Deborah Yaffe

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Pet Jane Austen Peeve #83: Movie Quotes Aren't Book Quotes

By Deborah Yaffe, Aug 25 2014 01:34PM

I suppose I should just stop banging my head against the same old brick wall. But really: if you’re going to go to the trouble of including a Jane Austen mug in a series that “features a portrait of a beloved author along with several quotes from his or her canon,” wouldn’t you make sure that all the quotes actually come from the canon?


Initially, I was quite charmed by this mug (lively and colorful design, opening sentence of Pride and Prejudice, fun quotes from Emma, heartfelt lines from Mr. Knightley and Captain Wentworth) -- until I glimpsed, just wrapping around the side, that dreaded creature: the Jane Austen movie quote masquerading as a Jane Austen book quote.


You can’t see it all, but you can see enough to know that what’s there is this: “It isn’t what we say or think that defines us but what we do.”


All over the internet, this line is attributed to Jane Austen. Nevertheless,despite the wisdom of crowds, it is not a Jane Austen quote. It is a quote from the screenplay of Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. I like that adaptation quite a lot. Indeed, I like most of Davies’ work. I don’t even mind that line. Jane Austen probably would have agreed with it, had she ever been asked for her opinion.


Which she wasn’t. Because she didn’t write it. So could we please save that quote for the Andrew Davies mug and come up with something else for Austen’s?



2 comments
Aug 25 2014 09:59PM by A. Marie

So glad to hear that at least one other Janeite (I know there are more of us out there) runs mad as often as she chuses over this issue. And does it drive you as crazy as it does me when "Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint" (with modernized spellling to boot) is attributed to MP rather than Love and Freindship, thanks to the Patricia Rozema film of MP?

Aug 26 2014 01:01AM by dyaffe

I actually haven't seen that particular mistake, though it doesn't surprise me. There was an episode of "Call the Midwife" which had a quote from Rozema's film attributed to MP.

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