Erin Blakemore is not new to the readers of My Jane Austen Book Club. She was my guest some time ago with a successful post titled "Jane Austen and the problem of pedestals". She's here with us today to talk Jane Austen with me and to grant you a copy of the just released paperback edition of her "The Heroine's Bookshelf" (published as a paperback in the USA by Harper Perennial). Enjoy the interview and good luck in the giveaway contest. Join me and welcome, Erin Blakemore!
Jane Austen and modernity. What would her wit’s favourite targets have been if she had written nowadays?
Jane would have been a blogger who skewered the blow-hards and bumbling celebutantes of our day. Oh, to read Jane’s blog…
What would she have appreciated the most in our world, instead?
Probably the ease and swiftness of modern correspondence! Jane relished the opportunity to stay in touch with her friends.
Which is your favourite among the major six?
That’s so hard. I think it’s a tie between Pride & Prejudice and Mansfield Park…the former for its gorgeously drawn sisters, the latter for its heroine-in-disguise, the arch and dangerous Mary Crawford.
The huge spreading of spin-offs, sequels, mash-ups is due to a desire to preserve and Jane’s messages, atmospheres, techniques and prolong the pleasure or more to the ambition to correct and adapt what in her work is considered too distant or different?
Great question. I think the impulse to adapt Jane Austen comes from the very natural wish for more body of work to dive into…in the absence of more novels, authors have to create them themselves!
Isn’t the romantic aspect of her novels over- emphasized in the film versions or TV series we’ve seen so far? (not that I mind romance, but those romantic scenes in the movies are so often not at all Austen-style!)
Definitely. I would love to see an Austen adaptation that really delved into the non-romantic, societal aspects of the books, but the masses would probably burn me at the stake! What can I say…I crave historical accuracy in all ways and though I love to see Colin Firth in a wet shirt, I can’t help but think most JA adaptations impose too much modernity on a very old-fashioned kind of romance.
Why should we still read her novels according to you? What can we learn from them? (a question my students often ask me, why do we have to read the classics?)
Jane Austen’s novels have the added benefit of being incredibly fresh and relevant-feeling, even to this jaded, 21st-century eye! Some of her observations of manners and marital relations just can’t go out of style. It gets even better when you start comparing them to modern relationships.
Was Jane Austen more a romantic girl or a matter-of- fact woman?
Definitely the latter! Jane Austen was more of a Darcy than a sparkling Elizabeth…I think that’s what made her such an astute observer of romance. I’ve always thought that the Elinor/Marianne duality represents Jane as child and Jane as much more jaded woman, striving for balance.
How would you advertise your book in less than 50 words?
Kick-ass heroines of literature and the women who gave them to us, wrapped up in a love letter to reading and rereading.
Is there a minor character in Jane Austen’s work you’d like to write a spin-off story for?
I love me some Tilneys! Eleanor gets too little page time.
You're right! We know so little about Eleanor, I'm sure she'd make a great heroine. I like her very much! Now, my last question. Do you think the Brontës and Austen share much or are they more different than similar?
There are a few superficial similarities, but I think that the Brontës were far more sheltered than Jane. Their very real isolation is at the heart of their greatest work, whereas Jane Austen’s genius is in her depictions of people in close quarters.
That's all for now, Erin! thanks for bein my guest again. You are always very welcome on My Jane Austen Book Club. Congratulations on the publication of "The Heroine Bookshelf" paperback in the US!
Erin Blakemore learned to drool over Darcy and cry over Little Women in suburban San Diego, California. These days, her inner heroine loves roller derby, running her own business, and hiking in her adopted hometown of Boulder, Colorado. Erin's debut book, "The Heroine's Bookshelf", was just published in paperback by Harper Perennial and won the 2011 Colorado Book Award in the nonfiction-general category. Learn more at http://theheroinesbookshelf.com
Leave your comment + e-mail address to win a paperback copy of Erin Blakemore's The Heroine Bookshelf offered by Harper Perennial. Unfortunately this giveaway contest is limited to US and Canada readers only and ends on December 1st when the winner is announced.