l-‘anny: and lianny ‘s eventual cottpling with long-time unrequited loy'er lidmund is rendered more explicit (she gets the clergyman‘s son alter all). But where hiin school. teen and pop culture might be acceptable to .’\ustcn purists. the ‘seying up~ of a literary classic apparently isn’t: .lluns/ie/(I l’urk has been branded a 'Regency bonkbuster‘ and Ro/ema has receiy ed particttlarly harsh criticism l‘or her reyisions.

Though the most profitable ol' Austen‘s publications (she earned £350 l‘rom it). .lluuy/ie/r/ Park has diyided readers. many ol whom regard it as emotionally restrained. it not outright dull. But when .l/(HIy/ilt’h/ Park was screened at last Noyembei”s London liilm l‘estiyal. it caused an uproar. outraged purists. .-\ustcn expert Ashton l)ennis made an extraordinary attack on the lilm in The (Juan/run: “There is no basis l‘or any ol' this in the noyel. There is much to be concerned about. Ms Ro/ema‘s prel’crence is to make lillltts til the lesbian experience and she is a selli-Proclaimed nihilistf

Ro/cma. whose ‘lcsbian lilm'.

Speaking on behall' ol


llmn/ 'l'lu' .lli'rmuiil's .S'I'numg was her

'I didn't want another Jane Austen garden party. I wanted to show her fierce humanity, her devastating wit, and her deep-seated belief in the power of love.’

Patricia Rozema

debttt (and a (‘annes pri/e-winner. incidentally). has responded: 'l’rom the

beginning I didn‘t want to do another

.lane .-\usten garden party. I wanted to

show the passion of Jane Austen. her

lierce humanity. her deyastating wit. and her deep-seated beliel' in the power of line between two people. The tnore I read about .lane hersell'. the more I wanted to bring her incredible spirit into the story and giye some ol‘ that dynamism back to lianny. It is ol'tcn said that .lluns‘fic/i/ Park is Jane Austen‘s most autobiographical noyel. l l’ound mysell' speculating on how liar that could go.‘

Ro/ema draws on reyisionist biographical and critical material. that challenges the long-held View of .-\usten as a prim Victorian spinster. instead painting her as a rebellious rioti- conl‘ormist; a 'wild beast' in the noyelist’s own words. She has also made use ol what suryiyes ol' Austen's letters. journals and early l'iction. the majority ol which was destroy ed by the author’s lainin for reasons unknown. Much of this material including a larcical history ol lingland written when Austen was a tnerc l'ourtccn years old appears in the film. which rcinycnts

lianny as a writer. Indeed. Rozema's speculation oi how far to take the autobiographical element of the Itoy‘el has resulted in her merging lianny Price and .'\usten. l'nsurprisingly. this strategy doesn‘t sit well with the purists either. Dennis again: 'There is more than enough content in the time] for a film. To add material in this way is to show disrespect to the much

You can understand Austen l'ans being proprietorial about their layourcd writer. bttt surely an acknowledged classic can withstand a little re-interpretation'.’ Shakespeare's plays still hold their power. generation alter generation. With time. The [orbit/den I’lum'l a science fiction B—moyie reworking of The 'li'm/u’sl ~ has come to be regarded as a genre classic: and no one is decrying Robbie The Robot standing in for :\riel. This leads one to speculate that. regardless of the treatment l’ilmmakers giye source texts. once a classic. always a classic. Meanwhile. the debate oycr .iluzis/ie/i/ l’urk continues.

Mansfield Park opens Fri 31 Mar. Madame Bovary is broadcast on BBC2, Mon 10 8. Tue 11 Apr.