Eric and Charlus, two of my blog friends, forwarded items of interest about David Lassman, director of the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, who had submitted several chapters from three of Jane Austen's novels to a score of publishing houses. They were summarily rejected. In fact, only one editor among the lot spotted the hoax and recognized that the submission had been lifted from Pride and Prejudice. This is more an indictment of how layered the submission process has become, since most query letters and submissions from authors don't make it past support staff unless the writer has signed up with a well regarded agent or has been invited to submit a proposal.
Interestingly, although the news is only a few days old, this story has already made it into the Museum of Hoaxes website. As always, I found the post on Austen Blog to be the most comprehensive and illuminating. The Daily Mail article is interesting as well, mostly because it includes a photo of Mr. Lassman. My take on this brouhaha is simple: Would Jane Austen's 19th century prose attract today's editors? I think not. Let's face it, literary tastes have changed and Jane's language is too old-fashioned for today's market. The test was unfair and not well thought out, but it does point out how difficult it is to attract an editor's notice. However, the query letter would not have attracted my interest had I been its recipient. There was something too immature and girlish about its tone.
A Jane Austen Play
Changing the subject, Karen Eterovich, who has written a play about Jane on the eve of the publication of Emma titled Cheer from Chawton: a Jane Austen Family Theatrical, is gearing up to show her production around the U.S. as well as in England. Her first stop will be on September 29-30 in Columbia, S.C. Click here to find the rest of the schedule of productions on her website.
Two Pride and Prejudice Musicals
Several weeks ago I place a link on my sidebar to a P&P musical written by Dorothy Lees-Blakey, a professional actress and composer. Click here to listen to 30 seconds samples of her songs. The recording quality is tinny at best, but the songs are fun. Or go to Austen Blog, which links to a site that features songs from another Pride and Prejudice musical written by Rita Abrams and Josie Brown. You can listen to a full song for one week on this site before a new song is posted. The production and quality of these songs is better, but as far as I'm concerned I am glad both musicals exist as I can never get enough P&P!
Vote for Jane Austen
The Book Mine Set is still running a Wednesday Compare, this time pitting Jane Austen against Dr. Seuss. If Jane wins five times in a row, she will be 'retired' as undefeated.This is a close race, so place your vote before Tuesday if you are a Jane fan. When you click on the website you will need to scroll down to the Wednesday July 18th post. Update: Our Jane ceded to Dr. Seuss by the slimmest of margins 21-20.