Jane Austens career as a novelist began in 1811 with the publication of Sense and Sensibility. Her work was finally adapted for the big screen with the 1940 filming of Pride and Prejudice (very successful at the box office). No other film adaptation of an Austen novel was made for theatrical release until 1995. Amazingly, during 1995 and 1996, six film and television adaptations appeared, first Clueless, then Persuasion, followed by Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, the Miramax Emma, and the Meridian/A&E Emma.
This book traces the history of film and television adaptations (nearly 30 to date) of Jane Austen manuscripts, compares the adaptations to the manuscripts, compares the way different adaptations treat the novels, and analyzes the adaptations as examples of cinematic art. The first of seven chapters explains why the novels of Jane Austen have become a popular source of film and television adaptations. The following six chapters each cover one of Austens novels: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey. Each chapter begins with a summary of the main events of the novel. Then a history of the adaptations is presented followed by an analysis of the unique qualities of each adaptation, a comparison of these adaptations to each other and to the novels on which they are based, and a reflection of relevant film and literary criticism as it applies to the adaptations.
Sue Parrill, head of the English department at Southeastern Louisiana University, lives in Hammond, Louisiana.