By Deborah Yaffe, Mar 7 2016 02:00PM
It’s time again for one of my favorite pastimes: Making Fun of the Internet – Jane Austen Edition. Today’s episode includes two entries:
1. Over at Blastr, the Syfy channel’s pop culture website, a writer calling herself Geek Girl Diva wrote recently about “shipping,” the common practice in fandom of rooting for a romantic relationship between two fictional characters, often while devising a cute portmanteau nickname for the would-be happy couple.
Shipping isn’t new, Geek Girl Diva argued: “Soap operas have been feeding ships since they were invented back in the '30s,” she explained. “Reach back further and look [at] Jane Austen’s books. How many readers have fallen in love with the Catherine Bennet/Mr. Darcy ship (Carcy? Darnnet? Bency?)”
How many? Zero, I’m pretty sure. True, I did for a moment enjoy myself by imagining the trainwreck that would follow a romance between Mr. Darcy and Kitty Bennet: he so proud, she so . . . vapid and whiny. But no: I kinda think Geek Girl Diva meant Elizabeth. Might want to double-check the info next time, before coming up with the cute ship name.
2. Regular blog readers know that in the past I have found one or two instances of people misquoting Jane Austen online. One or two. . . million. (See here, for example).
Usually, the misquoting takes the form of a list of, say, ten or fifteen “Jane Austen quotes” that includes one or two that actually come from Jane Austen movies. Let it now be known: the folks compiling those lists were amateurs.
For I now bring you a list recently posted by one Melinda Fox on FamilyShare, an online community that aims to “strengthen and inspire families.” Ms. Fox offers “11 Jane Austen quotes that sum up everything you need to know about love.”
#1: “Perhaps it is our imperfections that make us perfect for one another.” Not Jane Austen – Douglas McGrath’s screenplay for the 1996 movie adaptation of Emma. (And, as long as we're getting things right, the exact quote is, “Maybe it is our imperfections which make us so perfect for one another.”)
#2: “There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.” Not Jane Austen – Patricia Rozema’s screenplay for the 1999 movie adaptation of Mansfield Park.
#3: “I dream of a love that even time will lie down and be still for.” Not Jane Austen. Not even a Jane Austen movie. Robin Swicord’s screenplay for the 1998 movie adaptation of Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman. (At least, that's what the Internet says; I don't have the movie handy, so I can't check. And, as we are learning here, the Internet can't always be trusted.)
#4: “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” At last! Yes, this one is really from Emma!
#5: “I must learn to be content with being happier than I deserve.” Sort of Jane Austen. It’s a misquoted version of a line from Persuasion, as I have noted elsewhere.
#6: “It is such a happiness when good people get together, and they always do.” Yes! It’s Jane Austen! From Emma!
#7: “We are all fools in love.” Nope. Deborah Moggach’s screenplay for the 2005 movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
#8: “There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart.” Good work! It’s really Austen! From Emma again!
#9: “I am determined that only the deepest love will induce me into matrimony.” Alas, no. I love Andrew Davies, but his screenplay for the iconic 1995 mini-series of Pride and Prejudice is not by Jane Austen. And as delivered by Jennifer Ehle, the line actually reads, “I am determined that nothing but the very deepest love will induce me into matrimony.”
#10: “I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” But she finishes strong! Yes, that’s our Mr. Darcy!
#11: What, you thought she was doing eleven? Why? Oh, yeah – the headline. No, just ten.
Final score: Four genuine Jane Austen quotes, one misquoted Jane Austen quote, four Jane Austen movie quotes (from four different movies!), and one quote that has absolutely nothing to do with Jane Austen. Plus our list-maker can’t count. If we’re being generous, a .50 batting average. Kind of impressive, no? Especially given how easy it is to CHECK THE TEXT.