• Deborah Yaffe

Not so timeless

As regular blog readers know, among my favorite pastimes is mocking the internet for its habit of attributing quotations from screen adaptations of Jane Austen's novels – i.e., lines written by people other than Jane Austen – to Austen herself. More than three years ago, I even went to the trouble of compiling a list of the top six such misquotations.


Unaccountably, however, this post did not persuade the internet to mend its ways, or even to conduct an occasional text search. And so we come to “Jane Austen on Love & Relationships: Timeless advice from her works & words,” recently posted by one Stephanie Parry on a site called The Good Men Project, which purports to be steering “a much-needed cultural conversation about manhood.”


Parry, who bills herself as “a poet, writer, moon lover, and witch,” wants to establish her Austen bona fides up front: “As a little girl, I poured [sic] over the words of Jane Austen,” she tells us. Alas, it may have been a few years since Parry did her po(u)ring, given that, of the eight quotes she cites as examples of Austen’s timeless wisdom, three were not written by Austen:


* “We are all fools in love,” which Parry describes, hilariously, as “one of [Austen’s] most famous lines of all time,” comes not from Pride and Prejudice but from Joe Wright's 2005 screen adaptation of the novel;


* “To love is to burn, to be on fire” comes not from Sense and Sensibility, but from Ang Lee's 1995 movie thereof;


* “There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time” comes not from Mansfield Park but from Patricia Rozema’s 1999 movie of Mansfield Park.


As it happens, all three of these faux Austen quotes made my list of “The Top Five (Or, Actually, Six) Faux Jane Austen Quotes.” Timeless wisdom? I guess not.

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