There aren’t many things that deter me from my favourite book. In fact, I can honestly say that most allusions to it make me fall even more deeply in love with the piece. But, occasionally, I come across something that puts me in physical (okay maybe mental/emotional/spiritual but oh well) pain. I’ve collected a few of these examples to express my anguish and to ask you… am I overreacting? Are these things actually bad, fantasy destroying ventures or am I losing my mind?
1) People that take it a little too far. And by a little, I’m talking about murders (yes, that’s right) associated with Pride and Prejudice. In New Zealand the Weatherston trial revealed that 22 year old Sophie Elliott, the woman dating her mentally unstable university teacher who would later brutally kill her (and who, I believe, pleaded insanity due to mind altering drugs), had a plan for their entire relationship that followed the plotline of Pride and Prejudice. Obviously, that’s a little crazed in itself, but we all have Austen fantasies. Apparently she wrote “Pride and Prejudice stuff” in her diary, referred to her killer (Clayton Weatherston) as looking like Colin Firth and always mentioned how there was stubborness between them.
The best part? This winning line from the killer in the article I linked: “I think she fervently wanted to have an interesting life and part of that was engaging in an element of melodrama and Elizabeth Bennet was one of the characters that she strongly affiliated with.” So, um, he mudered her. Because she “provoked him”. If you think about it, we all have moments like this, and no one writes 100 per cent what they are thinking in their diary anyway, poor girl. A nice piece of commentary from the Sunday Star Times about the trial sheds some really interesting light on the whole ordeal. How was this relevant to the murder? Because then the defense could spend “five weeks dissecting the character of a dead young woman to make things look better for her killer”. Blood curdling.
2) Kevin Rudd (the scary paedophile-looking Australian Prime Minister) being likened to Mr. Darcy. I’m sorry, what? Did I hear you correctly? I’m afraid so. In an interview with Australia Women’s Weekly, Therese Rein (Kevin Rudd’s wife) explained how their relationship was very “Austen” and that they had a lot of debates and disagreements. The SMH article even mentions that the opposition thinks K.Rudd is arrogant. Yeah, sure, totally the most winning Darcy quality. *Shudder* I’m sorry, I just don’t want to picture grey-haired unfortunate-looking strip-club-visiting PM when reading favourite romance. (Plus, I’m not the only person who is outraged by this.)
3) Jane Austen rap, and other torturous things teachers make highschool students do thinking that it will be “fun” and “cool” and “hip”. It’s like all literature teachers go off to some conference where they come up with new, fresh ideas for assessments. News flash. Introducing students to Pride and Prejudice by getting them to rap about it, poorly, is not a good idea. Neither is asking them to keep a vlog pretending they are from the era. You can see the results of such ideas via the youtube videos here, here and here. My ears are bleeding. And I don’t even mind rap music. Seen any other shockers? Post them up.
4) Awful spelling mistakes. I’m thinking ‘AustIn’ and ‘BennetT’. It’s not hard to get it right. At least try. Austen herself had some fairly questionable spelling (Freindship being a stand out) but back then, when it was actually acceptable to switch around the ‘i’ and the ‘e’ as we as spelling a tonne of other things wrong and barely having an education, it’s understandable (for general knowledge sake, she also had missing speech marks, run-on words and repeated words). And in Shakespeare’s time they just stuck words together in any way they felt like. However, particularly when writing a critical analysis or an essay (and this comes back to school students as well), it is very important to spell the names right. Otherwise it’s sloppy, unreadable, and you obviously don’t care about the book.
5) Disturbing dolls made of book characters and Austen herself. They aren’t kitsch, cute or souvenirs of fandom. They are scary, awkward looking static bits of plastic. (Although, I have to admit that the Jane Austen bobblehead is quite amusing)
Even worse than that monstrosity is this ‘action figure’ Austen doll featuring garish green jacket and disturbingly oversized quill and apparently comes with a writing desk. Most reviews claim it is poorly made and prone to breaking but it only costs around 1o Aussie dollars, so that isn’t surprising to be honest.
Some are just so detailed that you wonder where the creators get the time from. This next one, in particular, had a description that had me in stitches (although the website itself was set to rather nice music): “lovely and vibrant, custom handmade Elizabeth Bennet doll” that costs 75 buckaroos (US). For added amusement look at the scary joints, strange proportions and Mr. Darcy’s Edward Cullen esque eyes. I do appreciate Elizabeth’s emphasized ‘fine eyes’ though and the huge gallery on the web page (also has Jane and Bingley dolls if interested).
Hey, at least they aren’t Barbies.
Any Pride and Prejudice peeves as of late?