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Dec 23

What would Conan Doyle think?

Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2015 in Fandomlinks, Literature

I just read an article about literary spinoffs.

Maybe most of these won’t be to my taste. I’ve already read a few ‘modern’ continuations of classic novels and didn’t like them very much, unfortunately. Also, I’ve read reviews and articles about others and found that I probably wouldn’t care much for them either. But that’s just me. Some people might actually love these new versions of their old idols.

What interested me, as a fan fiction writer, was the following:

“Would Conan Doyle have objected to any of this? I like to think not. When the American actor William Gillette was seeking to insert a romantic interest into his stage play featuring Sherlock Holmes, he cabled Conan Doyle with the question May I marry him? – to which the author is reputed to have replied You may marry him, murder him, or do anything you like to him.

Writers ever since have been taking him at his word.”

The quote is from the article I mention above. Sounds like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wouldn’t object to anything we might make up about Sherlock Holmes or for that matter, anything authorised writers and tv producers might make of him. That’s good to know.

Feb 11


Posted on Friday, February 11, 2011 in Classics, Historic, Reviews, TV series

I’ve always liked historic series/movies/books and whenever there’s something like that on tv, I want to watch it. Cranford was no exception. The series was on a few years ago, and after it ended I read that there would be a ‘Christmas special’. I was hoping we’d get to see that too, but the Christmas of 2009 came and went and there was nothing like that. Fortunately, I had more luck last Christmas (2010). At least I assume it was the ‘Christmas special’ we got to watch.

At first I thought the tv adaption was focusing a little too much on (unintentional?) humour. Despite that, I found it interesting though rather sad. Some of the characters were really likeable, others less so, but still interesting and/or funny and definitely real and believable. Undoubtedly this was partly due to the cast. I’d especially like to mention Judi Dench, Julia McKenzie and Imelda Staunton, but the others too, famous or not so famous, did a great job.

Cranford is a little town in mid-nineteenth century England. It struggles with the changes their country is going through, not convinced that all change is for the better. For instance, railways are considered a threat. In the end, though, the people of Cranford find that nothing can stand in the way of ‘progress’ and perhaps they were wrong to try. The town is populated by a number of memorable people. Especially the women are described in detail.

At the beginning of the series, two elderly sisters, Misses Deborah and Matty Jenkyns, invite a young woman, Mary Smith, daughter of a friend of theirs, to come and live with them. You get to see Cranford and its inhabitants through her eyes. I suspect she’s the author’s alter ego. (I understand that Cranford is based on a series of books by a woman named Elizabeth Gaskell. I haven’t read them, but I think I might like to.)

Looking back on the series, my strongest impression is that it’s mostly about women who have never married, are widowed or whose prospects of marriage are poor, either because of lack of money or connections. Another theme seems to be the position of women in nineteenth century Britain.

Oct 23

Pride and Prejudice

Posted on Thursday, October 23, 2008 in Classics, Historic, Movies, Reviews

I’ve already seen Pride and Prejudice, at least once in some version or other, but that doesn’t matter. I love Jane Austen’s books (most of them anyway), but now I’m talking about the movie. One version was a tv series, but like I mentioned before, in whatever form, I love them. I’m not sure about a comics version, but who knows? Some Japanese comics can be really good and so are the French/Belgian ones.

In any case, the actors (Donald Sutherland, Keira Knightley, Matthew MacFadyen) did a great job. The funny thing is, I’d already seen McFadyen in a tv series, and I didn’t like him there at all. In the movie, he was a lot better.

The plot can be summed up in a few words, even if there is much more underneath, so it’s not the basic plot that is so fantastic, it has to be the way it’s done. Jane Austen was brilliant in her deceptive simplicity.

You might want to consider how people lived in those days. For families in this social class (not nearly as wealthy as you might think) finding suitable husbands for their daughters was vital. At the same time, a woman’s life was sadly limited.

Jane Austen herself, who was a published writer, lived more or less on sufferance. When some domestic chore perceived as more important, was to be done, poor Jane had to pack up her writer’s stuff and move.

That reminds me of our own Selma Lagerlof. Once, right after she won the Nobel Prize in Literature, she was invited to some house in her home province. She assumed she was the guest of honor, because of winning that prize. When it was time to sit down at the table, she entered the room first. Her hostess was quick to reprimand her. “Wives first, Selma, dear.” Apparently, we hadn’t progressed any further in the hundred years or so that had had passed since Jane Austen’s time. Just a little food for thought.

One interesting detail about the movie is that there were two different endings shot. One for the America audience and the other for Europe.

In the American version there was something sentimental and the one we got to see here, in Europe, was quite fun. Watch the movie if you like historic chic lit. If not, don’t.


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