Friday, December 22, 2006

At Long Last Love

I have fallen most hopelessly and irrevocably in love.

I am ashamed and embarrassed to say that I have not read any Jane Austen in my life. Ashamed because I have been an avid reader since I was a small boy. Mosher family lore tells that my mother received a phone call from my Fifth Grade teacher, concerned because I was reading James Michener's Hawaii. A similar call with graver concerns came from the headmaster of St Columban's when I was discovered, in the 7th Grade, to be reading the racy THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT. Both times, my mother derided the educators for dispairing over a student who reads...

I have prided myself for being well read; and I have disparaged myself for not making more time to read. I have loved the works of literary greats like Wilde, Fitzgerald, Capote and Waugh and relished the works of more modern day authors like Sheldon, Conroy and (my recently declared favourite) Cunningham. Yet in all my time in the pages, I never read any Jane Austen. I even owned a set of Jane Austen novels from the beginning of the last century. They were beautiful and I would, from time to time, take one down and hold it and smell it and treasure the feel of it. I did not, though, read them; I started to read SENSE AND SENSIBILITY but found that the pages were attached. They had never been cut. Every two pages were still connected. Afraid of depreciating the value of the books, they stayed on display. I wanted to read them, badly, but figured I could pick up a paperback for two dollars. I loved those books. I also love my apartment and food and when I found myself flat-out broke, I sold them to a book dealer for a few hundred dollars. That few hundred dollars went far in my household.

Now, having seen and loved the film SENSE AND SENSIBILITY and (frankly) having seen and loved, even more, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, I am a devout fan of the storytelling of Miss Austen. I admit that my obsession starts with the extraordinary film version of the latter named film because I am in love with every single frame. I am in love with every single character (even the horrible ones, for they are so wonderfully horrible as to make the story even better). I am in love with the actors who create the characters. I am in love with the cinematography, the art direction, the score. It is, for me, a completely perfect movie. I am in love with Kiera Knightly, with Matthew Macfadyen, I am in love with Simon Woods, and I think Donald Sutherland will have to be placed on my list of my favourite actors. Do I need to even mention how much I love Jude? My friend, Dame Judi Dench, who does not like being called Dame Judi Dench, is always stunning in every movie, play, tv show or tv commercial she does and this film is no exception.

In short; I am in love.

I am in love with the language. Did I say that?

"I have the utmost respect for your nerves, my dear. They have been my constant companion these twenty years."

"I can't help thinking that at some point someone is going to produce a piglet and we'll all have to chase it. "

"From the first moment I met you, your arrogance and conceit, your selfish disdain for the feelings of others made me realize that you were the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry.

"You have bewitched me body and soul and I love, I love, I love you..." OOOHHHH!! Have mercy.

When Matthew Macfayden says that line I fall to pieces, every time. Notice his discomfort and vulnerability and the way he faulters, blinks, and lowers his head on the last declaration of love. And there are times when Kiera Knightly looks at him, at his statue, at a space where he was and no longer is and you can see it all, right there: love, sorrow, regret, anger, longing. Pat told me that Donald Sutherland has called her the great actress of her generation. Sigh. I love these people.

I love Jane Austen. Yes. Jane Austen. You see, I have started reading the book PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. I stand on the subway, looking all ghetto in my hoodie and shorts and work boots, on my way to the gym, reading PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and laughing...LAUGHING. And I notice people watching me--usually older women who smile at the fact that a young person, and a man, is reading this incomparable work of literature. I am so grateful for the fact of this book and for the works of Miss Austen which I will read, presently. For, you see, as much as I love every frame, every actor, every character and the book I am reading. I must love Miss Jane Austen more; because she gave me the greatest love to come out of this whole adventure.

Miss Elizabeth Bennett.

How can any actress NOT be champing at the bit to play her? I actually own the box set of the series done with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth but have never had a chance (read: the time) to watch it. I will do it, now. And I will seek out the version with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, too. I am sure there are others but I will focus on these three versions, returning (I am sure) repeatedly for the one for which I first experienced such love.

My friend, Liz, is a big fan of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, too. She has mentioned it to me several times, not to my surprise because she has impeccable taste. I believe this about her. I wonder if this means I have taste, too. Well. I don't really care if I have taste. All I know is Jane Austen has gotten me.

And, it would appear, I get her.

please note that I did not do the photo seen above


Blogger jungle dream pagoda said...

You should not deride yourself,I think Ms. Austen is daunting to read. Fitzgerald is so excessible in part ,because it only takes perhaps a wee bit more than 30 minutes to read most of his books.I just began Mr Maguires,Confessions of an ugly step sister.

12:33 PM  

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