Deborah Yaffe

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Waiting for "Austenland"

By Deborah Yaffe, Sep 5 2013 01:00PM

"Austenland," the new movie based on Shannon Hale's novel about a Colin Firth-obsessed woman vacationing at a Regency theme park, won't open in a multiplex near me for another ten days -- or so the movie's perky little web site informs me.


Despite the generally atrocious reviews -- "embarrassingly juvenile," says the New York Times -- I've been looking forward to this movie ever since I heard it was being made. The book was fun, and wih JJ Feild playing the hero, how could you go wrong? (I may eat those words soon, but for now I remain optimistic.)


Meanwhile, here's an interview in which Hale talks about her Austen-love and why Henry Tilney (once played -- definitively, in my opinion -- by JJ Feild) doesn't get as much swoony admiration as Mr. Darcy. Her basic argument: we readers identify with Elizabeth Bennet and therefore like the guy who's smart enough to fall in love with her.


There's a bit of the plain-Lizzy meme at work in Hale's thesis, but it's an interesting idea nonetheless, this suggestion that we're really falling in love with idealized versions of ourselves when we swoon for Austen heroes. Might be right. . .


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