Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Words From the Creator of Clueless on Jane Austen's Emma

"On any given evening, the music/alcohol/flirting places where young people congregate, you will find them. Some are attractive, most merely dress as if they were, and at the slightest provocation (e.g., a touchdown on the TV, a Beyonce song on the sound system) they will throw their arms up and shout. These are the girls who say "Whoo!" Sometimes "Whoo!" is replaced with "All right!" or "I love this song!" They may even entreat everyone to "Party!"

These females will dance, flick their hair back, or otherwise find ways to physicalize their joie de vivre, and hopefully get you to look at them. The whooping girls certainly have their antecedents. In the first half of the nineteenth century, they might have been giggling incessantly over the soliders in town, as Lydia and Kitty do in Pride and Predjudice. They might feel the need to "take a turn around the room," as Mr. Bingley's sister does, in an obvious ploy to show off her figure. Possibly jumping off a high staircase into someone's arms seems to them like a hilarious idea, as Louisa from Persuasion thought.

But there are the girls who can't say "Whoo," who can't be so verwhelmed by the latest song that they must draw everyone's attention to their bodies, and who can't laugh hysterically at something they don't find funny. It is here, among the non-whooping females, that one finds a large prtion of the Jane Austen fan base. She has made leading ladies of the sensible sisters. She created a world where dashing, if arrogant, men seem to fall madly in love with the women who have more brains than fancy ribbons (in the 1800s, they didn't have body glitter). This paradigm works so joyously well that one only wishes she had written dozens more in that vein."

-Amy Heckerling, 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen, edited by Susannah Carson

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