2013年2月26日 星期二

A dish of tea with Dr Johnson, Doctor Johnson's house, London, review, Dr Johnson’s beloved cat Hodge

A dish of tea with Dr Johnson, Doctor Johnson's house, London, review

A joyous encounter with the melancholic master .

Russell Barr and Ian Redford in A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson
Genuinely close encounter: Russell Barr and Ian Redford in A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson Photo: Robert Workman
I have long thought that if it were possible to meet one great figure from the past I would choose Shakespeare, so eloquent in his plays, so elusive as a man. My second choice would be Dr Johnson, with his wit and wisdom and his courage in his battles with what he called melancholy and we call depression.
The great thing about this new show from Max Stafford-Clark’s Out of Joint Company is that you emerge feeling that you have had a genuinely close encounter with the great man, especially if you have been lucky enough, like me, to catch this touring show at Johnson’s House off Fleet Street, where the play is staged in the very garret where he laboured for nine years on his dictionary.
Once the audienceare seated, the great man himself, splendidly played by Ian Redford, climbs the stairs and introduces himself.
“You are expected,” he tells us warmly, for he was a man who hated to be alone, and over the next hour and 20 minutes we feel we have come to know the great lexicographer, essayist, critic and conversationalist extremely well. His company is a delight and an education.
The show is based on Boswell’s great biography and his journal of their tour to the Hebrides, adapted by Stafford-Clark and his two actors, Redford and Russell Barr, who, as well as offering us a smooth, stylish Boswell, also switches roles with virtuosic assurance to play other members of Johnson’s circle, including the playwright Oliver Goldsmith, the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds and even Johnson’s evil-tempered housekeeper, Mrs Williams.
At most performances he also plays the last unrequited love of Johnson’s life, Mrs Thrale, but on press night the part was taken by Trudie Styler. Those tantric sex sessions with her husband Sting are clearly efficacious, for she looked terrific and after a hesitant start proved a proficient actress, too.
Ian Redford, with his bulk, his physical awkwardness and a face like a battered potato, brings Johnson to wonderfully persuasive and endearing life, delivering the epigrams with panache in a broad Midlands accent, while also capturing the sudden terror and gloom that so often afflicted this wise and apparently confident man.
It’s a tremendous performance in a show of continuous pleasure. And the appearance of Dr Johnson’s beloved cat Hodge is a comic tour de force that it would be a crime to reveal.

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Statue of Hodge (with oyster) in the courtyard outside Dr. Johnson's House, 17 Gough Square, London.
Hodge was one of Samuel Johnson's cats, immortalized in a characteristically whimsical passage in James Boswell's Life of Johnson.
Although there is little known about Hodge, such as his life, his death, or any other information, what is known is Johnson's fondness for his cat, which separated Johnson from the views held by others of the eighteenth century.

Contents

Life

Most of the information on Hodge comes from Boswell's account. It is in this passage that Johnson is claimed to have an affection for animals in general, or at least the ones that he kept:
Nor would it be just, under this head, to omit the fondness which he showed for animals which he had taken under his protection. I never shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge, his cat: for whom he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the servants having that trouble should take a dislike to the poor creature. I am, unluckily, one of those who have an antipathy to a cat, so that I am uneasy when in the room with one; and I own, I frequently suffered a good deal from the presence of this same Hodge. I recollect him one day scrambling up Dr. Johnson's breast, apparently with much satisfaction, while my friend smiling and half-whistling, rubbed down his back, and pulled him by the tail; and when I observed he was a fine cat, saying, 'Why yes, Sir, but I have had cats whom I liked better than this;' and then as if perceiving Hodge to be out of countenance, adding, 'but he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.'

This reminds me of the ludicrous account which he gave Mr. Langton, of the despicable state of a young Gentleman of good family. 'Sir, when I heard of him last, he was running about town shooting cats.' And then in a sort of kindly reverie, he bethought himself of his own favourite cat, and said, 'But Hodge shan't be shot; no, no, Hodge shall not be shot.'[1]
The latter paragraph is used as the epigraph to Vladimir Nabokov's acclaimed poem/novel Pale Fire.[2]
Johnson bought oysters for his cat. In modern England, oysters are an expensive food for the well-to-do, but in the 18th century oysters were plentiful around the coasts of England and so cheap that they were a staple food of the poor. Johnson refused to send Francis Barber to buy Hodge's food, fearing that it would be seen as degrading to his servant, so he would personally buy the food for Hodge.[3]
Boswell also noted how Johnson went out to purchase valerian to ease Hodge's suffering as death approached.[4] Although Hodge was not Johnson's only cat, it was Hodge whom he considered his favourite. Hodge was remembered in various forms, from biographical mentions during Johnson's life to poems written about the cat. On his death, Hodge's life was celebrated by an elegy by Percival Stockdale. In this poem the phrase "sable furr" indicates that Hodge was a black cat; also, the fact that Stockdale was Johnson's neighbour from 1769 onwards suggests that Hodge was alive at that time.
...Who, by his master when caressed, warmly his gratitude expressed, and never failed his thanks to purr, whene'er he stroked his sable fur.[4]
Today he is remembered by a bronze statue, unveiled by the Lord Mayor of the City of London in 1997, outside the house in Gough Square he shared with Johnson and Barber, Johnson's black manservant and heir.[5] The statue shows Hodge sitting next to a pair of empty oyster shells atop a copy of Johnson's famous dictionary, with the inscription "a very fine cat indeed".[4]

Popular culture

The cat Hodge – along with Dr. Johnson's second favourite cat, Lily – are the subjects of a book by Yvonne Skargon (Johnson is also given authorial credit) entitled, Lily and Hodge and Dr. Johnson. The book consists of quotations from Johnson's Dictionary, accompanied by Skargon's woodcarving illustrations of the two cats, contextually associated with the dictionary entries. Hodge also appears in Charlie Fletcher's "Silvertongue" as a brave and fearless cat. Hodge also appears in Samuel Beckett's early dramatic fragment Human Wishes.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Boswell p. 294
  2. ^ Sean R Silver, "Pale Fire and Johnson's Cat: The Anecdote in Polite Conversation," Criticism 53 (2011): 241–264.
  3. ^ Wain 1974, p. 375
  4. ^ a b c "100 Cats Who Changed Civilization: History's Most Influential Felines", Sam Stall, p. 88-89, Quirk Books, 2007, ISBN 1-59474-163-8
  5. ^ "The A-Z of Samuel Johnson", BBC News, 30 March 2005, retrieved 16 June 2009 [1]

References

  • Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. Ed. Christopher Hibbert. New York, Penguin Classics, 1986. 375 pp.
  • Wain, John (1974), Samuel Johnson, New York: Viking Press, OCLC 40318001.

External links


2013年2月4日 星期一

Richard III 遺骸重現 Richard III dig: DNA confirms bones are king's

Richard III 遺骸重現 或無補於對於文學文本的了解與欣賞
請讀

Richard III (play)

Richard III is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed ...
 
 1956年的劇本要點等

Richard III – a career in clips

The Guardian-4 hours agoShare
To mark the discovery of Richard III's skeleton under a car park in Leicester, we've put together some clips of the monarch's most memorable ...
Laurence Olivier's 1955 Shakespeare adaptation remains the dominant source for our assumptions of all things Richard III. Dressed in black, scowly as hell, and with that creepy, reedy intonation, Olivier's interpretation defined Richard as evil Crookback, of whom we should be grateful to Henry Tudor that we are rid. Perversely, punk rocker John Lydon cited him as a major influence, and clips from the film pop up in Julien Temple's Filth and the Fury doco. (Look for him at 1:45 in this clip.)




 
改編的電影
Richard Loncraine's 1995 film, starring Ian McKellen, is set in a fictional fascist England in the 1930s, and based on an earlier highly successful stage production. Only about half the text of the play is used. The first part of his Now is the winter of our discontent... soliloquy is a public speech, while the second part is a private monologue. The famous final line of Richard's A horse, my kingdom for a horse is spoken when his jeep becomes trapped in debris.

理查三世 遺骸重現於世

莎士比亞筆下的著名暴君理查三世,屍骨500年後出土。 (路透)
莎 士比亞筆下的著名暴君理查三世,遺骸不知去向的500年後,最近終於重現於世。列斯特大學(University of Leicester)研究人員在列斯特市一處停車場挖出的頭顱與骸骨,4日證實為這位金雀花王朝最後一位英格蘭國王所有。研究人員將這具骸骨與理查三世妹 妹後代的DNA比對吻合;這具骸骨的傷口,也與1485年死在戰場上的理查三世傷勢相符。據稱,理查三世當年是在英格蘭中部的博斯沃思原野戰役 (Battle of Bosworth Field)中,與他的最後繼承人亨利都鐸(Henry Tudor)作戰時喪命。理查三世的遺體將重新葬於列斯特大教堂。(路透)


Richard III dig: DNA confirms bones are king's

 
The skeleton is 'beyond reasonable doubt' the remains of Richard III
A skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park has been confirmed as that of English king Richard III.
Experts from the University of Leicester said DNA from the bones matched that of descendants of the monarch's family.
Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley, from the University of Leicester, told a press conference to applause: "Beyond reasonable doubt it's Richard."
Richard, killed in battle in 1485, will be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral.
Richard III graphic
Mr Buckley said the bones had been subjected to "rigorous academic study" and had been carbon dated to a period from 1455-1540.
Dr Jo Appleby, an osteo-archaeologist from the university's School of Archaeology and Ancient History, revealed the bones were of a man in his late 20s or early 30s. Richard was 32 when he died.
His skeleton had suffered 10 injuries, including eight to the skull, at around the time of death. Two of the skull wounds were potentially fatal.
One was a "slice" removing a flap of bone, the other was caused by bladed weapon which went through and hit the opposite side of the skull - a depth of more than 10cm (4ins).
'Humiliation injuries'
Dr Appleby said: "Both of these injuries would have caused an almost instant loss of consciousness and death would have followed quickly afterwards.

Who was Richard III?

The earliest surviving portrait of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral
  • Richard was born at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire, where Mary Queen of Scots was later executed
  • As Duke of Gloucester, Richard took a rampant white boar as his sign
  • His coronation took place in Westminster Abbey, in a ceremony very similar to HM the Queen's
  • Richard had one of the shortest reigns in English history - 26 months
  • He was the last English king to die in battle, killed by the forces of the future Henry VII
Source: BBC History
"In the case of the larger wound, if the blade had penetrated 7cm into the brain, which we cannot determine from the bones, death would have been instantaneous."
Other wounds included slashes or stabs to the face and the side of the head. There was also evidence of "humiliation" injuries, including a pelvic wound likely to have been caused by an upward thrust of a weapon, through the buttock.
Richard III was portrayed as deformed by some Tudor historians and indeed the skeleton's spine is badly curved, a condition known as scoliosis.
However, there was no trace of a withered arm or other abnormalities described in the more extreme characterisations of the king.
Missing princes
Without the scoliosis, which experts believe developed during teenage years, he would have been about 5ft 8ins (1.7m) tall, but the curvature would have made him appear "considerably" shorter.
Dr Appleby said: "The analysis of the skeleton proved that it was an adult male but was an unusually slender, almost feminine, build for a man.
"Taken as a whole, the skeletal evidence provides a highly convincing case for identification as Richard III."
Richard was a royal prince until the death of his brother Edward IV in 1483. Appointed as protector of his nephew, Edward V, Richard instead assumed the reins of power.
Edward and his brother Richard, known as the Princes in the Tower, disappeared soon after. Rumours circulated they had been murdered on the orders of their uncle.
Challenged by Henry Tudor, Richard was killed at Bosworth in 1485 after only two years on the throne.
DNA trail
He was given a hurried burial beneath the church of Greyfriars in the centre of Leicester.
Mr Buckley said the grave was clumsily cut, with sloping sides and too short for the body, forcing the head forward.

University of Leicester findings

Richard III's skull
• Wealth of evidence, including radiocarbon dating, radiological evidence, DNA and bone analysis and archaeological results, confirms identity of last Plantagenet king who died over 500 years ago
• DNA from skeleton matches two of Richard III's maternal line relatives. Leicester genealogist verifies living relatives of Richard III's family
• Individual likely to have been killed by one of two fatal injuries to the skull - one possibly from a sword and one possibly from a halberd
• Ten wounds discovered on skeleton - Richard III killed by trauma to the back of the head. Part of the skull sliced off
• Radiocarbon dating reveals individual had a high protein diet - including significant amounts of seafood - meaning he was likely to be of high status
• Radiocarbon dating reveals individual died in the second half of the 15th or in the early 16th Century - consistent with Richard's death in 1485
• Skeleton reveals severe scoliosis - onset believed to have occurred at the time of puberty
• Although about 5ft 8in tall (1.7m), the condition meant King Richard III would have stood significantly shorter and his right shoulder may have been higher than the left
• Feet were truncated at an unknown point in the past, but a significant time after the burial
"There was no evidence of a coffin or shroud which would have left the bones in a more compact position.
"Unusually, the arms are crossed and this could be an indication the body was buried with the wrists still tied," he added.
Greyfriars church was demolished during the Reformation in the 16th Century and over the following centuries its exact location was forgotten.
However, a team of enthusiasts and historians managed to trace the likely area - and, crucially, after painstaking genealogical research, they found a 17th-generation descendant of Richard's sister with whose DNA they could compare any remains.
Joy Ibsen, from Canada, died several years ago but her son, Michael, who now works in London, provided a sample.
The researchers were fortunate as, while the DNA they were looking for was in all Joy Ibsen's offspring, it is only handed down through the female line and her only daughter has no children. The line was about to stop.
Tomb plans
But the University of Leicester's experts had other problems.
Dr Turi King, project geneticist, said there had been concern DNA in the bones would be too degraded: "The question was could we get a sample of DNA to work with, and I am extremely pleased to tell you that we could."
She added: "There is a DNA match between the maternal DNA of the descendants of the family of Richard III and the skeletal remains we found at the Greyfriars dig.
"In short, the DNA evidence points to these being the remains of Richard III."
In August 2012, an excavation began in a city council car park - the only open space remaining in the likely area - which quickly identified buildings connected to the church.
Laurence Olivier as Richard III in the Shakespeare play of the same nameRichard's villainous reputation owes much to the way he was characterised by Shakespeare
The bones were found in the first days of the dig and were eventually excavated under forensic conditions.
Details of the reburial ceremony have yet to be released, but Philippa Langley from the Richard III Society said plans for a tomb were well advanced.
She said of the discovery of Richard's skeleton: "I'm totally thrilled, I'm overwhelmed to be honest, it's been a long hard journey. I mean today as we stand it's been nearly four years.
"It's the culmination of a lot of hard work. I think, as someone said to me earlier, it's just the end of the beginning.
"We're going to completely reassess Richard III, we're going to completely look at all the sources again, and hopefully there's going to be a new beginning for Richard as well."
 

2013年2月2日 星期六

The prevalance of Jane Austen's most famous couple in literature

 

The pulsating Mr Darcy

The prevalance of Jane Austen's most famous couple in literature
THE bicentenary of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" on January 28th celebrates one of fiction's most popular romantic couples. In a light-hearted attempt to measure the relative appeal of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy over the years, we have compared the number of times each is mentioned in books or journals published in Britain. Elizabeth Bennet, as the Jane Austen Society points out, is seen as "the world's sweetheart". This might explain the steady frequency with which her name is mentioned. The brooding Mr Darcy, however, did not fare well during the time of women's suffrage or second-wave feminism. But in the 1990s he bounced back, thanks to a BBC television series featuring Colin Firth in a wet shirt and Helen Fielding's "Bridget Jones's Diary" (the film adaptation of which also starred Mr Firth). Numerous literary adaptations have followed. The novel itself has been re-imagined as a murder mystery and a zombie invasion, while Mr Darcy is now the solo star of countless spin-offs. For romantics, the lines could also represent heartbeats: Elizabeth's simmering desire and Mr Darcy's ardent love fighting with his better judgment. Luckily for them, Austen liked happy endings.

 

書業

經典名著裝幀向《暮光之城》看齊

Patricia Wall/The New York Times
斯普雷特出版公司為經典文學設計的新封面:《簡·愛》、《傲慢與偏見》、《理智與情感》、《呼嘯山莊》。

青少年仍然在閱讀經典文學名著。他們只是不希望這些名著看起來,嗯,太過經典。
這也是出版商的理論,他們正把《愛瑪》(Emma)、《簡愛》(Jane Eyre)等名着重新設計換上嶄新封面:富有挑逗性、具有現代氣質的封面 使用大膽的緋紅色和石灰綠色等深淺變幻的色調,其目的很明確,就是要吸引閱讀《暮光之城》(Twilight)、《飢餓遊戲》 (The Hunger Games)等這一類青春文學長大的一代。
重新設計的經典文學名著時尚潮流,代替了傳統(也可解讀為:古板、無趣)經典書籍封面幾十年不變的風格,封面上那些穿着鑲褶邊衣服的女人們,再讓人 熟悉不過了。現在新版本的封面則是另一番調調:羅密歐一臉胡茬兒,穿着緊身無袖背心出現在企鵝出版社最新版《羅密歐與朱麗葉》 (Romeo and Juliet)的封皮上。
這樣的封面設計意在開發人氣不斷飆升且不斷增長的青春文學出版市場。近十年來,出版公司不斷向青少年圖書市場投入更多精力及資源,每年出版更多讀物。書店也紛紛仿效,開闢並擴大以青少年讀者為對象的圖書專區。
作家斯蒂芬妮·梅爾(Stephenie Meyer)的《暮光之城》系列小說轟動一時,隨即超自然浪漫愛情小說開始大行其道。最近幾年,《飢餓遊戲》三部曲的成功促使幾十種反烏托邦類型小說出版。
重新包裝設計的經典文學作品封面顯然受到《暮光之城》系列的啟發。同樣,哈珀·柯林斯(Harper Collins)出版集團也發行了新版《呼嘯山莊》(Wuthering Heights),封面以單調的黑色為背景,放上一隻鮮紅玫瑰花的特寫,並賦上 一行題字:“貝拉和愛德華最愛的書”。批評者們嘲笑這樣的設計完全山寨《暮光之城》。(貝拉和愛德華是《暮光之城》系列的主人公——譯註。)
布拉姆·斯托克(Bram Stoker)的哥特式吸血鬼小說《德拉庫拉》(Dracula)由美國企鵝旗下海雀圖書(Puffin Books) 重新出版。小說封面中央飄浮着一個鬼氣森森的女人,銀灰色的頭髮在空中飛舞着。書名和作者名潦草地印在一大片血泊上,一道道紅色血水滴了下來。
“我們不想守株待兔,”海雀圖書董事長兼出版人愛琳·科瑞特(Eileen Kreit)說道:“我們時刻想着那些時髦的年輕讀者。我們希望能吸引更多青少年讀者,當他們把這些書拿在手裡時,會眼前一亮,重新認識這些老故事。”
這些年,青春版文學系列銷售強勁。柯林斯版本的《呼嘯山莊》自從2009年發行以來一共售出12.5萬冊,這個銷售數字斐然,使它一躍進入了暢銷書排行榜。
《傲慢與編見》(Pride and Prejudice)和《勸導》(Persuasion)這類書屬於公有領域圖書,可以由任何一家出版公司再版發行,書籍內容不能變,封面可以隨意設計。出版公司為了吸引青少年讀者,想盡辦法到處搜羅這種類型的公版圖書。
現在出版商正在努力,希望新版經典文學能在青少年讀者的書架上爭得一席之地。上周,曼哈頓一家巴諾(Barnes & Noble)書店 裡,在同一個展台上既能看到四部新版的簡·奧斯丁和勃朗特姐妹經典著作,也能看到更多的當代超自然愛情小說。(樓上成人區的書架上擺放着更多傳統版本圖 書。)
在紐約亨廷頓的Book Revue 書店裡,新版經典文學銷售極旺,這讓店主茱麗·克萊因(Julie Klein)感到很驚訝。
“說實話,我對這些經典文學的銷售真是沒底,”她說:“作為書商,我非常喜歡這些經典書籍,如果年輕人能買這些書來讀,那我更是高興。只要能吸引孩子們看這些書,我就很欣慰。”
三月份,斯特林出版公司(Sterling Publishing)旗下斯普雷特(Splinter)開始發行其“經典台詞”(Classic Lines)系列讀本。這套平裝經典文學系列使用法式勒口封面設計,封面上繪有精美水彩插圖,公司特別請來曼哈頓時裝插圖畫家莎拉·辛格 (Sara Singh)來做封面插圖。
辛格說,“我面臨的最大挑戰是如何吸引更多青少年閱讀這些經典文學”。談到她的設計時,她說:“我們希望讓封面看起來更時尚、更漂亮、顏色亮麗,配上手寫字體。”
此套從書的編輯阿萊·布蘭登(Alli Brydon)不希望在以青少年讀者為對象的封面中,使用太傳統的“維多利亞”或“古典”式設計。就如巴諾 公司出版的《簡·愛》,封面上,一個女人悲慟地望着遠方,她的皮膚調子微黃,幾乎和她身後牆壁的顏色一模一樣,黑色的大衣將她的頸部遮了起來。
“這種設計沒有表現簡的堅毅和勇敢,”負責“經典台詞”系列叢書的布蘭登說。這個系列推出的新版《簡·愛》,小說封面是用素描繪製的一位紫衣少女,主人公抬着下巴,看起來非常活潑。“很多舊式封面並沒有傳遞書中所要表達的女權主義思想。”
在傳統封面上,女主角看起來比實際年齡要大很多,而在新版封面更能準確反映女主角的真實年齡,如《傲慢與偏見》 (Pride and Prejudice)中的伊麗莎白·班納特(Elizabeth Bennet)就被描繪為一位與目標讀者同齡的少女,這樣對年輕讀者更有吸引力。
然而,還是有一些小讀者不喜歡新版經典名著。在舊金山港灣區擁有兩家直銷店的Book Passage書城裡,據店主伊萊恩·帕特西里(Elaine Petrocelli)介紹,重新設計的經典圖書銷售並不好。
“想閱讀《愛瑪》的孩子們會到成年區買書,”她說:“孩子們不想感覺自己被人操縱了。”
15歲的苔絲·賈格爾·威爾(Tess Jagger-Wells)住在加州聖拉非爾,現在讀高一,她說,《簡·愛》是她最喜歡的小說之一,她喜歡書中“迷人的”老時光——“幸福不是唾手可得,需要你耐心等待。”
對於《傲慢與偏見》這類經典文學,苔絲說她不喜歡現代版裝幀風格,她寧願選擇封面設計繁複、華麗的精裝版。
“在你的房間中擺上最具原始風貌的文學作品,並向你的朋友展示,這非常有趣,”苔絲說:“這是一種經典,人們希望珍視、希望它永存。新設計的封面使小說看起來只是一個庸俗的愛情故事。”
本文最初發表於2012628日。



Lessons From Jane Austen


In 1990, William Deresiewicz was on his way to gaining a Ph.D. in English literature at Columbia University. Describing that time in the opening pages of his sharp, endearingly self-effacing new book, “A Jane Austen Education,” Deresiewicz explains that he faced one crucial obstacle. He loathed not just Jane Austen but the entire gang of 19th-century British novelists: Hardy, Dickens, Eliot . . . the lot.
Illustration by Kelly Blair

A JANE AUSTEN EDUCATION

How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter
By William Deresiewicz
255 pp. The Penguin Press. $25.95.

WHY JANE AUSTEN?

By Rachel M. Brownstein
320 pp. Columbia University Press. $29.50.
At 26, Deresiewicz wasn’t experiencing the hatred born of surfeit that Mark Twain described when he told a friend, “Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shinbone.” What Deresiewicz (who has considerable fun at the expense of his pompous younger self) was going through was the rebel phase in which Dostoyevsky rules Planet Gloom, that stage during which the best available image of marriage is a prison gate.
Sardonic students do not, as Deresiewicz points out, make suitable shrine-­tenders for a female novelist whose books, while short on wedding scenes, never skimp on proposals. Emma Bovary fulfilled all the young scholar’s expectations of literary culture at its finest; Emma Woodhouse left him cold. “Her life,” he lamented, “was impossibly narrow.” Her story, such as it was, “seemed to consist of nothing more than a lot of chitchat among a bunch of commonplace characters in a country village.” Hypochondriacal Mr. Woodhouse, garrulous Miss Bates — weren’t these just the sort of bores Deresiewicz had spent his college years struggling to avoid? Maybe, he describes himself conceding, the sole redeeming feature of smug Miss Woodhouse was that she seemed to share his distaste for the dull society of Highbury.
The state of outraged hostility is, of course, a setup. Many of Deresiewicz’s readers will already know him as the author of the widely admired “Jane Austen and the Romantic Poets.” One of the novelist’s most appreciative critics isn’t about to knock Austen off her plinth. Nevertheless, a profound truth lies embedded in Deresiewicz’s witty account of his early animosity. He applies that comic narrative device to her six completed novels. Considered so, each work reveals itself as a teaching tool in the painful journey toward becoming not only adult but (one of Austen’s key terms of praise for characters she wishes us to respect) useful.
The truth is that young readers don’t easily attach themselves to Austen. Mr. Darcy, “haughty as a Siamese cat” (in Deresiewicz’s delicious phrase), isn’t half as appealing on the page as Colin Firth stalking across the screen in Andrew Davies’s liberty-taking film. Seventeen-year-old Catherine Morland seems coltish and naïve to readers of her own age today, while Emma Woodhouse, all of 20, appears loud, vain and bossy. And who, at 27 or thereabouts, now feels sympathy for the meekness of Anne Elliot, a young woman who has allowed a monstrous father and a persuasive family friend to ruin her chances of happiness with the engaging Captain Wentworth?
Deresiewicz’s emphasis on Austen’s lack of appeal to young readers (of whom she was, in life, so fond) struck a chord. The memory still lingers of being taken to lunch by my father to meet a cultured man who might, it must have been hoped, exert a civilizing influence on a willful 20-year-old. We’d barely started on the appetizers before Jane Austen’s name came up. “I hate her,” I announced, brandishing my scorn as a badge of pride. Invited to offer reasons, I prattled on, much like Deresiewicz’s younger self, about her dreary characters: all so banal, so unimportant. Glancing up for admiration, I caught an odd expression on our guest’s face, something between amusement and disgust. I carried right on. It was another five years before I comprehended the shameless depths of my arrogance. I had matched Emma — at her worst.
It happens that Emma at her worst is the turning point in Deresiewicz’s account of his own conversion. The fictional scene that taught him to understand the subtlety of Austen’s manipulation of the reader was the picnic at which Emma, cocksure as ever, orders gentle Miss Bates to restrict her utterance of platitudes during the meal. (“Pardon me — but you will be limited as to number — only three at once.”) Miss Bates blushes painfully, and yet accepts the truth of Emma’s critique. The reader has no option but to admire, however grudgingly, such quiet humility.
Although he’s a shrewd critic of Austen’s work, Deresiewicz is less at ease when entering the genre of memoir. Girlfriends come and go; a controlling father is described without ever being quite brought to life; personal experiences of community in a Jewish youth movement are awkwardly yoked to the kindly naval group evoked by Austen in the Harville-Benwick household of “Persuasion.” Very occasionally, as in a startling passage that offers a real-life analogy to the socially ambitious Crawfords of “Mansfield Park,” a sentence leaps free of Deresiewicz’s selective recollections. “You guys are lunch meat now,” a friend’s rich wife advises both him and her husband. “Wait a few years — you’ll be sirloin steak.” Here, slicing up through the text like a knife blade, surfaces a statement to match Austen’s own scalpel-wielding.
Teaching became Deresiewicz’s chosen vocation. And Austen, he claims, taught him the difficult art of lecturing without being didactic, in just the way that Henry Tilney instructs a wide-eyed Catherine Morland — and that Austen herself lays down the law to her readers. (She is, beneath the glitter and wit, a stern moralist.)
Rachel M. Brownstein’s “Why Jane Austen?” offers a different approach. Excellent in her overview of Austen’s ascent of the Olympian literary slope, Brownstein speaks down to her readers from an equally dizzy height. Pity the “smart, eloquent and clubbable” former pupil Brownstein names and thanks for having, at the end of the term, “helpfully clarified things by telling me what I had been saying.” Ouch. Students, Brownstein loftily declares, are best introduced to Austen’s novels by being informed, for example, that the title “Mr. Knightley of Donwell Abbey” conceals the code words “knightly” and “donewell.” No indication is given that this formidable tutor would embrace the collaborative observations from her pupils that Deresiewicz has learned to welcome and enjoy.
Brownstein remains, however, a superb critic, seen at her best when illuminating Austen’s mastery of significant detail — a quality, she reminds us, Walter Scott was quick to discern and praise. Exasperated though I was when Brownstein remarked that partaking of the daily feasts at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center (an unattainable paradise for most hard-working writers) presented her with a “moral” obligation, I’d gladly forgive worse for the pleasure of learning how artfully Austen sows our mistrust of her nastier characters. (Haughty Sir Walter Elliot’s attachment to his face lotions provides one of Brownstein’s keenly plucked examples.)
I have, however, one suggestion. Brownstein, almost as socially obsessed as her elegant scapegoat of choice, Lionel Trilling, dithers over exactly where to place Austen. Snobs, she declares, without much evidence, are among the novelist’s firmest fans. But Austen belonged neither to the aristocracy nor to the rising middle class. There’s no need for her to be pigeon-holed, but if a place must be granted, how about “vicarage class” — for the position from which a parson’s clever daughter could observe the mannered comedy of all walks of life?
Miranda Seymour is the author, most recently, of “Chaplin’s Girl: The Life and Loves of Virginia Cherrill,” and a memoir, “Thrumpton Hall.”

The prevalance of Jane Austen's most famous couple in literature

 

The pulsating Mr Darcy

The prevalance of Jane Austen's most famous couple in literature
THE bicentenary of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" on January 28th celebrates one of fiction's most popular romantic couples. In a light-hearted attempt to measure the relative appeal of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy over the years, we have compared the number of times each is mentioned in books or journals published in Britain. Elizabeth Bennet, as the Jane Austen Society points out, is seen as "the world's sweetheart". This might explain the steady frequency with which her name is mentioned. The brooding Mr Darcy, however, did not fare well during the time of women's suffrage or second-wave feminism. But in the 1990s he bounced back, thanks to a BBC television series featuring Colin Firth in a wet shirt and Helen Fielding's "Bridget Jones's Diary" (the film adaptation of which also starred Mr Firth). Numerous literary adaptations have followed. The novel itself has been re-imagined as a murder mystery and a zombie invasion, while Mr Darcy is now the solo star of countless spin-offs. For romantics, the lines could also represent heartbeats: Elizabeth's simmering desire and Mr Darcy's ardent love fighting with his better judgment. Luckily for them, Austen liked happy endings.

 

書業

經典名著裝幀向《暮光之城》看齊

Patricia Wall/The New York Times
斯普雷特出版公司為經典文學設計的新封面:《簡·愛》、《傲慢與偏見》、《理智與情感》、《呼嘯山莊》。

青少年仍然在閱讀經典文學名著。他們只是不希望這些名著看起來,嗯,太過經典。
這也是出版商的理論,他們正把《愛瑪》(Emma)、《簡愛》(Jane Eyre)等名着重新設計換上嶄新封面:富有挑逗性、具有現代氣質的封面 使用大膽的緋紅色和石灰綠色等深淺變幻的色調,其目的很明確,就是要吸引閱讀《暮光之城》(Twilight)、《飢餓遊戲》 (The Hunger Games)等這一類青春文學長大的一代。
重新設計的經典文學名著時尚潮流,代替了傳統(也可解讀為:古板、無趣)經典書籍封面幾十年不變的風格,封面上那些穿着鑲褶邊衣服的女人們,再讓人 熟悉不過了。現在新版本的封面則是另一番調調:羅密歐一臉胡茬兒,穿着緊身無袖背心出現在企鵝出版社最新版《羅密歐與朱麗葉》 (Romeo and Juliet)的封皮上。
這樣的封面設計意在開發人氣不斷飆升且不斷增長的青春文學出版市場。近十年來,出版公司不斷向青少年圖書市場投入更多精力及資源,每年出版更多讀物。書店也紛紛仿效,開闢並擴大以青少年讀者為對象的圖書專區。
作家斯蒂芬妮·梅爾(Stephenie Meyer)的《暮光之城》系列小說轟動一時,隨即超自然浪漫愛情小說開始大行其道。最近幾年,《飢餓遊戲》三部曲的成功促使幾十種反烏托邦類型小說出版。
重新包裝設計的經典文學作品封面顯然受到《暮光之城》系列的啟發。同樣,哈珀·柯林斯(Harper Collins)出版集團也發行了新版《呼嘯山莊》(Wuthering Heights),封面以單調的黑色為背景,放上一隻鮮紅玫瑰花的特寫,並賦上 一行題字:“貝拉和愛德華最愛的書”。批評者們嘲笑這樣的設計完全山寨《暮光之城》。(貝拉和愛德華是《暮光之城》系列的主人公——譯註。)
布拉姆·斯托克(Bram Stoker)的哥特式吸血鬼小說《德拉庫拉》(Dracula)由美國企鵝旗下海雀圖書(Puffin Books) 重新出版。小說封面中央飄浮着一個鬼氣森森的女人,銀灰色的頭髮在空中飛舞着。書名和作者名潦草地印在一大片血泊上,一道道紅色血水滴了下來。
“我們不想守株待兔,”海雀圖書董事長兼出版人愛琳·科瑞特(Eileen Kreit)說道:“我們時刻想着那些時髦的年輕讀者。我們希望能吸引更多青少年讀者,當他們把這些書拿在手裡時,會眼前一亮,重新認識這些老故事。”
這些年,青春版文學系列銷售強勁。柯林斯版本的《呼嘯山莊》自從2009年發行以來一共售出12.5萬冊,這個銷售數字斐然,使它一躍進入了暢銷書排行榜。
《傲慢與編見》(Pride and Prejudice)和《勸導》(Persuasion)這類書屬於公有領域圖書,可以由任何一家出版公司再版發行,書籍內容不能變,封面可以隨意設計。出版公司為了吸引青少年讀者,想盡辦法到處搜羅這種類型的公版圖書。
現在出版商正在努力,希望新版經典文學能在青少年讀者的書架上爭得一席之地。上周,曼哈頓一家巴諾(Barnes & Noble)書店 裡,在同一個展台上既能看到四部新版的簡·奧斯丁和勃朗特姐妹經典著作,也能看到更多的當代超自然愛情小說。(樓上成人區的書架上擺放着更多傳統版本圖 書。)
在紐約亨廷頓的Book Revue 書店裡,新版經典文學銷售極旺,這讓店主茱麗·克萊因(Julie Klein)感到很驚訝。
“說實話,我對這些經典文學的銷售真是沒底,”她說:“作為書商,我非常喜歡這些經典書籍,如果年輕人能買這些書來讀,那我更是高興。只要能吸引孩子們看這些書,我就很欣慰。”
三月份,斯特林出版公司(Sterling Publishing)旗下斯普雷特(Splinter)開始發行其“經典台詞”(Classic Lines)系列讀本。這套平裝經典文學系列使用法式勒口封面設計,封面上繪有精美水彩插圖,公司特別請來曼哈頓時裝插圖畫家莎拉·辛格 (Sara Singh)來做封面插圖。
辛格說,“我面臨的最大挑戰是如何吸引更多青少年閱讀這些經典文學”。談到她的設計時,她說:“我們希望讓封面看起來更時尚、更漂亮、顏色亮麗,配上手寫字體。”
此套從書的編輯阿萊·布蘭登(Alli Brydon)不希望在以青少年讀者為對象的封面中,使用太傳統的“維多利亞”或“古典”式設計。就如巴諾 公司出版的《簡·愛》,封面上,一個女人悲慟地望着遠方,她的皮膚調子微黃,幾乎和她身後牆壁的顏色一模一樣,黑色的大衣將她的頸部遮了起來。
“這種設計沒有表現簡的堅毅和勇敢,”負責“經典台詞”系列叢書的布蘭登說。這個系列推出的新版《簡·愛》,小說封面是用素描繪製的一位紫衣少女,主人公抬着下巴,看起來非常活潑。“很多舊式封面並沒有傳遞書中所要表達的女權主義思想。”
在傳統封面上,女主角看起來比實際年齡要大很多,而在新版封面更能準確反映女主角的真實年齡,如《傲慢與偏見》 (Pride and Prejudice)中的伊麗莎白·班納特(Elizabeth Bennet)就被描繪為一位與目標讀者同齡的少女,這樣對年輕讀者更有吸引力。
然而,還是有一些小讀者不喜歡新版經典名著。在舊金山港灣區擁有兩家直銷店的Book Passage書城裡,據店主伊萊恩·帕特西里(Elaine Petrocelli)介紹,重新設計的經典圖書銷售並不好。
“想閱讀《愛瑪》的孩子們會到成年區買書,”她說:“孩子們不想感覺自己被人操縱了。”
15歲的苔絲·賈格爾·威爾(Tess Jagger-Wells)住在加州聖拉非爾,現在讀高一,她說,《簡·愛》是她最喜歡的小說之一,她喜歡書中“迷人的”老時光——“幸福不是唾手可得,需要你耐心等待。”
對於《傲慢與偏見》這類經典文學,苔絲說她不喜歡現代版裝幀風格,她寧願選擇封面設計繁複、華麗的精裝版。
“在你的房間中擺上最具原始風貌的文學作品,並向你的朋友展示,這非常有趣,”苔絲說:“這是一種經典,人們希望珍視、希望它永存。新設計的封面使小說看起來只是一個庸俗的愛情故事。”
本文最初發表於2012628日。



Lessons From Jane Austen


In 1990, William Deresiewicz was on his way to gaining a Ph.D. in English literature at Columbia University. Describing that time in the opening pages of his sharp, endearingly self-effacing new book, “A Jane Austen Education,” Deresiewicz explains that he faced one crucial obstacle. He loathed not just Jane Austen but the entire gang of 19th-century British novelists: Hardy, Dickens, Eliot . . . the lot.
Illustration by Kelly Blair

A JANE AUSTEN EDUCATION

How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter
By William Deresiewicz
255 pp. The Penguin Press. $25.95.

WHY JANE AUSTEN?

By Rachel M. Brownstein
320 pp. Columbia University Press. $29.50.
At 26, Deresiewicz wasn’t experiencing the hatred born of surfeit that Mark Twain described when he told a friend, “Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shinbone.” What Deresiewicz (who has considerable fun at the expense of his pompous younger self) was going through was the rebel phase in which Dostoyevsky rules Planet Gloom, that stage during which the best available image of marriage is a prison gate.
Sardonic students do not, as Deresiewicz points out, make suitable shrine-­tenders for a female novelist whose books, while short on wedding scenes, never skimp on proposals. Emma Bovary fulfilled all the young scholar’s expectations of literary culture at its finest; Emma Woodhouse left him cold. “Her life,” he lamented, “was impossibly narrow.” Her story, such as it was, “seemed to consist of nothing more than a lot of chitchat among a bunch of commonplace characters in a country village.” Hypochondriacal Mr. Woodhouse, garrulous Miss Bates — weren’t these just the sort of bores Deresiewicz had spent his college years struggling to avoid? Maybe, he describes himself conceding, the sole redeeming feature of smug Miss Woodhouse was that she seemed to share his distaste for the dull society of Highbury.
The state of outraged hostility is, of course, a setup. Many of Deresiewicz’s readers will already know him as the author of the widely admired “Jane Austen and the Romantic Poets.” One of the novelist’s most appreciative critics isn’t about to knock Austen off her plinth. Nevertheless, a profound truth lies embedded in Deresiewicz’s witty account of his early animosity. He applies that comic narrative device to her six completed novels. Considered so, each work reveals itself as a teaching tool in the painful journey toward becoming not only adult but (one of Austen’s key terms of praise for characters she wishes us to respect) useful.
The truth is that young readers don’t easily attach themselves to Austen. Mr. Darcy, “haughty as a Siamese cat” (in Deresiewicz’s delicious phrase), isn’t half as appealing on the page as Colin Firth stalking across the screen in Andrew Davies’s liberty-taking film. Seventeen-year-old Catherine Morland seems coltish and naïve to readers of her own age today, while Emma Woodhouse, all of 20, appears loud, vain and bossy. And who, at 27 or thereabouts, now feels sympathy for the meekness of Anne Elliot, a young woman who has allowed a monstrous father and a persuasive family friend to ruin her chances of happiness with the engaging Captain Wentworth?
Deresiewicz’s emphasis on Austen’s lack of appeal to young readers (of whom she was, in life, so fond) struck a chord. The memory still lingers of being taken to lunch by my father to meet a cultured man who might, it must have been hoped, exert a civilizing influence on a willful 20-year-old. We’d barely started on the appetizers before Jane Austen’s name came up. “I hate her,” I announced, brandishing my scorn as a badge of pride. Invited to offer reasons, I prattled on, much like Deresiewicz’s younger self, about her dreary characters: all so banal, so unimportant. Glancing up for admiration, I caught an odd expression on our guest’s face, something between amusement and disgust. I carried right on. It was another five years before I comprehended the shameless depths of my arrogance. I had matched Emma — at her worst.
It happens that Emma at her worst is the turning point in Deresiewicz’s account of his own conversion. The fictional scene that taught him to understand the subtlety of Austen’s manipulation of the reader was the picnic at which Emma, cocksure as ever, orders gentle Miss Bates to restrict her utterance of platitudes during the meal. (“Pardon me — but you will be limited as to number — only three at once.”) Miss Bates blushes painfully, and yet accepts the truth of Emma’s critique. The reader has no option but to admire, however grudgingly, such quiet humility.
Although he’s a shrewd critic of Austen’s work, Deresiewicz is less at ease when entering the genre of memoir. Girlfriends come and go; a controlling father is described without ever being quite brought to life; personal experiences of community in a Jewish youth movement are awkwardly yoked to the kindly naval group evoked by Austen in the Harville-Benwick household of “Persuasion.” Very occasionally, as in a startling passage that offers a real-life analogy to the socially ambitious Crawfords of “Mansfield Park,” a sentence leaps free of Deresiewicz’s selective recollections. “You guys are lunch meat now,” a friend’s rich wife advises both him and her husband. “Wait a few years — you’ll be sirloin steak.” Here, slicing up through the text like a knife blade, surfaces a statement to match Austen’s own scalpel-wielding.
Teaching became Deresiewicz’s chosen vocation. And Austen, he claims, taught him the difficult art of lecturing without being didactic, in just the way that Henry Tilney instructs a wide-eyed Catherine Morland — and that Austen herself lays down the law to her readers. (She is, beneath the glitter and wit, a stern moralist.)
Rachel M. Brownstein’s “Why Jane Austen?” offers a different approach. Excellent in her overview of Austen’s ascent of the Olympian literary slope, Brownstein speaks down to her readers from an equally dizzy height. Pity the “smart, eloquent and clubbable” former pupil Brownstein names and thanks for having, at the end of the term, “helpfully clarified things by telling me what I had been saying.” Ouch. Students, Brownstein loftily declares, are best introduced to Austen’s novels by being informed, for example, that the title “Mr. Knightley of Donwell Abbey” conceals the code words “knightly” and “donewell.” No indication is given that this formidable tutor would embrace the collaborative observations from her pupils that Deresiewicz has learned to welcome and enjoy.
Brownstein remains, however, a superb critic, seen at her best when illuminating Austen’s mastery of significant detail — a quality, she reminds us, Walter Scott was quick to discern and praise. Exasperated though I was when Brownstein remarked that partaking of the daily feasts at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center (an unattainable paradise for most hard-working writers) presented her with a “moral” obligation, I’d gladly forgive worse for the pleasure of learning how artfully Austen sows our mistrust of her nastier characters. (Haughty Sir Walter Elliot’s attachment to his face lotions provides one of Brownstein’s keenly plucked examples.)
I have, however, one suggestion. Brownstein, almost as socially obsessed as her elegant scapegoat of choice, Lionel Trilling, dithers over exactly where to place Austen. Snobs, she declares, without much evidence, are among the novelist’s firmest fans. But Austen belonged neither to the aristocracy nor to the rising middle class. There’s no need for her to be pigeon-holed, but if a place must be granted, how about “vicarage class” — for the position from which a parson’s clever daughter could observe the mannered comedy of all walks of life?
Miranda Seymour is the author, most recently, of “Chaplin’s Girl: The Life and Loves of Virginia Cherrill,” and a memoir, “Thrumpton Hall.”