Let's Talk About Pride & Prejudice Fanfiction

The more fanficion I read the more questions I have.

Why are authors portraying the characters in a certain way? Why are they pairing them with others? What do readers really like? Is angst a sufficient justification to impose the most uncharacteristic behaviour on the characters? What are we looking for in Pride and Prejudice fanfiction?

This blog is created in a struggle for A Faithful Narrative.


Saturday, 6 December 2008

Names That Stick

Fan History Wiki - Pride and Prejudice gives the below examples of JAFF terminology:

  • Earl of Matlock = in canon, Darcy's uncle is an Earl, or "Lord ----", but a large number of fanfics have titled him the Earl of Matlock, which is a real town in Derbyshire
  • Mrs. Frances "Fanny" Gardiner Bennet = in canon, Mrs. Bennet has no first name, but a large number of fanfics have named her Frances, often shortened to Fanny.
Both come from the 1995 TV series, but today hardly anyone remembers that. Many people think that's what Austen wrote. Is it good or bad that fanfic is able to influence people's perception so much?

Saturday, 11 October 2008

My New Squidoo Lenses

I created new Squidoo lenses. They still need some work, but then lenses are an ever work in progress.

Pride and Prejudice and Other Austen's Novels: Movies & TV Guide
It does what it says, featuring all of the adaptations of Jane Austen's novels in one place.

A general lens about the book.

Which is a small lens about Mr. Darcy in the SquidWho directory. My first lens Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice is still much better.

Find more about my lenses in my previous post.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Alternate Pairings...

...or why women hate Lizzy?

There's a short poll on my squidoo lens: Elizabeth and Darcy Forever or Not?

As of today there are answers from 84 people:

1. I read only E&D together stories - 96,4%

2. I read everything - 3,6%

3. I like stories where Elizabeth or Darcy find happiness with other people - 0%

Zero percent!

Why then authors keep writing stories that nobody likes anyway? Even the very small percent that reads everything wasn't impressed.

Possible reasons:

1. Authors claim that they want to be original and see whether they can convince people to alternate pairings. Those authors must be very proud of their writing skills, since they want to best Austen. They usually call those who don't like their stories narrow-minded, and are convinced that the small number of kind comments they receive (mostly from their own friends who cannot avoid posting) are a proof that they wrote a masterpiece for the chosen ones! Well, no, look at the results above. Even the chosen ones didn't like your stories. It's just that sites like DWG or AHA don't allow any constructive critique.

I read a few of those stories and I'm sorry to say - Crap!

2. Authors love comments and a lot of rumour around themselves, so they mess with the pairings for the angst factor and wide readers' response. In such stories Darcy often ends up with Lizzy at some point, but, unfortunately, after we'd lost any respect for him. Do you really want me to believe that Darcy let some wench drag him to an altar like a slaughter-lamb? Or that he's such a loser, that he prefers to marry his ruined cousin rather than the woman he loves? Without any consideration for Lizzy's feelings? Come on!

Naturally in such stories Darcy forgets that he ever courted Lizzy and now it's time to propose. Wentworth would know better.

3. The authors don't like one of the characters. There is a pretty large group of women who don't like Lizzy. Then they replace her with another character that is very similar to themselves (meak, shy, stiff, snobbish - choose one), and let them get the Great Hunk Darcy.

Those who don't like her but still want to remain faithful to Austen let the other die, and sooner or later (preferably later) there is a D&E ending (only after Lizzy was sufficiently punished and humiliated, and paid such a high price for the sin of being Elizabeth Bennet that she may deserve him, eventually). In the ideal situation Darcy is left with his beloved child from the first marriage, because of course Darcy must love the child he made the first woman better than any children Lizzy would give him, and better than Elizabeth herself. Their marriage is said to be great and all proper, but all of the readers have a feeling that something is lacking. There's no such a passion, or no passion at all. Darcy is good, kind and seemingly in love, yet somewhat distant and concerned with everyone else much more than with Lizzy. Ah... Darcy is changed. Lizzy is not the same love of his that the book!Elizabeth.

Those who don't care about Austen's intentions have no scruples. They place themselves as the love of Darcy's life, who quickly forgets about Lizzy (Lizzy in those stories is some alien abducted persona who falls in love with someone else anyway), and let him love themselves with all his heart and the passion that only such a man as Darcy can bestow.

Did I mention that all of the above types hate giving spoilers and so coax their unsuspecting readers into becoming their victims?

Sunday, 1 June 2008

The forgotten rivals: Anne de Bourgh and Mr. Collins

Those two are really neglected throughout the fanon. The reason is, in my opinion, in our modern sensibilities rather than Austen’s intent. We simply can’t imagine that anyone could seriously think about marrying them (with the exception of Charlotte of course, but then she’s not one of us). However, looking from the perspective of the Regency times they were great catches.

For a penniless country girl like Lizzy it’d be a true elevation to take the place of her mother in her father’s house. Longbourn must be worth some £40,000-50,000. Not to mention that the threat of the Bennet women being thrown out after Mr. Bennet’s death was extremely valid. And it’s even expected of Darcy that he’d marry his cousin, keep their fortunes in their family, and promote the influence of the Pemberley House. Rosings’s worth is likely close to Darcy’s £200,000. In those times the marriages of aristocracy were still arranged, while Darcy defies his own mother’s wish by pursuing his own happiness instead of fulfilling his duty. For one Lizzy didn’t doubt that he’d marry his cousin just as everyone else expected him to do, and as far as we know Darcy didn’t do anything that would put an end to his aunt and cousin’s expectations. Anne is 28 and still waiting for his proposal.

We all remember the ridiculous Collins and the ugly and dumb Anne from the 1995 series, but the portrayals are quite far from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Austen’s Collins is more than just stupid. He’s also proud and resentful – two things Lizzy holds against Darcy. And, he’s very humble – something Darcy has yet to learn. Yet, Darcy’s pride and humbleness appear to be the reverse of Collins’s. Darcy has no improper pride and is humble towards Lizzy rather than towards the grander of his aunt. Did I mention that Collins is tall and young?

Anne is even more curious, because all we know about her comes either from Collins and Lady Catherine (both prejudiced in her favour), or from Lizzy who’s simply jealous. One objective information is that she’s really sick, but we can’t know how much of it is caused by her horrible mother. Otherwise she seems merely shy, just as Georgiana is. Both Anne and Georgiana’s guardians are rather intimidating. Lizzy finds Georgiana’s good humour and intelligence under the layer of shyness because she’s prejudiced in the girl’s favour. What then would she find in Anne if she could look at her without resentment? Anne is portrayed as small and considerably pretty (or not ugly), but then Lizzy isn’t tall either and her estimation of Anne’s looks is as clouded as Lydia’s of Miss King or Caroline’s of Lizzy are.

Anyway, for both Lizzy and Darcy marrying Collins and Anne respectively would be perfectly natural. More than for Lizzy marrying the amiable but penniless Wickham or the money oriented Colonel, or for Darcy the not so rich and poorly connected Caroline. Isn’t it possible then that, unlike we do today, the Regency readers would see the two as considerably serious rivals?

Friday, 18 April 2008

My Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice Lenses on Squidoo

The previous post was my not very successful attempt at posting via Digg It. Anyway, what I wanted to say is that I made a series of lenses on Squidoo.

This one is about My Favourite Pride and Prejudice Fanfiction.

This one is a collection of links to all of the Jane Austen fanfiction sites I've found so far
Jane Austen Fanfiction: The Ultimate Guide. I hope that others will be adding relevant links as well, so that it might become a full directory. There are over 60 links so far, and I truly believe that it's the largest collection in the net.

Everything Jane Austen is a group gathering together all of the Squidoo lenses related to our favourite authoress.

And Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice is a lens that I created because I could. Or rather I could not refuse myself the pleasure.

May the lenses serve you well!

Yours truly

My Favourite Pride and Prejudice Fanfiction

I've created a Squidoo lens with some of my favourite P&P fanfiction on the net.

read more | digg story

Monday, 14 April 2008

The Characters Whitewashed

One cannot but wonder why so many Jane Austen’s characters become whitewashed in fanfic. Is it careless reading of the book or wishful thinking? I don’t even mean a character such as Darcy who becomes shy instead of reserved and haughty among strangers, but the minor ones in the Pride and Prejudice fandom.

Mr. Bennet becomes the wisest and most responsible of fathers, sensitive to his daughter’s feelings. He was intelligent, but responsible and sensitive certainly not. His words could pain even Elizabeth, and even when they were directed towards her mother.

Lady Anne, Darcy’s mother, is even a more curious example. We know no actual good of her. All Darcy’s praises are directed towards his father, of whom we know that he wasn’t without faults either – after all he favoured Wickham over his own son. Of Lady Anne we know only that her dearest wish was for Darcy to marry Miss de Bourgh. It is likely then that she and Lady Catherine were quite alike.

Jane Austen lived in times when children longed for their independence from their parents. We see many rebels in her books, and those who don’t rebel come to regret it, with the most severest case of Eliza Williams who from a rich heiress becomes a prostitute. Why then should we assume that had Lady Anne lived she’d change her mind, and from wishing for his son to strengthen the position of his family by marrying within his family circle into a large property – almost as large as Pemberley – would come to love such an impertinent country girl as Lizzy?

Most likely Lady Catherine is a mother figure for Darcy against whom he must rebel. Supposedly it’d be too much for the Regency society to read of a son who rebels against his own mother in such a case. Yet those who shared Austen’s opinions might read within the lines and know that had it been his mother and not aunt he would do the same. Of course the situation would be more complicated, because his mother would have to leave Pemberley.

Another case is Georgiana and Darcy’s relationship with her. We can see from the book that he really cares, is responsible and ready to do for her anything, yet we can’t really find there any closeness. Georgiana seems to be rather intimidated by him than trustful. He is controlling and intimidating, and the age difference between them is crucial. Darcy wished to be a good brother and guardian rather than knew how to be one. After all she also tried to rebel against him when she agreed to elope with Wickham. Yet, they are often presented as very close.

Of course there is also the Colonel Fitzwilliam, who from a mercenary charmer, dallying with a penniless country girl whom he never planned to marry, becomes a dashing hero ready for every sacrifice. It should be also remembered that Austen didn’t mean for him to be particularly clever or handsome.

There are also characters that gain new negative traits. Bingley from not very clever turns to be outright stupid, Lady Catherine and Caroline become evil. Mr. Collins is no longer proud – it seems that pride is difficult to grasp just in his case as in Darcy’s.

It is understandable of course that fanfiction writers alter many events and characters to suit their plots, but the general changes in characterisation seem so permanent all over the Pride and Prejudice fandom that one wonders if Austen’s characters are too complex and subtle to be given justice.