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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Playing Emma: Introducing Austen's Characters to Each Other | a conversation

I hope you guys are enjoying these conversations as much as I enjoy putting them together, 'cause I gotta tell ya: this is one of my favorite things about Austen in August. I love seeing yous guys get a little more informal, a little playful and creative with your answers, and I love how nicely they dovetail together - it's like we really are sitting around, chatting, cocktails in hand!
Anyway, on to one of my favorite conversations, as there are so many things mentioned that I can totally see (and totally want to see) becoming new adaptations. And who doesn't like to play Emma on occasion? ;)
I asked:


MISTY: This is always one of my favorite questions, because nearly always it's something Janeites have thought about, and there are always some really good pairings - and I'm just as big a fan of the catastophic ones as the beneficial ones...
So, who should get to know whom?
CASSANDRA: Ooh, too many possibilities! Emma Woodhouse to Charlotte Lucas! I like to think she would have match-made a better husband for her than Mr Collins!
MISTYThat she most certainly would, but... wouldn't be that hard to top Collins, now, would it?
CASSANDRA: Lady Catherine de Bourgh to Lady Russell. Hopefully, the latter would teach Lady C some better manners!
MISTY: Hmm. I feel like they would just try to interfere in each other's lives. But god forbid they should team up!
JUNE: A single man in possession of 12,000 pounds and an estate, must be in want of a wife. I would introduce James Rushworth to Elinor Dashwood. She deserved better than Edward Ferrars, who should have told Elinor about his engagement from the start.
MISTY: I think we all agree on Edward (naughty, naughty), but I don't know that I'd saddle Elinor with Rushworth. With his estate, absolutely. But the woman needs someone with more sense than that!
MARIA: I think Anne Elliot and Elinor Dashwood could become very good friends. I think they are very similar in disposition and character. It would be interesting to listen to a conversation between then.
MISTY: And Anne and Wentworth could visit at Southerton Court, which Elinor inherits after Rushworth trips over the ha-ha and hits his head on a rock... *grins, but then feels bad for idiot-Rushworth.* No, but seriously, I think they'd get along.
DEBORAH: I think Elinor Dashwood and Anne Elliot would be BFFs almost instantly – and poor Anne could certainly use a nice, sensible friend her own age.
SALLY: Austen’s characters are so fully formed and fit so well in their respective stories that I cannot imagine them anywhere else or interacting with anyone else. That said, perhaps Mr. Elton and Mr. Collins might create the perfect storm of idiocy and implode.
MISTY: One can dream...
JESSICA: I would love to do a modern YA mashup in which Emma and Lizzy are high school BFFs...hijinks and hilarity would naturally ensue.
MISTY: Yes. This. Make this happen, please.
ALEXA: I actually began an entire storyline in which several of Austen's characters were thrown recklessly together. "A Mixed Up Mashup" was the result of my crazed postpartum fantasies, over indulged while taking long walks with my daughter when she was an infant (you can read this unfinished piece on my blog). My favorite outcome of this experiment was probably the easy and natural friendships formed between Mr. Darcy and Anne Elliot, Catherine Morland and Emma Woodhouse, and Lady Catherine and Elizabeth Elliot. These characters just seemed to naturally align.
MISTY: Yes, some of them certainly do. I imagine Miss Elliot would be an Elizabeth Lady Catherine would find acceptable...
ALEXA: Also interesting was the manner in which John Dashwood tied himself to Sir Walter Elliot coattails. Part of me wants to revisit the story to see how it all turns out, but I ran into a narcissistic wall when I actually wrote myself into the plot. Tottering on exceedingly dangerous ground, it seemed best to desist.
MISTY: Haha!
KARA: I would introduce Mr. Darcy to Capt. Wentworth and Mr. Knightley. I think those 3 men would have much to share with each other about steadfast and constant love and affection that endures through difficult circumstances and great lengths of time. Yes, I believe those three men would truly enjoy each other’s' company with me at the private dinner I would be hosting for them!
MISTY: ...I like the way you think, Kara. Alright, who else needs to meet?
ALYSSA: Maybe Mrs. Bates and Mr. Collins. That conversation could roll on and on forever.
MISTY: *shudder* Yes, that it would. They'd both be happy, though - and I suppose it would be to the benefit of those around them, as they could keep each other occupied...
CASSANDRA: Same for Mary Musgrove to Mr Woodhouse. They would be able to talk all day long about their ailments, and Mr W would no doubt have plenty of suggestions for cures for the lady!
ALYSSA: Caroline Bingley and Henry Crawford would no doubt get along famously. He could distract her from her Darcy infatuation and no doubt appeal to her bad-girl personality. A little ruination would be good for Caroline, and Henry is just the bloke to provide it.
MISTY: "A little ruination would be good for Caroline..." I like that. I think Henry would find her too easy a target, though. Kinda boring. Though it'd certainly be interesting.
CASSANDRA: Marianne Dashwood to Catherine Morland. Sensibility, over imagination and romance overload! Would love to see what Jane Austen's witty pen would do with them!
MISTY: I can just imagine the dramatic sighs now...
NANCY: A part of me would like to put Marianne and Mrs. Bennet in the same room to see who would win in a battle of the drama queens. I think Marianne would put Mrs. Bennet firmly in her place as one who has no true feelings.
MISTY: I think Marianne would try to put Mrs Bennet in her place, but it would go over Mrs. B's head...
NANCY: Perhaps Wickham and Willoughby could meet in a rundown inn somewhere and discuss their misfortunes over a pint? Wickham might offer Willoughby a few pointers on how to attempt to regain Marianne’s affections.
MISTY: I can see them developing a very firm, very unhealthy friendship, and I've honestly been surprised for awhile now that no one has written it.
NANCY: The firmest friendship would likely be between Darcy and Knightley--both landowners of large estates with generations of family history behind them, both solid, upstanding English gentlemen, both married to clever, lively young ladies.
MISTY: And considering that Jessica thinks Lizzie and Emma would get on quite nicely, I think there are a few of us in agreement on that pairing.
LAURIE: I'd like to see Henry and Catherine Tilney meet up with and befriend Elizabeth and Darcy on holiday in Lyme or some other beautiful setting. I can see Henry and Elizabeth entertaining each other with witty banter, Henry loosening up Darcy and getting him to laugh a lot, and Elizabeth taking Catherine on long country walks and persuading her not to be intimidated by Darcy, who is really a lot friendlier than he seems.
MISTY: I can absolutely see that! Elizabeth would be a steadying influence on Catherine - but she'd also have fun teasing her.
CAROL: If Elizabeth Bennet had been a friend of Anne Elliot, Lady Russell would likely not have had such unalloyed influence over her…
MISTY: So pretty much, Elizabeth Bennet is the shit, and everybody wants to be her friend. *grins*
CAROL: ...but then, we might not have had Persuasion.
MISTY: Oh, yeah... Okay, scratch that. Catherine can keep Elizabeth for now.
LAURIE: Also--and I'm sure this is because I just watched a marathon of Orange is the New Black, I find myself wondering how Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Fanny Dashwood would fare as cellmates in a women's prison. I envision Lady C as the queen bee of all the inmates, and Fanny Dashwood as her second in command. How about that for a Netflix Original Series?
MISTY: *absolutely loses it. Laughs for five straight minutes, then, wiping a tear from her eye* Someone please make this happen. Please.
CAROL: If I could put Caroline Bingley and Fanny Dashwood in a room, to discuss which gives better dinner-parties, I wonder which would come out alive?
MISTY: Hmm... I think we've had this coversation before... *winks*
DEBORAH: Or we could organize an Austen Poisonous Bitches Convention, featuring plenary addresses by Fanny Dashwood and Lucy Steele, the only PBs who end up with way more than they deserve. I imagine Isabella Thorpe and Penelope Clay standing in line to get Lucy to sign their copies of her book, No Sacrifice But Time and Conscience: How to Secure Every Advantage of Fortune. (“You’re my inspiration, Mrs. Ferrars! I’ve got PostIt notes on every page!”)
MISTY: And then they tell every person that they know that they are the close, intimate friends of the two famous ladies, who actually look on them with disdain...
MONICA: I would like to introduce Lizzy to Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall. He’d be perfect for “making sport of our neighbours.” Their meeting would run something like this:
“Mrs Darcy? Of the Darcys of Pemberley?”
“Yes, indeed. Are you acquainted with the family?”
“I have not had the pleasure, though I have read about them.”
“Is that so, Sir Walter? Are you fond of reading?”
“Certainly not. I never take up any book but the Baronatage."
MISTY: *snorts*
MONICA: *grins, but continues*
"...Speaking of which, are you acquainted with our illustrious relation, the dowager Viscountess Dalrymple? We are expecting her to honour us with her presence any moment. I would be happy to introduce you, Mrs Darcy.”
Lizzy smothers a smile. “That is very kind of you, Sir Walter, but I am to meet my husband. In fact, he is coming my way right now. If you’ll excuse me.”
Sir Walter follows her, looking in the mirror as he walks by it and straightening his cravat.
“Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley? He is a well-looking man,” says Sir Walter, “a very well-looking man. I wonder if you would be so kind as to make the introductions?”
“I’m afraid my husband is rather tired today. But perhaps I could introduce you to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, also a relation of ours? She will be putting in an appearance at the Pump Room tomorrow morning.”
Sir Walter hesitates. Should he insist on meeting Darcy and forgo the privilege of meeting Lady Catherine, or should he aim at the higher prize?
MISTY: Nailed it.

So, what do you think of some of these pairings? Match made in heaven, or Jerry Springer-brawl* waiting to happen? And who would you introduce?

Participants in this discussion:
Alexa Adams, author of the "A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice" series
Carol Cromlin, author of Fitzwilliam Darcy such as I was
Monica Fairview, author of The Other Mr Darcy, The Darcy Cousins, et al.
Alyssa Goodnight, author of Austentatious, Austensibly Ordinary, et al.
Maria Grace, author of the Given Good Principles series
Cassandra Grafton, author of A Fair Prospect
Jessica Grey, author of Attempting Elizabeth
Nancy Kelley, author of the Brides of Pemberely series
Kara Louise, author of Only Mr Darcy Will Do, Pirates and Prejudice, et al.
Sally Smith O'Rourke, author of The Man Who Loved Jane Austen
Laurie Viera Rigler, author of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict
June Williams, co-author of Headstrong Girls.
and Deborah Yaffe, author of Among the Janeites


*Things I never thought I'd mention at the same time: Jane Austen and Jerry Springer. Check.


Click the pic to be taken to the Austen in August Main Page! Thanks to faestock & inadesign for the images used to create this button.

29 comments:

  1. Lovely discussion! It had never occurred to me before but Charlotte could definitely have done with a matchmaker and Emma would have undertaken this with gusto.

    I don't want poor Rushworth killed off, he suffers enough by marrying the horrible Maria Bertram. However, it occurs to me that another Maria, Maria Lucas might've been right up his street. I can't remember what it said about her appearance, but she's not the sharpest tool in the box so she might not notice that Rushworth isn't either, and she seems a nice enough little thing.

    I really did laugh your idea of him tripping over the haha, and I laughed even more after I googled what one looked like, I bet ha-ha accidents were commonplace as well as being comedic :)

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    1. I hate to kill Rushworth off, but isn't he EXACTLY the type you could see tripping and dying on a ha ha? ;)

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    2. If Mr Collins had a ha-ha I bet he would trip and die on it, clumsy oaf that he is :)

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    3. Collins will never die, don't kid yourself. ;)

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  2. Loved this post! Miss Bates and Mr. Collins...now that's a conversation I'd want to hear only a little bit of! ;)

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  3. See, this is why Nancy and I are friends... I'm now totally putting a Knightley / Darcy friendship in my Lizzy / Emma YA mashup.

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    Replies
    1. Yes! Add this to your list. :D Just like I've recently added P&P with Elves to my list.

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    2. I am so used to how Nancy's brain works that all she has to do is text me P&P with Elves and I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT SHE IS TALKING ABOUT AND IT IS EPIC, THE END.

      And yes, this shall go on my list along with Mansfield Perk and YA gender flipped NA. The list is getting long.

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    3. Please tell me "Mansfield Perk" is the name of a coffee shop. =D

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    4. YES!! P&P with Elves. (All thanks to Rebecca, who sprinkled copious "OMG Seb is an ELF LORD" notes through her beta of Against His Will.) Now I really really want to write an epic fantasy version of P&P with Elves. Meanwhile, she's writing a fairy tale version take off of East of the Sun and West of the Moon. Yes--Darcy as a polar bear.

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    5. OH MY GOD, DO YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT EAST O' THE SUN, WEST O' THE MOON?! I'm sorry that I'm yelling, but I'M HAVING SERIOUS FEELS RIGHT NOW.
      This - I need this. This needs to be a thing in my hands RIGHT NOW.

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    6. In fact I do, which was why I told you. ;)

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    7. ...You're messing with my feels, Nancy. You're KNOWINGLY messing with my feels... ;P

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  4. I would love to put Mr Palmer, Col. Christopher Brandon and Mr. Darcy in a room, I am not sure if there would be any conversation, just mutual nods over newspaper articles.
    Also it would be interesting to put Mrs. Bennet, Mrs. Jennings, Charlotte Jennings Palmer and Lady Catherine De Burg in a locked room for tea. Why the locked room? I am pretty sure Lady Catherine De Burg would take one look at her tea companions and immediately exit the room. Once the room was unlocked, a pale, glowing (also sure she doesn't perspire) Lady De Burg would call for her Physician and a double dose of Laudanum. Mrs. Bennet, Mrs. Jennings and Charlotte would probably continuing talking oblivious to Mrs. De Burg's exit, well into the night.

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    Replies
    1. Mutual nods over newspapers, just so. lol!

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  5. I love all these introductions. I think I would like to introduce Kitty Bennet to anyone who would be a better influence on her and someone who didn't overshadow her all the time! Possibly Margaret Dashwood or the Dashwood sisters as a set.
    Whilloughby and Wickham would be a nightmare, but can you imagine Col. Brandon and Darcy teaming up to stop them?
    Elinor could do better but maybe she could meet Col. Fitzwilliam??(who's fortunes have improved for some reason and he doesn't have to marry for money)

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  6. This was such an entertaining read. There were several good new adaptation ideas and these are exactly the ladies who could pull them off! So excited to see a Darcy, Brandon, Knightley mashup - but agree the book would probably be 300 pages of glances while reading the newspaper. This would force Lizzy, Emma and Marianne to entertain themselves by getting into trouble...

    These mashups are like Marvel's Avengers! All the super-Austens in one book to create AWESOMENESS.

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  7. The most inspired Avengers-like mashup I know is Maggie Sullivan's League of Austen's Extraordinary Gentlemen, which ran three years ago on AustenBlog. (Part I is here: http://www.thebookrat.com/2013/08/playing-emma-introducing-austens.html#more) Different Austen protagonists unite to roll back the tide of supernatural creatures who are threatening to infiltrate Austen's world (this was back at the height of P&P&Zombies mania). IIRC, the clergymen characters (Henry Tilney, Edward Ferrars, etc.) busy themselves driving stakes through vampire hearts, the soldiers take on the zombies, the naval men attack the sea monsters, the landowners (Darcy, Knightley) battle the werewolves, and Henry Crawford is nearly torn to pieces by a ravening horde of fangirls, which fits well with our earlier Reforming the Rakes conversation. It's so hilarious that you will spit coffee on the computer screen, so proceed with caution.

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    1. Well, I know what I'll be doing as soon as I have a spare moment... =D

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    2. And I notice I pasted the wrong link. Which is kind of typical of my tech savvy. This one should work rather better:
      http://austenblog.com/2010/01/24/the-league-of-austens-extraordinary-gentlemen-part-the-first/

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  8. OMG it's my turn to wipe my eyes after crying from laughter. Especially Rushworth tripping over the ha-ha, Lucy Steele's bestselling self-help book, and that "perfect storm of idiocy" formed by Mr. Collins and Mr. Elton! You ladies rock!

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  9. Oh my gosh, well, you all nailed it beautifully. I love Austen, partially because in the grand universe of her writings, the characters are quite universal- and we see reflections of one from this novel to one from that novel, even if their quirks are treated in better or worse lights, and their purpose in the novels are vastly different. They seem to be true people, and thus likely to get along with the counterparts from other novels.

    I think some could use a mashup, though....what Anne Elliot and Elinor Dashwood could do to guide Kitty Bennet to a better self! How Marianne might benefit from a sobering look at the problems caused by Catherine Morland's flights of fancy, or Lydia Bennet's....Lydia-ness. And I have a sneaking suspicion that, if you threw them all together in a manor house for the summer, some of the romances might fall out quite differently.

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    1. (and damnit, now I keep daydreaming of Austen crossover romances! Ack!)

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  10. I don't think I could offer another set of combinations that haven't already occurred to someone else. Hmm, still thinking. Fanny Price and Jane Fairfax could quietly compare notes in the corner of a large party of all Jane Austen's characters meeting together for a Country House weekend.

    Love these convos!

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  11. I love the idea of the Darcys, Wentworths and Knightleys as good friends. The husbands meet to discuss land ownership and farming topics while their wives talk about match-making their unmarried friends, domestic issues and shop together. Elizabeth and Emma can also draw Fanny into their gathering and with their tutelage she will not be so timid. If both are too boisterous, Anne can provide a steady balance to the group.

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  12. How about Col Fitzwilliam and Emma? She's rich, lively and intelligent and he's a lot of fun. Let's hook up Elinor Dashwood with Mr. Knightly instead. She doesn't deserve Edward Ferrars.

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