news that the coincidence of Janes has left a substantial segment of the population unable to distinguish between the real-life writer Jane Austen (1775-1817) and the eponymous heroine of Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre (published in 1847. Which was seventeen years after the end of the Georgian period, and ten years into the Victorian. Just saying.) In the past, I have mused on this problem more than once (here and here).
It’s not every day, however, that you see this misunderstanding perpetuated on a site dedicated to “homework help,” under the heading of “expert answers,” and attributed to a “certified educator.” The mind reels.
Kids: Stay in school. Don’t do drugs. And don’t rely on the Internet to do your homework for you.