I had a weird month of reading. It was dominated by long audiobooks that I started, had to return before I finished, and then ended up at the end of a long waitlist before getting again. I love Overdrive, but it does present a problem for continuity. This has caused 2 problems with reading Emma again. First, I didn’t get far because I was trying to finish other audiobooks before I had to repeat that process a second time. Second, I ended up putting Emma into that cycle. Curse these first world problems!
It seriously isn’t so much of a problem because I *have* read it before and I can talk about it. I just want it fresh in my mind before NaNoWriMo starts. I’ve been making plenty of notes to consider for my own outline, but I did make some progress with the book, just not as much as I hoped. I’m glad we are giving this one 2 months.
Let me set up my feelings on Emma: It’s my 4th favorite Austen book. After this one we get into the ‘dislike’ category. My devotion to Emma lies primarily in the shoulders of Clueless, which is the epitome of a successful Austen modernization. I love that movie so freaking much. I can quote it, I can identify references to it in other popular culture (Scream references it…), and I will never stop loving the movie. The original Emma, not as much. I love it, but I love Clueless more. The difference lies in my own desires to modernize these books: relevance. Austen’s themes are possibly timeless, but her settings aren’t so much. I relate better to modernizations and think it makes her originals more accessible. I might be wrong, but I simply get Cher better than I get Emma.
How far did I get into Emma: well into the Elton/Harriet storyline. There is an interesting complexity to Emma. There are so many moving parts: Elton and Harriet, the Weston/Churchill issues, Jane Fairfax, the Knightly brothers, and the Woodhouse family. There are a lot of moving parts to keep track of. The reason, from my perspective, has always been that Emma is completely unaware of the complexity of her world and thus nearly ruins everyone’s lives. Both her father and George Knightly see this far better than she does.
Side note, did anyone ever realize that George Knightly is more than twice her age. I don’t think I ever thought about it. Also, Johnny Lee Miller is by far my favorite George Knightly, but I *LOVE* Paul Rudd and want him to play the role someday. It would be so meta… If you don’t know, Paul Rudd played the modernized version of the character in Clueless.
The premise of the entire story rests on Emma making a lucky guess about two characters getting married and thinking this makes her a good matchmaker. We enter the story after that wedding, so we don’t observe her assumed success. We simply see her congratulating herself. What is different with Clueless, as my best comparison, is that we see Cher and Dion act as matchmakers. Cher has manipulated a couple together for her own purpose (a better grade), but happened to bring together two compatible people. We don’t see the wedding until the very end of the movie.
Another point that struck me, in comparison to Clueless, is the focus on her next matchmaking attempt. In Clueless, it’s Mr. Elton who is the original object. She befriends Harriet as she is looking for a match for him. In Clueless, she meets Tai and tries to identify the right match for her. This changes the context again. In the book she is simply identifying a random single person in her life. In the movie she believes she is helping someone fit in with her clique. The emphasis is put on acceptable people to associate with and aligning yourself correctly. This is a theme in the book, but Emma’s efforts also feel like she is making Harriet acceptable for Mr. Elton to choose rather than thinking she’s simply helping Harriet fit in.
What do you think about these issues? Feel free to share in the comments!