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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Bicentenary envy

The year 2017 brings two severe trials for American Janeites. The first is our inevitable sadness at marking the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s untimely death. The second is our gnawing envy at realizing how many commemorative events are available only to Janeites living in or visiting England.

The latest iteration of Trial #2 is the announcement of the British Academy’s biannual Literature Week, taking place May 15-21 in London, on the theme of “Adaptations and Transformations.” Needless to say, this is a theme with enormous Austen resonance, and among the week’s dozen events – panels, lectures, walking tours, performances – on writers ranging from Shakespeare to Enid Blyton are no fewer than three about Austen.

Jo Baker, author of the excellent Pride and Prejudice spinoff Longbourn, will discuss how she wrote her book. Austen scholar Kathryn Sutherland will join two BBC representatives in a discussion of the network’s decades of Austen adaptations, including 1995’s iconic Colin Firth-Jennifer Ehle P&P. And an ongoing exhibition will offer “an interactive sensory exploration” of P&P using “type, sound, sight and scent.”

Hard to imagine what that exhibition will be like – but don’t you wish you could be there?

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