Jane Austen could hardly have guessed the cultural impact that her life and six novels would have today. In fact, the author was completely anonymous in her day: She wrote her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, at the age of 20. She released it under the pen name, A Lady, many years later at 36, and lived as a single woman with her family until her death at 41 in 1817, an age that sounds incredibly young now, but was the standard at the time. Although her books were popular, no one knew who she was.
Today, it’s hard to imagine such chosen anonymity. We have a live tweeting President and a 22-year-old female billionaire, famous for monetizing a performance of her every day. But Austen lived a quietly subversive life which defied the restrictions of her time as well as the cultural contexts her heroines existed in. Her books about young women navigating early 19th century England and the pressures to find a good match have birthed ongoing debate about what it means to be a feminist. They’ve also proven incredibly relevant, year after year and across cultural contexts.
We may not live to marry well anymore (or to marry at all for that matter), but the social world Austen envisioned, and the psychology behind her female protagonists, has proven to transcend her day.
Austen perhaps became most famous in 1995, the year Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning Sense and Sensibility, the BBC’s much beloved Pride and Prejudice mini-series which gave us Colin Firth as the ultimate heartthrob, the period drama Persuasion, and of course, Clueless, were all released. Can you imagine the latter without Cher Horowitz and Tai Frasier? A casual Alaia reference without Cher? A dis better than Tai’s naïve-turned-in crowd “You’re a virgin who can’t drive”? Austen’s protagonists came alive in 1995, and with them conversations about female independence, transformation, and power.
The following year, Douglas McGrath released Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. The film was arguably Paltrow’s breakthrough role, catapulting her into stardom and leaving a fashion impression almost as memorable as that of Clueless.
Bridget Jones’ Diary, released in 2001 and loosely based on Pride and Prejudice, was the next major Austen adaptation. It came to life from author Helen Fielding’s column for The Independent, in which she created a character named Bridget because she was too shy and private to write as herself (arguably not unlike Austen herself). Her narrative about being single in your 30s, and the gap between how women are perceived and their interior experiences, had an immediate impact.
This coming February, we will receive a new Austen gift: Autumn de Wilde’s Emma starring Anya Taylor-Joy. The film is sure to be a visual pleasure. (De Wilde is known for her work with Prada, Elliot Smith, Fiona Apple, and Rodarte, among others). Eleanor Catton, the novelist of 2013’s The Luminaries, will write the script. It’s a testament to the universal nature of Austen’s novels that after over 200 years her material continues to inspire new and moving adaptations. There’s something very essential about the struggles her female leads contend with. It’s hard to imagine what Austen would make of her presence today. We can be sure this adaptation won’t be the last, though.END
prev link: https://www.crfashionbook.com/culture/a30224286/jane-austen-pop-culture-clueless-emma/
createdAt:Fri, 13 Dec 2019 19:28:09 +0000