Deborah Yaffe

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Who you callin' unpublished?

By Deborah Yaffe, Jun 2 2016 01:00PM

So I’ve finally seen Whit Stillman’s Love and Friendship, the much-heralded film adaptation of Lady Susan. (I enjoyed it, if perhaps not quite as rapturously as other critics.) But I was mildly annoyed, in my pedantic, can’t-we-get-things-right way, by the promotional email from Amazon Video that arrived in my in-box on the very day of my cinematic expedition.


“Delight in the comic mastery of Love & Friendship, an Amazon Original movie based on an unpublished Jane Austen novella,” the email proclaimed.


Unpublished? The uninitiated could be forgiven for thinking they were about to see a movie adaptation of some work known only as a dusty manuscript stashed on the shelves of a distant library. Rather than, say, a movie adaptation of something that’s available in dozens of hardback, paperback and e-book editions. (I have a soft spot for this particular version, with its Lady Susan Goes Hollywood cover. Who knew they had mascara that good in the eighteenth century?)


To be fair, the movie’s official web site offers an entirely accurate publication history – possible 1790s composition, 1805 fair copy, 1871 publication in the second edition of J.E. Austen-Leigh’s Memoir. But I guess no one bothered to tell the sales team that “unpublished in the author’s lifetime” isn’t quite the same as “unpublished.”


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