Message from the President
Ray, Joan Klingel, Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal
THIS ISSUE OF Persuasions accompanies a period when Jane Austen and her works are again being presented to the public through popular culture. Gurinder Chadha's Bollywood (i.e., the Indian version of Hollywood) Bride and Prejudice reminds us that Emma Woodhouse was clueless when she said that one-half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other. For this film shows us that Jane Austen's primary subject, human nature, need not be limited to three or four families in an English country village. According to a Wall Street Journal reporter, with whom I spoke, who interviewed the director of the new British big screen Pride and Prejudice, due out thus summer, this film will take the approach that the story is a "rites of passage" for Elizabeth--as if her saying, "How humiliating is this discovery!--Yet how just a humiliation!!-- ... Till this moment, I never knew myself" is not one of the greatest moments of literary self-discovery ever written! (I am reminded here of when I teach a course about Jane Austen on film, and my students discover that all of the greatest scenes in the Austen-inspired films actually come from the novels.) But these films will do the service of at least getting Jane Austen's name out among those who have never heard it.
And don't read that last sentence in shock. According to some reports about Miramax Films' test runs of the Bollywood Bride and Prejudice in the American Midwest, "80% of the audience had never heard of Jane Austen and 80% had never heard of Bollywood" (Jane Austen's Regency World, November 2004, Issue 12, 11; the film premiered in England in Bath, the home of this magazine). …