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Jane Austen and the Theatre Paperback – 30 Jun 2007
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"A rare combination of erudition and originality, Jane Austen and the Theatre opens many new doors onto the novelist and her work." --Claudia Johnson ..."elegant and fascinating." --Miranda Seymour, "Spectator"
Jane Austen enjoyed and was greatly interested in the theatre. Many of her novels, with the memorable individual characters, dramatic confrontations and surprising denouements, owe part of their effect to theatrical inspiration. The dramatic impact of her novels is demonstrated by the ease with which they have been adapted for television and film. In "Jane Austen and the Theatre", Paula Byrne makes clear the important part of the theatre played in both Jane Austen's life and work. There is no doubt about Jane Austen's own passion for the stage. She went to the theatre in London and Bath whenever she could, acted in private theatricals, and wrote a number of her early works in play form. Living in a great age of English stage comedy, she drew inspiration from Sheridan as well as Shakespeare. "Sense and Sensibility", "Pride and Prejudice", "Emma and Mansfield Park" are, as Paula Byrne shows, all shaped by the comic drama of the period and by Jane Austen's own understanding of men and women as actors playing parts.See all Product description
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There are then chapters on each of the novels shining a spotlight on links with contemporary plays. In particular there is a separate chapter on Lovers' Vows - the play that is put on by the residents of Mansfield Park. Byrne's book makes you realise that you have to read Lovers' Vows to understand all the nuances of what is happening in Mansfield Park. Byrne shows how the play may well have suggested to Austen some of the main themes of the novel. Lovers' Vows was such a popular and well known play in the early 1800s that Austen would have been able to rely on her readers recognising her allusions and the way she uses the characters ans scenes in the play to explore and develop the characters in Mansfiels Park.
So - read Lovers' Vows ( it is in the Gutenberg project ) - then read Byrne's book - and then read Mansfield Park again. You will get a real understanding of what Jane Austen is doing.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The first part of the book covers Jane Austen's life and her interest in the theater. This part of the book also educates the casual reader about dramatic technics such as dramatic presentation and dramatic dialogue.
The second part of the book shows how Jane used her knowledge and experience of the theater in her novels. In this part of the book she shows how Jane used theatrical motifs, especially comedic satir. Finally, I think Paula Byrne has given us some insight into where Jane got some of her ideas for her characters and stories.