Monday, May 12, 2014

Adaptation Week: Mansfield Park

The winner of the Wait and Hope 1000 Giveaway is my good friend and fellow blogger: Cami!  Congrats, Cami, and thanks for everyone who entered.

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Anyone who chats to me long enough is bound to discover I love adaptations.  I simply love classic stories retold well.  Adaptations serve to introduce some to a story for the first time, others get to relive it and rethink their prior assumptions.  What's more, they often prompt great discussion about characters, plot points, and the way in which we understand a narrative. Being that I love adaptation so much, I thought I'd take this week on my blog to hi-light a different adaptation that is new or currently going on.  So, welcome to Adaptation Week!


To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, the BBC is re-airing a radio drama they recorded initially in 2003.  That's right, before Tennant flew the TARDIS, before Felicity Jones played Northanger Abbey's gullible heroine, and far before Cumberbatch sleuthed in a long overcoat - they all were in a production of Austen's third novel.  Mansfield Park is interesting in that it is the author's most controversial novel as it can be read as exceedingly moralistic or covertly subvertive.  Due to the fact that she sits in the canon between Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse, Fanny Price seems a frail and prudish heroine by comparison - but, this of course depends on how she and the novel is interpreted.

The BBC will be airing 10, 15-minute episodes beginning today, May 12.  You can listen to these episodes within a week of their airing via iPlayer Radio.  The stellar cast includes:

Fanny Price: Felicity Jones  
Sir Thomas Bertram: Tim Pigott-Smith
Lady Bertram: Liza Sadovy 
Tom Bertram: David Tennant  
Edmund Bertram: Benedict Cumberbatch  
Maria Bertram: Kate Fleetwood  
Mrs. Norris: Julia McKenzie  
Mr. Rushworth: Toby Jones  
Henry Crawford: James Callis  
Mary Crawford: Susan Lynch  
Narrator: Amanda Root


  1. I'm really sorry if this double posts. I'm typing this on my phone and that sometimes happens when I do that!

    I love adaptations too :) Literature is my one true love but whenever I come across a great adaptation of a story it's a joy.

    I listened to the first episode of this radio drama this afternoon. It was very promising and I really hope that we're actually going to get an accurate adaptation for once. I'm really not a fan of the 1999 & 2007 versions of the story. It annoys me that they changed Fanny's character, probably to make her more palatable to a modern audience. I like Fanny the way Austen wrote her!

    Out of curiosity, what are your favourite Austen adaptations? Mine are:

    Pride and Prejudice: Lizzie Bennet Diaries, the 2005 film and the 1980 miniseries. I feel like the only person in the world who isn't fond of the 1995 version all that much!

    Sense and Sensibility: the 1995 film although I really like the 2008 miniseries too.

    Emma: the 2009 version but I also love the Paltrow/Northam film. If Emma Approved maintains its quality that will probably end up being a favourite too!

    Persuasion: the 1995 film.

    Northanger Abbey: the 2007 film.

    Mansfield Park: nothing so far...

    1. Hi!

      Yes, I agree about adaptations of Mansfield Park – they never seem to get Fanny quite right. While I have mixed feelings about Fanny as a character, I think she should be adapted as Austen wrote her.

      As for my favorite Austen adaptations, I’ll categorize them by Period and Transmuted Adaptations, ranking them in order.

      1. 2008 Sense and Sensibility – I think they just nailed it!
      2. 2005 Pride and Prejudice – even if it’s not the most accurate ever, it is a superbly stunning film all around. Plus, I think they did a good job catching the spirit of Austen, if nothing else.
      3. 2009 Emma – Jonny Lee Miller’s Knightley accomplished what neither the book nor 2 other adaptations could – it made me like _Emma_.
      4. 1995 Sense and Sensibility – another lovely adaptation, mostly due to Emma Thompson!
      5. 1995 Pride and Prejudice – sorry, I did like it. Colin. Firth ;)
      6. 2007 Northanger Abbey – Yay, Tilney!

      1. Lizzie Bennet Diaries – because duh. [I have to separate these out or LBD may just take the top spot over all, and I’m not ready to admit that to myself]
      2. Emma Approved – they’re doing a pretty fantastic job – especially since the hiatus this January.
      3. Clueless – a surprisingly good look at Emma. And I am heading up the campaign to sneak an “As if” into Emma Approved ;)

      As for Persuasion, I have a complicated relationship with the novel and its adaptations. It is sublimely written and Austen’s achievement in style here is unparalleled. That being said, this novel makes me SO angsty. I can’t even describe it, but some of my friends have experienced how weepy and crazy I get over that book and the 2007 adaptation. I just can’t handle it.

      But yes, I just adore Austen and her endless adaptations :)

  2. Yes, most of Jane Austen's novels have been adapted very well :) There are some adaptations that I dislike and some I outright hate (Mansfield Park 1999 & Persuasion 2007... sorry!) but there have been far more good adaptations than bad.

    1. She does provide some timeless source material :)

  3. An adaptations week?! Oh, YAY!
    And just to chime in too, I love the 2008 Sense and Sensibility!
    And speaking of other adaptations, I really hope that someday someone will redo The Count of Monte Cristo and The Woman in White.

    1. Cami - Heck to the yes and amen on The Count of Monte Cristo. Ugh!