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Old 10-22-2013, 05:12 PM   #16
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I don't know, but I imagine it will result in redefining "entertainment" to achieve some sort of loophole to work with.
...well said
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Old 10-22-2013, 06:05 PM   #17
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Is this a kind of fanfic for those who wouldn't be seen dead reading fanfic?
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Old 10-22-2013, 06:13 PM   #18
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Is this a kind of fanfic for those who wouldn't be seen dead reading fanfic?
No, it's an adaptation.
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Old 10-22-2013, 06:48 PM   #19
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I was wondering this too. Is there really a need for it? (I know I can't judge this properly as I am not a native speaker. For me, her language doesn't sound outdated but the English might feel this otherwise.)
To me, as a native American English speaker, the language of Austen's time is somewhat dated but not difficult to read (as opposed to the language of Shakespeare's time, for which I would want an annotated version to fully understand it).

I first read the Austen novels as a teenager and had no problems with them. It wasn't necessary to follow all the details of entails etc. - it was clear that the point was the heroines weren't going to inherit the family fortune.
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Old 10-23-2013, 07:33 AM   #20
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I like reading the classics but at some point I noticed that I mostly read foreign language classics and seldom German ones. I supposed that the reason for this could be the older language or the speed of the stories. In foreign books or in their translations that are mostly of a newer date I don't experience this problem so much.
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Old 10-23-2013, 07:42 AM   #21
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I like reading the classics but at some point I noticed that I mostly read foreign language classics and seldom German ones. I supposed that the reason for this could be the older language or the speed of the stories. In foreign books or in their translations that are mostly of a newer date I don't experience this problem so much.
A comment that Joanna Trollope made in her BBC interview, which I agree with, is that modern readers expect books in which something "happens". As anyone who's read Jane Austen knows, there is virtually no "action"; they are a "comedy of manners", and most of the books consist of conversations, rather than actions.
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Old 10-23-2013, 07:47 AM   #22
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Hmm. I read part of the extract - the part I could see, with that big ad covering the side - and I didn't think it was unusually good, actually. But then I thought P.D. James' book missed the mark too.
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Old 10-23-2013, 08:26 AM   #23
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I read Persuasion a couple of years back and the language definitely slowed me down a little. If my TBR wasn't already so big...
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Old 10-23-2013, 12:07 PM   #24
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If I recall correctly a while back (maybe years) there was a discussion here at MR about a similar sort of effort. In that case it was a rewrite of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. The reasoning offered for that, removing language that might offend modern sensibilities, was different but my objection to rewrites remains much the same for The Austen Project.

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This idea bothers me greatly - on a number of levels.

1. We revere authors and their works "as is" - not as we wished they had been written.
2. Reading older works with unfamiliar vocabulary, terms, customs allows us to discover the richness of the past - and is quite easily done now with dictionaries on board ereaders, Wikipedia available on many ereaders, - not to mention reading on a tablet, with its search capabilities.
3. Tackling 'difficult' books expands & enlarges our reading skills, not to mention our vocabularies.
4. Older plot lines simply don't translate to modern times - e.g., the husband hunt, entailment woes, etc. Lost or mislaid letters as a plot device transmuted into misunderstood twitter feeds?
5. As noted several times above, Austen in particular has been already "modernized" by many authors. Why meddle with the originals? If you want modern technology, read one of the existing "additions" based on Austen's characters.
All of this. What's on the horizon, Twitter Classics?


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Joanna Trollope was on this morning's BBC news talking about this. Apparently many modern readers find the Georgian literary style of Austen's novels rather heavy going. Eg the first chapter of "Sense and Sensibility" is a lengthy and rather complex discussion of Wills and Entails, which I can well imagine might be rather off putting for many.
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A comment that Joanna Trollope made in her BBC interview, which I agree with, is that modern readers expect books in which something "happens". As anyone who's read Jane Austen knows, there is virtually no "action"; they are a "comedy of manners", and most of the books consist of conversations, rather than actions.
Sort of an off topic aside, but there is television ad running here in America for a soon to be released or just released film. The main selling point in the ad is the promise of “non-stop action.” Presumably non-stop car chases & crashes, explosions, and gun fights. To attract the crucial demographic for film ticket sales the line between film and video games must be erased?

Anyway together with Poohbear_nc point regarding language I would have to ask this. If Austen's novels are to be rewritten to eliminate any words or phrases that modern readers might have trouble with, and if the novels are to be jazzed up to be “non-stop action” what's the point of even doing it? What's the point of reading Austen?
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Old 10-23-2013, 12:23 PM   #25
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Anyway together with Poohbear_nc point regarding language I would have to ask this. If Austen's novels are to be rewritten to eliminate any words or phrases that modern readers might have trouble with, and if the novels are to be jazzed up to be “non-stop action” what's the point of even doing it? What's the point of reading Austen?
Exactly. Although I don't care what others read, I enjoy the classics for the windows they open to the time and place in which they are written. If they are rewritten to reflect our own time, to expurgate the historical context, they appeal to me about as much as reading Shakespeare as edited by Thomas Bowdler.
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Old 10-23-2013, 12:40 PM   #26
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And will we be doing Shakespeare next? How about Moby Dick?
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Old 10-23-2013, 12:44 PM   #27
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And will we be doing Shakespeare next? How about Moby Dick?
There have been innumerable modern interpretations of Shakespeare. "West Side Story", to name but one example, is an adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet". I think many people would say that West Side Story is an excellent work in its own right, and can be enjoyed without the least knowledge of Shakespeare. Heck, I strongly suspect that the overwhelming majority of people who watch it don't even realise that it is an adaptation of Shakespeare.

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Old 10-23-2013, 01:28 PM   #28
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It would be easier to count what hasn't been adapted rather than what was. There are many adaptations of Shakespeare and Moby Dick. When someone put out an edited version to Huckleberry Finn, I was upset too. But I came to realize that was irrational. It didn't harm the original one iota, it was nothing more than a pebble in the ocean. Such concerns are based on thinking that the adaptation could supplant the original, but that doesn't happen. The original is free, and free competes quite well with the adaptation that you have to pay for.

I don't think I will be reading this adaptation, it doesn't interest me. But whether or not I want it is irrelevant. There are many books that I don't want, it doesn't concern me that they exist. What I want is that the original is available, and no adaptation is going to replace it. Thus I am unharmed by an adaptation, and I would only harm myself by allowing it to upset me.
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Old 10-23-2013, 01:31 PM   #29
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I don't think I will be reading this adaptation, it doesn't interest me. But whether or not I want it is irrelevant. There are many books that I don't want, it doesn't concern me that they exist. What I want is that the original is available, and no adaptation is going to replace it. Thus I am unharmed by an adaptation, and I would only harm myself by allowing it to upset me.
Precisely. Does the existence of "West Side Story" damage "Romeo and Juliet" in some way? I seriously doubt that even the most rabid defender of Shakespeare could come up with a reason to suggest that it does.

Adaptations add to our cultural heritage, whether or not one personally chooses to partake of them.
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Old 10-23-2013, 02:15 PM   #30
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I've nothing against reading the original but it'd be a shame to miss out on things like Forbidden Planet (based on The Tempest) or Clueless (Emma). I recently read A Study in Scarlet for the first time and whilst it was OK I much preferred the Moffatt TV version.

Of course they are all adapted to a different medium. Off the top of my head I can't think of a book that's based on an earlier book where I've read both but the principle's the same.
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