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April 2017

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ARGH! I have just finished watching A&E's Biography of Jane Austen, and I am so disgusted. If all of the series is like this, I am amazed that it has won any awards.


The only things about the show which labeled it a "biography" is that it mentioned her years of birth and death, where she lived in her lifetime, her two suitors, and the fact that she had a ten-year writing hiatus. Her sister Cassandra was mentioned, and her father to a lesser extent, but only one of her brothers in passing. Had she not written such well known letters to her nieces, the entire rest of her family might have been ignored.

The show spent far too much time on the movie Bride and Prejudice - in fact, it was in a large part an ad for that movie. It spent a lot of time on Austen's works, how they have affected people, how often they have been brought to the screen. They even mentioned Janeites. This would all be very nice if the show was about Austen's literary influence. But it was supposed to be a biography. Right?

So, what would I have added? How about taking the cameras and running around Stephenton, Bath, and Chawton? How about a quick explanation on the position in society of a country clergyman/gentleman farmer, which is what Jane's father was? What about telling the viewer that she had six brothers? One of her brothers was adopted by a wealthy family and changed his name, like Frank Churchill in Emma, and at least one was a sailor, from which sprang her regard for the Navy as expressed in Persuasion. This wasn't worth mentioning? What about the fact that most theories are that she died of Addison's disease? And if they were going to discuss her works, why not tell the years her novels were actually published, and in what form? Why not compare them to her contemporaries?

This DVD was a total waste of money, and I think I'll give it to the library.

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