I was recently introduced to virtual strangers as a “great admirer” of Jane Austen, as if that were almost an excuse, an apology, or a warning…I’m not sure which. I do not deny my Jane Austen obsession. I am joined by legions of (mostly) women who refer to themselves as Janeites and celebrate the author and her work in any way they can. Why? You might ask. There are several reasons; likeable characters, restrained romantic encounters, great dialogue, lush landscapes, great houses, etc. but this is not to be some treatise on the literary constructs, but a few of the reasons why a girl from Sin City found refuge in a faraway land set hundreds of years ago, that started a chain of events that I will refer to as the Jane Austen Syndrome.
First off, when I was 19* I visited England for the first time. That was it for me. I was home. And I’ve been trying to get back there ever since, having achieved success only once more (so far). I always felt a little out of place in my hometown, and finding this sense of “home” was intriguing and compelling. So, upon my return home I started to devour all things English. It was later that year when Sense & Sensibility was released. (*Oh gracious, don’t do the math.) My literary education had never included Jane Austen. This was my first introduction, and the first domino.
Sense & Sensibility, where to start. I have a much younger sister, and for many years I had to maintain a certain Eleanor appearance in regards to keeping emotions in check. So that rang true for me personally. The men were dashing and handsome, but there was more to it than that. The lifestyle, the manners, the propriety, the rules…all of this was fairly new to me and I loved it all.
From there I discovered the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth (whom I still love to this day) and Jennifer Ehle, which is the basis for all boy meets girl romantic comedies. It was official. I now understood. I was a Janeite. At this point I started to watch any version of any Jane Austen film made to date, but had yet to pick up a novel. Once that happened, it was just another stepping stone in my love affair with England. It is on this topic I could write a treatise.
I discovered that through certain films, I was introduced to time periods that affected not only me but my writing greatly. Which, hopefully, you’ll see when my screenplays come to the big screen. *Fingers crossed. I dream(ed) of the Mr. Darcy and the gentlemanly ways of a time gone by. Today you’re lucky if a man will hold the door for you (this is a generalization, albeit a fairly accurate generalization. Sorry guys, but you should know that you will win more favor with a few kind acts, and that most women would love to be treated like a lady. And let me add a side note, women should act like they deserve to be treated as ladies, this is the Janeite in me.). There were manners and standards. And this is a side effect of “the syndrome”. Once immersed in a world we’d prefer still existed in some regard, most things pale in comparison. It was this introduction that has led to my Anglophile status – why I swoon at an English accent, love high tea, developed a passion for history, have dressed in Victorian garb on more than one occasion, will watch any English period piece, have a fondness for the Queen, want to join the Society of Creative Anachronism, and desire to settle in an adorable manor in the English countryside…Jane, what have you done to me?!
Now I shall go immerse myself in some history in my own script, so I suppose a “Thank you, Jane” is in order as well. 🙂
Have a great week everyone!