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Knightley, Darcy, Wentworth, Brandon

I think I can safely say that I hate this winter.

I think I can also safely say that plenty of people reading this will be on board with that statement, since I do not live in a one-person-sized weather vacuum.

When I contemplate the last several weeks or try to look ahead to the weeks to come, I find my mind is permeated by an overwhelming sense of ickyness. I tend to imagine periods of my life in terms of colors (for example, I may look back on a happy summer and it will feel green to me) and the color of right now is gray. And not like a lovely, trendy shade of gray that would look great on your living room walls- I refer to the ugly gray of murky runoff and misery – you know the shade and if don’t, you can probably just look to the skies this very moment (if you live in the Northeast anyway).

Yes, I am feeling crushed by the force of winter-induced ennui these days, worse than usual because this winter is worse than usual, and I have no idea how to cure myself.

I am thinking I may try Jane Austen.

See, I am currently in a down-slump of entertainment. In the fall I was happily swept up in several seasons of Doctor Who and then right after Christmas-time I threw myself hard into Middle Earth.

Now I find myself bereft of an obsession, timed to exactly coincide with the crappiest season of weather I have ever experienced.

I need to latch onto something to obsess over, and I need to do it soon; it has to be something really good so it can take me over completely and it has to be something really vast so it can last me several weeks until this dreadful season is finished. It must occupy my brain and my time until I can see grass on the ground again, because if I waste yet another snow day watching Youtube montages of my favorite TV and movie couples kissing I will officially become the most pathetic human being alive.

(Am I already? This is a concern of mine.)

Basically – I need an entertainment project.

And like I said: I am assigning myself Jane Austen in the hopes that she will be my cure.

This is, naturally, a bit of a review for me.

I have read all of Jane Austen’s novels before and I have seen virtually all of the TV and movie versions of her works. There are plenty, I assure you – just check out this link that was on the front page of IMDB today all about the popularity of Jane Austen in cinema. I actually took that link as a sign that I am doing the right thing for myself – I decided last night to reread some Austen and rewatch the movies and miniseries and today, there is an blog post about it! Must mean something very profound, the timing of this, right?

Sometimes I find myself desperate to find profound connections and omens everywhere when I am moderately depressed.

But why am I picking Jane Austen (apart from the possibly mystical meaning of the random IMDB link) to cure my ennui if I am already intimately familiar with her works and the adaptations thereof?

Well, I borrowed the newest adaptation of Emma from my local library when I saw it on the shelf and realized I had yet to watch it. This version starred Romola Garai as Emma and Johnny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley and it was truly superb, I thought. I have long since been a fan of the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma and don’t even get me started on how unbelievably brilliant an adaptation Clueless is – but I felt that this particular version did such a great job capturing the nature of the characters and was just, overall, truest to the book.

Of course, then I tried to think of how it was truest to the book and realized that I do not even remember the book at all. I only read Emma once when I was in high school, and did not even bother to reread it for the college class entirely devoted to Austen that I took in my sophomore year. I can basically recite Paltrow-Emma and Clueless line for line, and that gave me a confidence in my Emma knowledge that I am thinking now is false.

So I should probably reread Emma, I thought.

But Emma is, by far, the least interesting Austen book.

Don’t get me wrong- it makes a pretty excellent film (I mean, Johnny Lee Miller as a romantic lead cannot go wrong, which is how we can also excuse the terrible Mansfield Park adaptation that butchered the novel but cast Johnny Lee Miller as Edmund thus managing to save itself…speaking of which – the same actor who played Johnny Lee Miller’s character Edmund in the newer version of Mansfield Park played Mr. Elton in the Johnny Lee Miller-version of Emma…is that not confusing and brilliant? I truly love British film and television).

As a novel, however, Emma lacks a certain quality of…entertainment…that one hopes for when reading for pleasure.

So if I am indeed going to reread Emma, I probably ought to also reread the other ones that I actually like more, right? I mean, I’ll go from Emma to Northanger Abbey (also fairly uninteresting, but at least short and easy to get through) to Mansfield Park (I will defend Fanny Price till the day I die because I love her even though everyone says she’s lame) to Sense and Sensibility to Pride and Prejudice to Persuasion (by far the most romantic of the bunch and I think highly underrated).

It will be brilliant.

Along the way, I’ll be watching as many different awesome versions of the books as I can get my hands on and pretending like I live in a nineteenth century English village, instead of the miserable dirty-snow-covered place I actually inhabit.

I will also be undertaking this project with the specific aim of deciding just which of the dashing and handsome heroes of Austen is my ultimate favorite. I intend to pick a favorite from the books…AND a favorite from the film adaptations (wild, right?).

Probably all the ladies (who are Austen fans…we mustn’t assume) out there right now are like, from the books: Darcy and from the movies: Colin Firth as Darcy.

But I think maybe from the books I have to go with Persuasion’s Captain Wentworth and from the movies…oh…Johnny Lee Miller’s Knightley? Jeremy Northam’s Knightley? Alan Rickman’s Colonel Brandon? But maybe Colin Firth’s Darcy? Matthew MacFadyen’s Darcy?

I just DON’T KNOW!

Honestly, I have yet to truly refine my thoughts on the subject and I am really going to apply myself to this truly worthwhile(less?) task.

It’s a crazy-exciting time here in my life.

Obviously, the true motivation behind this Jane Austen project is simple:

Sometimes I desperately clutch at a project, or TV show or book series that comes my way for no reason other than that I am moderately depressed.

This is where I am at, and while part of me thinks that Jane Austen deserves better than to be the unknowing balm on my cold-weather-chapped soul, the bigger part of me thinks that if I do not get into this undertaking with fully 100% commitment, I am destined for nothing but moping and heinous Youtube videos until the April thaw.

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