Monday, March 9, 2015

The 200th Anniversary of Emma

Romola Garai as Emma in the 2009 BBC miniseries
This year marks the 200th Anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen's Emma. Now, its not until December 25th, but since Emma is one of my favorite novels, we are going to talk about it this week. 

Before she started the novel, Jane Austen said, "I'm going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like." Then she proceeded to write one of the greatest novels in the English language. 

The first line of the novel captures that statement and sets the tone for the rest of the novel:
"Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her."

Emma is practically perfect; her only downfall is that she knows she is perfect. Therefore, she spends the entire novel trying to arrange other peoples' lives since she believes she is a model matchmaker. She royally messes up everyone's lives and her own in the process; and the hilarity and awkward situations commence. What I think makes this book so loved is the growth the reader sees in Emma from the beginning of the book to the end. Everyone is at least a little annoyed by Emma at the beginning, but we cheer for her to become a better version of herself through the course of the book. 


Cool old copy of Emma


Fun fact about the publishing of Emma: The Prince Regent at the time was a huge fan of Jane Austen, so much so that he demanded that she dedicate Emma to him. Jane hated the Prince Regent, so she settled for a satirical and pompous dedication. "To his Royal Highness, the Prince Regent, this work is, by his Royal Highness's permission, most respectfully dedicated, by his Royal Highness's dutiful and obedient humble servant, The Author." Every time I read this I can imagine her writing this and smirking as she does it. 


Clueless: Cher and her crew

Emma has spawned many adaptations and retellings, such as the popular 90s movie, Clueless. It also has been remade into a web series called Emma Approved. It was made by the same people who created The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (you can read about my obsession with them here). 
You can check out the first couple of episodes of Emma Approved on YouTube here. I promise you that they are Simply Austen approved. 



Besides actually reading the novel, my favorite (and the most faithful) adaptation is the 2009 BBC mini series starring Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller as Emma and Knightley. It honestly might be my favorite Jane Austen adaptation ever. It's that good. 

Have you ever read Emma? Did you like it? Have you ever seen any of the adaptations? Which ones?



8 comments:

  1. I love all of your interesting facts! I feel like your blog gives me a little window of education every time I read it. I had no idea Clueless was based off of a Jane Austen novel; how cool! My sister was just telling me this weekend how much she loved Emma; it's on my summer reading list, now!

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  2. I love all of your interesting facts! I feel like your blog gives me a little window of education every time I read it. I had no idea Clueless was based off of a Jane Austen novel; how cool! My sister was just telling me this weekend how much she loved Emma; it's on my summer reading list, now!

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  4. I love Emma! It's probably one of my favorite books of all time, but I haven't really seen any of the adaptions besides Clueless. That's something I'll definitely have to look in to.

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  5. I am definitely going to read Emma this coming summer! Thank you for offering your own thoughts and all those interesting facts about the novel!

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  7. I have not read Emma, but believe me, it is on my book list. I feel like I have a responsibility to read it because I have the same name of a classic book. I have seen a few episodes of Emma Approved, however, but I have yet to finish it.

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  8. I've seen the 1999 adaptation of Mansfield Park. It's a very good movie, but a terrible adaptation of Austen's book. If you can separate the two, it's very enjoyable. Jonny Lee Miller is in that one, too!

    I think it's funny that Austen said no one would like Emma but her. I feel like most authors must secretly (or in Austen's case, openly) love the characters they design to be hated. The authors are the ones who truly understand those characters, because they have be able to see them the way they see themselves, which is usually in the best light possible. The great villains think they're the heroes.

    (Not that Emma's a villain.)

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