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Thursday, 31 October 2013

Jane Austen's Portrait for Sale

A portrait of Jane Austen which was specially commissioned by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh will be put up for auction by Sotheby's in December, according to the BBC. The portrait was painted to accompany Austen-Leigh's Memoir of his aunt 1870 (see engraving, left, from the author's collection - actually from Harper's New Monthly Magazine,
Vol. XLI, 1870).

Somebody will be treating themselves to a wonderful Christmas present!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Austen's Novels Revamped

News just in!
Following the recent report that Austen's Emma will be re-worked by Alexander McCall Smith, the BBC News website has just reported that all of Jane Austen's published novels will be rewritten by six modern authors and translated into a modern-day setting. Joanna Trollope's version of Sense and Sensibility will be launched imminently.

I'm not sure I approve - how do you rewrite a classic? I think Austen's novels have stood the test of time - they are still immensely popular in their own right.

Many authors, including the lovely Jane Odiwe, have created fresh novels and sequels from Austen's original novels and characters, and I personally welcome anything which popularizes Austen and her works.

But will readers think that the Austen Project is a step too far? Should Austen's novels be - do they need to be - updated for modern readers? I'd love to know what do you think?

Update 24 October: You can read views by two experts, Professor Kathryn Sutherland from the University of Oxford, and Professor Emma Clery from the University of Southampton, on the Austen rewrites here.

Image: 'Will you do me the honour of reading that letter?' Mr Darcy gives Elizabeth Bennet a letter in the park.  Illustration by C.E. Brock for Pride and Prejudice (Cassell’s Book of Knowledge Vol. VIII, (Waverley Book Co., c.1920)).