- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2005

‘Austenmania’

“Today no one can doubt Jane Austen’s popularity. Between 1995 and 1999 seven film and television productions have brought five of Austen’s six novels to millions of people around the world. And updates of her novels, most notably Helen Fielding’s ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ and ‘Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,’ have been international bestsellers (and, subsequently, films). …

“The BBC/A&E production of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ attracted at least 10 million viewers when it was first serialized on British television in 1995 (and before it was broadcast in more than 40 other countries). Within a year of its opening, Ang Lee’s film of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ had grossed more than $125-million worldwide. …

“Austenmania shows no signs of petering out. A Tamil-language adaptation of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ … was released in 2000. A Mormon version of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ — the heroine a student at Brigham Young University — appeared in movie theaters in 2004; ‘Bride & Prejudice,’ a Bollywood production of the same novel, opened in the United States in February; and Keira Knightley … has assumed the role of Elizabeth Bennet in a film currently in production. … Karen Joy Fowler’s ‘The Jane Austen Book Club’ … was on the New York Times bestseller list for 13 weeks last summer and has been optioned by Sony Pictures.”

Deborah Kaplan, writing on “The Pride of Austen Critics: a Prejudice?” in the March 11 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education

‘Blame whiteness’

” ‘Whiteness studies,’ which began as a small fringe of the academic world only eight years ago, has since blossomed into the latest academic fad. … [The field] has its own think tank [the Center for the Study of White American Culture], its own journal … periodic national conferences and a veritable library of books and tracts.

“The essence of the discipline can be summed up in two words: Hating Whitey. …

” ‘There is plenty to blame whiteness for,’ says CSWAC co-founder and executive director Jeff Hitchcock. ‘There is no crime that whiteness has not committed against people of color. … We must blame whiteness for the continuing patterns today that deny the rights of those outside whiteness and which damage and pervert the humanity of those of us within it.’ ”

Chris Weinkopf, writing on “Whiteness Studies,” in the February issue of Whistleblower

Rococo gonzo

“[Hunter S.] Thompson fused the stylistic predilections of H.L. Mencken and Henry Miller into an oft-misunderstood genre, gonzo journalism, that was so rococo and extreme that it could not be replicated by others or even done with consistency by Thompson himself. He regarded the gonzo style as liberation from having to write ‘like the New York Times.’ …

“The deeper into the gonzo mindset Thompson got, the less consistent his output. … There were more misses than hits in Thompson’s erratic and exasperating career, especially in the late innings. … Hunter Thompson began his career as a deadline journalist; he ended it as a stylistic progenitor with the bad luck to leave no heir to his invention.”

Anthony Gancarski, writing on “Songs of the Doomed,” in the March 28 issue of the American Conservative

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