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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Must stop can't stop

I really should stop. Don’t torture myself, right? Just surrender my Jane Austen Critical Faculties license, turn in my Janeite Purist card, and let the great tide of Undifferentiated Jane-ness suck me under. But I can’t help myself. It really drives me crazy when people attribute to Jane Austen – herself, the author – any old line that ever occurred in a commercial property adapted from one of her books. It also bugs me when people with access to a vast array of searchable online databases can’t be bothered to check the accuracy of their Austen quoting. Kids these days! So sloppy! Last week, I ran across an article in the on-line women’s magazine Bustle, which seems to be a central clearinghouse for Janeite misinformation, listing “19 Jane Austen Quotes That Can Fit In a Tweet.” I knew we were off to a difficult start when the story cited as particularly swoony the scene from Ang Lee’s 1995 movie of Sense and Sensibility in which Alan Rickman carries Kate Winslet through the rain. I’m not immune to the swooniness of that scene, but it is not, after all, in the book. At all. In any form whatsoever. So if we’re working on “Austen Quotes to Make Your Twitter More Literary” (my emphasis), as reads the tagline that appears at the top of your screen when you click into the body of the story, this hardly seems a relevant touchstone. Well, you know where I’m going with this. Of the 19 alleged “Jane Austen Quotes,” three are from Austen movies and appear nowhere in the associated book: #3 (“I come here with no expectations, only to profess, now that I am at liberty to do so, that my heart is and always will be yours” – "Sense and Sensibility," 1995), #7 (“No man dies of love but on the stage” – "Mansfield Park," 1999) and #18 (“I may have lost my heart, but not my self-control” – "Emma," 1996). Of the others, three (#5, #8 and #11) are slightly misquoted and one of those is attributed to the wrong book (it’s Captain Wentworth in Persuasion, not somebody from Pride and Prejudice, who must content himself with “being happier than I deserve.”) Yes, I really should stop all this obsessing. But hey – "there is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others." (#14. And that one really is from Pride and Prejudice.)


Oct 20 2014 09:07PM by A. Marie

My sofa has a broken spring in it, caused by my bouncing up and down on it and yelling, "No! No! It's not right!" at the films. And now everyone thinks the films ARE the novels. If you need a fellow inmate for a padded cell, I'm available.

Oct 20 2014 10:45PM by Deborah Yaffe

LOL. I think it might take more than one cell to fit all of us annoyed Janeites. . .

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