Archive for June, 2011

Dear friends and readers,

This is another of the long letters. For someone interested in Austen as a novelist — and if we were not, this collection of letters would probably be of interest only to specialists in the era — the most interesting, and thus far unique, feature of this letter is the vignette or anecdote that is developed in the second long paragraph about Miss Wapshire, first name possibly, Emma (Austen wishes the name were Emma because perhaps she is beginning her The Watsons around this time), which very like the nuggets for fictions in Henry James’s notebooks reads like an sketch-outline for a typical Austen novel. 

What is of further interest here is the coy way Austen refers to "Emma" as a name she wishes she could be certain of. It’s arguable that in fact Cassandra did not destroy the earlier references to Austen’s books in Austen’s letters but that she and Jane had agreed not to mention them.  This does suggest that Harman’s idea that Austen’s novels were not respected by her family, were something she needed to keep marginalized is so.

Emma (Romola Garai) and Harriet (Louise Dylan)  in the first phase of their relationship, walking together, charitable deeds (2009 Emma)

A unique feature is it appears to be the only one from Jane at or from Ibthorpe.  In Lefaye, there is No 39 which is to Ibthorpe, but no other from. There are a number of others to Martha Lloyd scattered throughout the collection.  After this letter and before the next, occurred the momentous day Austen came home and was told the Austen family would move to Bath, Steventon would become her brother’s and she would have to get out.  There is no record of that by her — only hearsay and memory which records that she was stunned and profoundly dismayed.  We don’t get any of that directly in the letters Cassandra kept. There’s a series from 1801 the first part of their long time in Bath and then silence.  Given her love of letter writing and her love of getting them, I imagine she wrote to Cassandra whenever Cassandra went to Godmersham and also to Martha and (as I recall) Anne Sharpe. All gone.

So given what lay just ahead, I’m glad to say this is a very happy letter.  We’ve had two letters written in high spirits in expectation — while Jane waited and looked forward to seeing her friend:  Letter 26 and 27.  This happiness is captured in phrases, e.g., "I have the pleasure of thnking myself a very welcome Guest, & the pleasure of spending my time very pleasantly."  Like most people Austen writes out of a context and memory and this sentence comes out of the vistis where she was not a welcome guest and did not spend her time pleasantly. The time was a relief.  It probably made Austen feel good to think she could have a good time, could fit in somewhere, could be with someone who genuinely wanted her.  If a resolute ignoring of all that Jane valued (the life at Steventon, the house, its environs) was to come upon her return home (sprung on her it seems) and a forced living where she didn’t want to (Bath) was to come, at least she has this just now.

Emma and Mrs Weston (Anna Taylor that was, Jodhi May) as confiding friends to another (2009 BBC Emma)

The burden of her song is that she does not have time to write or read as she and Martha are so busy together, doing things and being together.  They don’t tire of one another:  "it is too dirty even for such desperate Walkers as Martha & I to get out of doors, & we are therefore confined to each other’s society from morning til night, with very little of Books or Gowns. " Realistically probably had they had eons of time and visited often, they might eventually have tired of one another, but before one says that, one has to remember that Martha did come to live with the Austen sisters and their mother so this companionship is something more than temporary over-valuation. It did later stand the tests of time and living together. So it’s then revealing of her relationship with Cassandra and Cassandra’s need of her, Jane, that nonetheless Jane sits down to write. She is taking time from this rare treat — I remember how she didn’t mind in the least spending hours writing Cassandra when she was in Bath and how her penchant to sit apart and write letters then surprised the uncle (Perrot).


From 1995 P&P: Jane (Samantha Harker) and Elizabeth (Jennifer Ehle) laughing together after the first assembly
To the details: 

The first long paragraph (from "Shall you expect" … to "so short a space of time") tells of Jane and Martha’s first few days together and the preoccupation Jane returns to is it was impracticable to walk. Jane says this is not uncommon in this parish: when she says the roads are dirty she is referring to more than heavy dust; she means ruts, rocks, and a lot of mud. It’s December, rain, snow. She says they didn’t mind at all, were so glad to be together, but it’s clear they would have liked to wander and roam about too, not just sit.

Austen also tells of her journey to Ibthorpe.  Apparently Cassandra was not there when she left and Jane feels she must tell of Mrs Austen’s health and we get the usual scepticism towards any idea that Mrs Austen is weak or ill: she left her "very well" … "with strict orders to continue so" and expectation that she will (no matter what she says). She describes one of the stopovers (Andover); how she stopped at shops (Messrs Painter and Redding, haberfdasher, linen and woollen draper) and a visit to Mrs Poore and her mother.  She’s glad to find the mother in good spirits (so often the woman was not) and I take it Mrs Poore is another of these pregnant women. The quesion is how big is she; Jane couldn’t care less is really the message here.  LeFaye’s notes say the man was a doctor (surgeon, apothecary and mid-wife) so not high on the social scale, but learned and genteel enough; two boys at home.  Apparently they or someone else had boasted about the staircase of this house and its "elegant drawing room".  To be sure, it’s one of these big houses the privileged at the time (above the vast majority of abysmal poor) and is now a museum.  A line suggests that Austen is sceptical of some compliment either Cassandra or the Poores had made about Austen herself:  she did everything "that Extraordinary Abilities can be supposed to Compass in so short a time." 

What’s pleasant about the first part of the paragraph is the infectious enthusiasm she genuinely feels. All the remarks about her and Martha.  Mrs Stent was one of these very poor hanger-on women. Reduced "to very narrow means."  As Cassandra might have asked if she can expect a letter by Wednesday, in a missing letter she also asked about Mrs Stent and whether she made herself scarce.  She didn’t this time: she gives "quite as much of her company as we wish for, & rather more than she used to." I don’t feel in these lines any irritation with Mrs Stent. Austen does not mind her there.

At one time I might have made some remark about how nowadays we don’t have such women around to the same extent, that it is not usual — women with no job, no income, no place — I can say that no longer.  Massive unemployment and underemployment has brought this back — also men too without jobs or sufficient ones. Now that welfare is destroyed too and there are no records kept of all the women thrown off and their children, they too are hidden in families, shelters, streets, wherever, our society doesn’t care about them as long as no one has to help them out of general funds.  Out of individual sight and records so out of mind. The general poverty rate of children in the US is high; records of the poverty level of women are calculated quite differently (as part of wage levels) but it’s all back.  There’s also the rise of people living together and breaking up without marrying and the divorce rate very high.

Apparently there were quite a number of female Debarries. Lefaye’s note lists 4 daughters and one wife.  Three called right away to but she has not yet "returned their civility."

There is then a break, a new or second long paragraph. Perhaps Austen got up, went away and came back to write again.


Elinor (Hattie Morahan) and Marianne (Charity wakefield) getting into bed together

From the second sentence in this letter on "the endless Debarries" down to the Jane’s wish she could be certain that Miss Wapshire’s first name is Emma is detailed news about the people who the Austen would considerable visitable who live in the close neighborhood of the Lloyds. These are by no means all the people roundabout, just those of the Austen and Lloyd class. What kinds of details does Austen tell?

The story the Debaries told her about Emma (?) Wapshire. We learn of her mother, a widow with a "good fortune" and "several sons & daughters", "a house in Salisbury". She was a "beauty for many years," and Austen says this older young woman promises better than the bloom of 17, "though still handsome less handsome than she had been." She was told of "the remarkable propriety of Miss Wapshire’s behavior;" it seems much more decorous than "the general class of Town Misses" which thus rendered her "very unpopular among them." There is a little irony in her hope she has now conveyed the real truth. I suspect there was a letter now missing where she told of this woman and Cassandra found a contradiction and really wanted to know.  Austen is not sure that Miss Wapshire is the eldest so now she’s being careful.  At Salisbury everyone really thinks this match is for real. Did Cassandra doubt it? Austen is not finished with the woman.  She liked Austen’s gown and "particularly bids me to say that if you could see me in it for five minutes, she is sure you would be eager to make up your own."

It often startles me how people can care about other people’s lives this way and get all involved in the minutiae of local gossip, but ask them any question of general import (larger politics) or expect them to notice what actually is significant and they go blank. The sentence attributed to Miss Wapshire shows a desire to flatter and is couched in cant-like language and I take Austen really to "blush" to have to repeat this kind of verbiage.

We can though say this: this anecdote is a little novel in the making. I can imagine Austen developing a story from it. It’s the sort of thing Henry James records in his notebooks whch he later develops in interesting ways.  I note Austen wishes she were an Emma.  She will soon be writing or has begun The Watsons with its Emma. An Emma Woodhouse novel is to come.

Having accomplished satisfying Cassandra, Austen’s matter derives from having gone shopping. She manages two generalizations: she’s pleased to "make so munificent a present", and she learned the price of this manufacture of pretty material. It’s figured cambric muslin for Edward — doubtless a shirt a woman would have to sew for him.

A new plan to go out walking. They plan to have a "nice black frost" and the image of her and Martha in the postchaise reminds me of Lydia Bennet’s idea of fun: "there throw ourselves into a postchaise, one upon another, our heads hanging out at one door and feet the opposite."

Here also is a slapstick scene like we find in the juvenilia. She makes herself and Martha into gay clowns.  The grotesquerie is very much like what is in Orlando; a gay kind of humor, something one finds in Sondheim too.  The grotesquerie is very much like what is in Woolf’s Orlando; a gay kind of humor, something one finds in Sondheim too.  Also Angela Carter in Nights at the Circus

Then a swift associated joke:  If Cassandra doesn’t know Miss Dawes has been married for 2 months now Austen will mention it in the next letter.  And

"Pray do not forget to go to the next Canterbury Ball. I shall despise you all most insufferably if you do.

We expected her to say "if you don’t."  She enjoying the two contradictions, paradoxical talk.

This brings on a memory that the Lloyds neighborhood will have no ball for the owner/manager lost too much money last winter. So she is sending her spies (Mymirdons — from Iliad — a joke about her power) to tell her about the ball at Basingstoke, and she’s placed spies at different places to collect the more, sent Miss Bigg to the townhall.  The fun is all imagination; Myrmidons, spies, Miss Bigg sent on ahead. The point:  see how powerful Austen is when of course she isn’t.   A dream of absolute power to move people about.

All this together will give her a picture to send Mrs Austen.

Did Mrs Austen ask for this kind of news? I suppose so.

So the second part of Austen’s letter is a direct result of answering requests, cavils, interests of her mother and sister.  The last part all imagination; Myrmidons, spies, Miss Bigg sent on ahead. See how powerful Austen is.

A day goes by and Cassandra’s letter has arrived. Monday.  Austen now hopes there will be nothing "requiring immediate attention" as they are to dine and ‘she has neither time to read nor I to write." 

Charlotte Lucas’s (Lucy Scott) hurt need for Elizabeth: Charlotte presses Elizabeth to come to her at Hunsford, she knows she will not be leaving the place as she says "for some time" (95 P&P): poignant moment

Austen is for once ambivalent about letters.  She would have preferred Cassandra not to make these demands; she wants to devote herself to her and Martha.  I also see a bit of straining.  Because Austen normally does not have this friend and enjoy her social life she is over-emphasizing the amount she is doing here, insisting on it — the way people do when they get to do something they long to do; they overemphasize it to compensate for before and after it goes on.

There is something that Austen enjoys with Martha that makes her see her usual reading and writing (which she usually loves) as second (or maybe third) best.


Earnest talk: in 1995 P&P Davies adds three dialogues where someone warns Elizabeth that she has not known Wickham long enough (the other utterances are by Mr Bennet, making fun, and Charlotte Lucas, seriously self-interested on Elizabeth’s behalf)

General assessment:: Austen’s letters do follow the natural rhythms of the life of an unmarried gentlewoman on constrained means. They also reveal the conscious mind-set of the author and aspects of her art. We see her intensely constained and limited circumstances. We can also speculate here that we see she was also pressured into hiding her gift and if someone did compliment her on her "extraordinary abilities" was inclined to mock. After all, in comparison to the rest of the world who could boast (men with careers, women marrying — which however Austen is not keen to do, much less get pregnant), what has she? one friend, Martha and no where to walk in. Still a spirited letter.  Austen making the best of things, indeed making more of them than they are.

See 1&2, 3&4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9 , 10, 1112, 13, 14 , 15, 16 & 17 , 18, 19 , 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 , 26 and 27.


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Dear friends and readers,

The third and last blog on this remarkable, unfortunately unreprinted mini-series, the 1984 Diana adapted by Andrew Davies, directors Richard Tucker and David Stroud, produced by Ken Riddington. Parts 1 through 5 and some of 6 dramatized R. E. Delderfield’s There Was a Fair Maid Dwelling (the first two thirds of the present single volume Diana), in a strongly elegiac romance mode, mixed with much social drama, much of the story of Jan wholly invented or filled with much more plausibilty and coherence than found in the novel.  Some of Parts 6 through 9 dramatize The Unjust Skies (the present last third of the single volume Diana), this one again combines romance (mixed modes), social drama with a spy-anti-war thriller melodrama. This last blog is Part 10 which has a central sequence set up to remind us of The Bridge on the River Kwai ending on a brief reprise of the Paul et Virginie.

What has emerged from this careful journey through a 10 part mini-series is that we have been given at one step’s remove a complex portrait of a heroine type usually dismissed as frivolous, a destructive femme fatale and here found to be a courageous spirit living a richly rewarded inward and outward life. John Leigh, or Jan (the character is aligned allusively with Jan Ridd of Lorna Doone) has grown up, but not changed in essentials; it’s not a movie about the education of Jan Leigh, but rather how his continuing enthralment with Diana Gaylorde-Sutton shaped and will continue to shape (even after she has died) his experience. The two paratexts which dominate the film pictorially, the Folly where the couple have met and had central trysts and talk and the two buzzards endlessly twirling about one another are an emblem of Davies’ film’s struggle against conforming to their world’s unjust irrational restrictions.  This is a central theme in all Davies’s romances.

This last segment from Delderfield’s book is dominated by darkness,

Opens on fierce quarrel scene before Jan is forced into duty as a saboteur, him accusing and mistrusting her

and war scenes, with the only relief the French countryside during the day and dream of Sennacharib that ends the story.

From tracking shot of Jan walking down the hill from her grave

As with the two first blogs, this takes the form of summary, notes and dialogues from scenes.

First segment: the pair in the cottage before he leaves.  Fall into primal quarreling; he does not mind her abortion and inability to have a child but her sexual promiscuity and her deserting him; how will he know she will be there when he returns (vastly improved version of pp. 562-77). The defense is the love; she goes upstairs, he follows, they make up, and she promises not to have operation because of her weak heart until he returns.

The head shot of her on pillow has become a repeating motif of Davies’s films: it’s as if it’s a shorthand in say the 2008 S&S

Second long central piece: war in France.  This is based on myths of French resistance, improbable idea that one man would be sent this way, and just this woman to find the right contacts to save him, that Jan could fool anyone as a "killer" type.  The first use of trains to be anonymous, frightening, the modern world (becomes ubiquitous in TWWLN, HKHWR), a French sky; the central segment of him as saboteur with dangerous men who (we see) use the war to murder those they just don’t like.  another of these tight dialogues with Raoul, Jan left with French communist, Simon (Philip McGough).  Davies enjoyed writing their debates (not in book):

Grim Simon:  He was seaman, before the war, Cardiff Liverpool.  Both in Spain ( all added by Davies) Jan calls himself a journalist and Simon calls that a tourist. "Fair enough" says Jan.  Simon quotes English poets — Auden, Spender, love one another or die … they talk about necessary murder  then they go home"  Jan: "I’ve done the necessary murder" Simon: "yah… yeah… me too plenty …"  They are becoming friends. simon;  "Funny first I work for French aristocrats, then I work for English gentlemen… " Jan: "I’m not a gentleman"  Simon: "All English officers are gentlemen"

Simon clearly hostile. Jan has his gun under his pillow loaded. Next morning, tthe first shot we see a hand with a gun, we see Jan awaken and look under his pillow, no gun, across the way Simon says:   "English officer sleep very well" and throws the gun across.

Point made how people kill one another under cover of war.  Man (or Simon) heard whistling tune from movie Bridge on River Kwai

Outside they climb and survey in lovely pastoral green countryside, they are setting up bombs to hit track and station house with Nazis in it. Simon now respects Jan as leader, they return and more nighttime table talk: Simon wants to go to America, wear big hat, drink in a whiskey bar just like Auden. "I thought that you were a communist …" "I am communist" and "America’s a capitalist country" "when this bloody war is over every country will be socialist country …" "the land [then] belong to everyone my friend."  Jan: "Right"  Simon: "Right. You think I’m a fool, I’m not a fool I know these things will never happen …"

Child on bike riding to town; in town Simon and Jan, Jan to furniture shop, goes around back, and lo and behold he finds Diana with dark hair wig, looking like French bourgeois escapee from WW2 French film; she justifies herself that she knows people, she is useful (right), she will get him out (romancing).

Cut to high climactic blowing up of bridge; Simon too eager and stands with machine gun to kill and is killed: 

Climbing down by rope

Bomb all ready, waiting for train to appear

Simon eager, but nervous

Unfortunate human being fleeing tunnel, Jan shoots to kill

Jan escapes, seen on bike, then into town where Diana’s hugging a wall with a machine gun under her skirt

Diana in purple with machine gun at the ready

They grab a jeep and careen through bullied town, past checkpoint where she takes off her dark wig, then they are running through countryside. Now night falls and we are back in Paul and Virginie territory. We are returned to Nun’s Island kind of scene.  She says "This reminds me of nun’s island …all we need now is the gramophone and records … " A flute starts up again. She invites him to enjoy themselevs. We are to imagine them makng love. …  Later Diana:  "God I’m starving again … never mind Lance is supposed to be a wonderful cook… even he smiles …"  She is enjoying this.  A car of Nazis seen; they flee, she stands shooting and he jumps in the water; she is taken, he goes unconscious, rescued by doctor.

Then he decides to stay; revenge motif of him killing Germans.  A montage of death and killing; real footage intermixed; over-voice of time passing, Raoul comes to find him, make him sane, a scheme to save Diana as a prisoner of war in a convoy. 

We see Jan in hard light silent heading men through a wood … waiting along a road for cars and trucks to come through. Again bombing and shooting scene. These must cost … turning and crashing cars .. different kinds of footage intermixed:

someone’s face destroyed — war seen as hideous Nazi officer shooting everyone in tented truck. Jan attacks him hand to hand. He fears he sees her dead

He finally reaches her at back of truck, set up is parallel to his reaching Alison.  He is crying, lights on film now bleached. Raoul: "hold her gently you fool. She’s alive"

Her face made up to look like Alison’s in death.

Dissolve black, back to green world, soft returning music, we are before stables cottage with Jan shaking someone’s hand and car outside. Has black bag so doctor.  Cut to her laid against pillow in lovely soft acqua blue gown, hair lovely of course. She’s dying, spinal chord has been destroyed, her heart can’t last.

A last loving conversation; they’ve had what they’ve had, she’s glad she’s not the one left; one last request to take one more ride to Sennacharib (see above).  Last words: She:  "Look Jan the buzzards.’  He:  "Come, I’ll take you home."

Then the scene of him before the grave and walking away.

Just one last comment:  Alison Light’s Forever England:  Femininity, literature and conservatism between the wars treats of a group of women writers ignored by high culture literature (Compton Burnett, Murdoch, Christy, DuMaurier) as creating a myth of a green idyllic England whose values were to be cherished and could sustain good life between individuals (pictured often in retreat, as refuge). I’ve become persuaded that Alison Light’s book on women authors ought equally to have included so-called middle brow men, some of whom wrote great books (Angus Wilson, Anglo-Saxon Attitudes).  These Davies turns to like a homing pigeon, not that he thinks the UK perfect. In 1984 it’s not been ruined by Thatcherism which (after 1990s) he attacks but he does have this vision of somewhere wholesome, a visionary England (we see it in the 2008 S&S), or maybe it’s just the natural world that Diana in this mini-series turned mythic (we find in the 2007 Room with A View).  Critics don’t want to contextualize these men with women, but certainly Angus Wilson knew his predecessor was Ivy Compton-Burnett.  Trollope belongs here for Davies too, and George Eliot’s English countryside.  Dickens shows the 19th century world cruel and anonymous already


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Dear friends and readers,

Yesterday I wrote a blog describing the first six parts of Andrew Davies’s 1984 10 part mini-series, Diana.  I write on the Parts 7 through 9 today. As I said yesterday I decided to study this film because it’s one of Davies’s neglected early romances and has had no scholarly talk about it anywhere, and not only sheds light on Davies’s attitudes and adaptation processes, but is a wonderfully well done richly varied film in content and art types (including film noir sequences, wild war and in Part 10, a Bridge on the River Kwai one of blowing up a train, complete with an allusion in the form of someone whistling the movie tune).

Closing sequence of Diana:  2 buzzards seen as part of credits/paratext here photographed as Jan and Diana take one last look: she is dying, partly paralysed:

Jan (Kevin McNally) and Diana (Jenny Seagrove)

Parts 7 & 8

Adaptation from The Unjust Skies, part 2 of book now printed as last third of Diana:

Much of Part 7 wholly invented, especially all the matter not having to do with Diana (the marriage time with Alison, the training school, Alison’s death), Raoul de Roydon (Ives Beneyton) built up to be an individualized character and connecting linchpin to spy-killer thriller war parts. Part with least of Diana, she appears first at Alison’s funeral (she is pregnant), they walk through cemetery; again at the close when he enters the French house where he has agreed to kill someone as saboteur, she is there theatrically to greet him.  He is persuaded to join in by 3 meetings, Ackerley  (Jeffry Wickam) and Raoul after death of Alison; Diana in pub after funeral; and then with Raoul where he is already half-disguised.

Diana as revenant; a little later they wander together amid the graves (Pt 7)

Notes on Part 7:  Opens with marriage ceremony: Alison’s in-laws stayed away, feeling their dead son betrayed; again these goodbyes by windows — very common with Davies. Jan now treasures boredom and futility of his posting, warm, dry, no one trying to kill him, staying alive had become important again — over-voice.  Friendship with Lt Starkey (Adam Norton).  Jan & Starkey forced out from idyll to train under Ackerley (Jeffry Wickham), Ackerley one of Alison’s gremlins.   The bullying, taunting, teaching to kill.

Starkey needled, humiliated

She comes to London on his first leave, and is killed by bomb.

Finding Alison

Sequence includes real footage of bombing of St Paul’s.  Grief, guilt of Jan. Call by Ackerley to meet Raoul de Roydon who wants to recruit him (as advised by Diana) to kill someone for him and Madame de Roydon (reconciled with her husband says Raoul sardonically). John recognizes as a Diana idea; refuses. The funeral:

"it was a quiet funeral I wanted to keep everyone away to hug my bitterness and sorrow; no thrupenny wreaths, he didn’t want to share her death with anyone. I wanted to avenge it in some way and didn’t want to share that either I wanted to be in every sense alone. (all original with Davies) Diana’s voice calls him back: Jan!. 

Two walking side-by-side; they pass a graveyard or walk though one in high grass. In bar: I just knew Raoul would get it all wrong with you."  Tactless:  "When you’ve got over your wife’s death? He: "In a day or two do you mean?" "Was she anything like me at all."  He: "Do you think that I feel like discussing her now with you? .. "She wasn’t like you no not in any way"  Diana: "And you loved her … He: "Yes I loved her …" She is glad.  He: "you’re pregnant aren’t you."  She: I hoped you wouldn’t notice … "  He: "Why don’t you forget all this nonsense you’re mixed up in you’ve got out of France, you’re here stay here … stay with Yvonne.  She: "I wish I could … He "It might be important for you to play your games, it always was wasn’t it …" He tells her she’s playing heroine with bullets this time …  and she does admit to enjoying it.  She also hates Rance (we are slowly to gather but it never feels all that strong):   Rance to run whole [Nazi] operation  Swiss French … yes I think he is wicked  … I’ve had to see rather a lot of him socially … he’s a swine …" "Yes I see." She: "No you don’t I don’t think uyou could even imagine .." Rance is her lover  -acted out in next part.

The dark kitchen scene with Miss Rogers; this is a repeated motive where they assess where Jan is at now.

His adieu to his child (Rachel Farley); he is taking it on, and we see him confabulating in disguise with Raoul; told the real man he is masquerading as had "unusual tastes" (was gay, again brought in), see him arrive in France, walk by bridge, into house and there is Diana in morning lingerie waiting for him.


Jan murders Pierre Rance point-blank (Pt 8): in this part McNally takes on features of strong spy ruthless hero figure

Part 8 is heavily dependent on Unjust Skies; complicated action-adventure sequence punctuated by love-making and talk between Diana and Jan,

advice and counseling sessions with ironic wry Raoul, e.g.,

He does say that it’s one of her games to get him there for her own amusement This is a harsh assessment and if true, she’s radically unserious, frivolous. She is utterly unlike Alison we are told. In line with his outbursts of calling her a bitch. 

Then a whole day spent just getting to know each other again; she tells that she was pregnant last time … no inquest … don’t be angry with me please ..(abject for the first time, a cloying note) they walk over, kiss, next scene upstairs naked in bed

She: "You still love me don’t you?"
He:  "I never stopped you know that:

The love-making open them up to one another: "she can start to tell something things: the child she was carrying was Pierre Rance’s; he runs Ives .. He:  "and you were his mistress"  She:  "I still am … Got as close to Pierre as she could and find out as much as she could about what they were making there .. not in love but fascinated by him but I hated him now … she did what she had to do to not bear his child … [Rance] was angry, had thought it amusing fathering a child on his employer’s wife … I’ll be free of him in every way when you kill him.  "I’ll be free of him in every way when you kill him …  In this one Davies heads into different territories of sexuality not at all broached in To Serve Them All My Days. It’s made alluring by keeping it at a distance; in more recent films it is graphically displayed and feels awful (as anal intercourse in 2006 The Chatterley Affair).

Rance is coming tonight. Jane has been made up to look like he is Rance for later encounter with Ives de Roydon.

Now they have another meeting with Raou,l downstairs:  "After you kill him you impersonate him; then he infiltrates the factory,  The gun is suitable for what we have in mind. One clean shot from up there with this. I the head, naturally, no bother, no mess… "   This is followed by Diana bringing the gun.  After Raoul leaves, Jan up to the attic and long sequence of Jan watching sadistic-masochistic sex sequence between Pierre Rance (Jean Boissery) and Diana with Jan as voyeur.

Brilliant because framed, because we can see only part, hear only some of the words, more suggestive than more modern frank sequences of anal intercourse.

A little bit of film noir right here. Movie includes film noir sequences beginning as early as bits in Parts 4, 5 and 6, much more in 8 and 9 (nightmare presentation of events that we do not see directly that occur between 8 and 9). 

So, what is film noir?  the male version of psychological melodrama: In film noir a male protagonist caught between desire for femme fatale and "good woman" (so Davies has added Mary, Alison, fleshed out role of Miss Rogers, is more sympathetic early on to Madeleine).  The films are pessimistic, devoted to abjection; psychological melodrama, the psychic life of the female at the center provide plot-design (often using flashbacks). Flashback part of promise of restoration. Neither confirms positive values for real as both focus on psyche as agent of evil, causing destruction of self and others.  This is Davies’s really brililant way of blending a WW2 caper with WW2 footage and psychological sexual dramatizations of material often kept away from us. Now some of this vital to Davies’s Anglo-Saxon Attitudes too)
From Jeanine Basinger’s American Cinema and Turim’s Flashbacks in Films.


Just 2 shots of what Jan sees and some dialogue Jan hears:

"Va changez … " Rance puts these photos of naked and semi-naked women in the table. He:  "Tu les aime?"  She: "Actually I think that sort of thing is childish" Rance:  "What a prim little person You speak like an English nanny …" Honky tonk horn heard — like Louisiana soul He says: "Marche .. marche pour moi."  He has a stick, and she walks about in lingerie (hidden in walking of Elizabeth and Miss Bingley in P&P)  The POV is Jan up in the attic looking through peep hole – voyeuristic — we could imagine Rance has that stick up her behind. "It’s very strange; you speak like an English nanny and you move like a Marseilles whore.  Jan begins to mutter.  Rance:   "Come here Didi, lay down … "I think I might stay here for a day or two they do not expect me till Friday" He laughs when she says something in his ear

Jan shoots down:

and then fight erupts between them. Man trying to grab her, Jan jumps down, he fights with his whip. shoots him through chest; then steady through head. 

She walks over slowly, says his name, is nauseous Jan stands there unsteady, walks over to cover body with the purple silky material Diana had used for a cape

Afterwards redressed, he in shirt and suspenders drink over a table

He looks hard at her but says :"Better"
She: "I’m sorry Jan"
"No it’s my fault I made a mess of it"
"No I mean not clearing up afterwards … it was his … I didn’t know it was going to be like that … I’m not very much use … "

"Not very nice. I managed to clean up .. the blood .. about the … stuff … damage i can’t do very much about that .. they’ll have to get a builder in  …I bundled [Raoul] behind the sofa I leave the rest to Raoul and his men"

"I’m sorry too I should have shot him the moment he walked in
No you had to see you had to see what he was like
I saw a helluva lot more than I wanted to
Poor old Jan
So that’s … that’s what it was like between you and Rance
More or less. I wanted you to see … in a way
You enjoyed it?
Sometimes he wasn’t always like that
Ah Diana I don’t understand it I don’t want to understand it
He’s dead now Jan he’s gone
So we just forget all about him (rising hysteria in his voice)
Yes that’s what we try to do we do what we’re told (she gets up) and what we do now is we lock all the doors and go to bed there’s no going back Jan come on
He drinks down the drink, she holds his hand firmly; he puts united hands to his eyes.

Light flute as they make way down corridor, further and further silhouettes going up stairs to room. Long sequence of them retiring slowly slowly down corridor, silhouette, darkness and smaller and smaller; then sequence of him troubled in the night.

Raoul the next day; they made a bad job of it.  Men with cigarettes in mouth remove the body.  The drive through France. She:  " I want to go on and on traveling and never getting there I know."   Many car shots, a kind of tracking of car as it weaves in and out crossing from road to road:

One stopover:

She: "Yes all right I’ll come with you"
For good?
Yes for good
He:  you don’t really think we’re going to make it
She:  I didn’t say that
You don’t, do you
She:  I don’t know

Ends on car sequences where and Jan take up an abode (meeting with Raoul) after she goes off to be Ives’s wife. Raoul has little respect for Diana as a woman, though very affectionate about her.

Jan enters the ornate garden, house, compound (so back to lower class male in a way), Diana joins him, and they threaten the husband, Ives, who insults her mightlly. This is where the story most caper like.  They stuff him into car, barge into factory for information; get him down stairs, he betrays them and she runs over Ives de Roydon, her husband (Ives Aubert) in car.  She has car near place he has to get into; you go on he says; he is wounded, come back for me in the morning. She says they must make connection by 11:30. So she drives on and goes to talk to soldier as a decoy while he must force himself to run to where he needs to be.

Poignant music as his bloody exhausted strained face watches her chat up the soldier.  She is working to help him get past Nazi guard so he can escape back to UK so saving his life.  Grey black light; he passes her as she has drawn soldier in, hanging on gate; film slowly goes black as he goes unconscious.

Part 9: 

The action-adventure spy-kinky-erotic material and disquiet too (film noir in feel) made very tight in experience as opening of Part 9 in the UK with Jan in hospital, is series of epitomizing flashbacks that retell left-out details and rest of their adventure getting home, making an action-adventure sequence into subjective experience of trauma.  The point is to turn action adventure spy stuff into psychological inward experience and analysis of the chief character’s hangups and intense disturbance, like Jan’s killing of Rance at close range; hard loud banging of guns.

Starkey’s conventional happy romance with the nurse (Victoria Burton) a sort of subplot here. This is entirely added by Davies. The juxtaposition is salutary.

Anti war conversation also all Davies:  Starky’s visit to Jan:  "Is it something to do with this mysterious French resistance lady she’s been telling me about … you amaze me you always amaze me … what a dark horse you are …" "One flask of whiskey, poems of Catullus, men only, get well soon …" 

The positiveness of life is re-asserted.  Wholly invented scene and built up character of Starkey as he says (Adam Norton) "Jan:   … and it’s [what I’m saying is] serious." Starkey:  "Well I needn’t ask. Everything is serious with you, isn’t it? "I envy you … I’m actually alive that’s not to be sneezed at, is it?  Harvey’s dead you know …" And Appleby … it was terrifying. .."

Not in Delderfield at all.  All Davies:  Starkey:  "You now they try to tell you what it’s going to be like and then it’s all quite different … Like how exhausting it is to be afraid all the time … still that unarmed combat stuff … I never really believed it in the gym and then suddenly I had to do it … (moving monologue as he remembers) .. broke his back, John heard it go .. the human body really is extraordinarily fragile isn’t it? [Starkey’s mind goes back to Harvey] … Harvey … it bloody well works I’ve just killed myself with my bare hands … but Harvey was dead … it made me terribly angry that for some reason it must’ve been Harvey’s fluent French  .. He had such a wonderful bloody accent and he worked so bloody hard on his [something] vocabulary … then he never got a chance to speak a bloody word of it … I’m supposed to be cheering you up sorry …"  Jan: "you really are in a funny sort of way"  Starkey:  "You see I thought I was the only one who thought like that …"  Starkey:  "We’re going over again, that was just a rehearsal. .. you’ll get a desk job now … boredome for you …" Terror for Harvey… "Just remember your rat like instinct for self-preservation"

Jan wandering about hospital grounds, over-voice.  Then Jan and Diana first return to Sennacharib half-way through and talk of future in pub near water:

The return to village after hospital, near sea, talk of future, promises in pub

and then ensues their re-entry into group, how she is rightly distrusted, how she orders Drip about without thinking, her giving child horse-back riding lessons (too hard on child), the visit to Diana’s mother (very wry apt social jokes), the sequence of watching Diana naked in worship:

Jan watching

and now (as contrast to Alison talk) Diana’s talk of nature worship when they come back to house:

 "it’s only there I can do it you see. It’s only there it feels real. I felt like that since I was 14 …the kind of religion they tried to teach me in church was beastly, so prim and snobbish and it made me feel so wretched … and then all the money we had … I mean they talked about the poor inheriting the kingdom of God but no one seemed to believe it except me … and I thought if that’s it then I am doomed … but I did want to worship God somehow … then one day I went down to the beach all on my own just as you saw me today and it happened I realized that that’s it that’s what it is that’s where God is if he’s anywhere and it’s all part of nature and everything that’s part of nature is right …"

Then wedding, early euphoria cut off by call to return to France by Ackerley.

Part 10 and last thoughts in a third blog.


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Dear friends and readers,

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I’m making the first of (I hope) a few (not too many) blogs on Andrew Davies’s movies to help me think about his vast and varied oeuvre.  Perhaps some of these may be of interest to people who watch, enjoy, study, write about costume drama and film adaptation of historical novels and especially Davies’s Austen films(I now count at least 7by Davids  if you include his Bridget Jones films and his Room with a View) and his romances and heroine’s texts  (e.g., Wives and Daughters, Falling, Sleep with Me)

The paratexts of buzzards and a "folly" central to series.

The dialogue about it from Part 1:   "… Diana as a young:  "Gilroy built it to be sad in, don’t you think that … he fell in love with some girl he couldn’t marry so his heart broke … that’s what Drip said … He was really crackers, don’t you think. ‘ Jan as a boy:  "I don’t know."  Diana:  "Well of course he was , He should have gone off and married somebody else … He bursts out: "I’m not common and I’m going to be a writer … "

The 1984 10 part mini-series Diana is so good it seems scarcely believable it hasn’t been marketed with the same intensity as the 1980 13 part To Serve Them All My Days. Not only has it not been marketed, the only way you can watch it today is to download the whole thing from Pirate ebay, a considerably time-consuming and sophisticated task.  Jim did this for me, and among the revelations is that this is a book centered in erotic enthrallment, and (unexpectedly) thus imitates Brideshead Revisited repeatedly with its melancholy retrospectives spoken in over-voice by Kevin McNally as John Leigh (a Jan Ridd character — the allusion is to Richard Blackmore’s Lorna Doone) in the tone and manner of Jeremy Irons as Charles Ryder.  It also compares closely to Julian Bond’s (the writer) film adaptation of H. E. Bates’s Love for Lydia: the same enthrallment, a sensitive hesitant male finds himself called upon by arisocratic family to squire arrogant solitary girl.

I suspect it "fell out of the canon" because the male at the center is not by nature macho male, but driven in that direction by his entrancement with Diana (as played in the first two episodes by Patsy Kensit and the next 8 by Jenny Seagrove). a femme fatale who turns out to be unconventionally ethical.   McNally plays a gentle sensitive male with a depth of feeling for a particular woman he cannot get over in the Poldark films too (Drake Carne for Morwenna Chynoweth).  Diana is also often a deeply melancholy film, much much less upbeat than To Serve Them All My Days too.  Jan ends alone on his hill looking at his beloved’s gravestone in the countryside which nourished and sustained their love, Sennacharib. Yes the allusion is to Byron’s poem and meant to encompass the presentation of WW2 as bloody, brutal and (whatever the rational) amoral in its working out.  Davies is ever anti-war (e.g., his Dr Zhivago)..  

I have read Delderfield’s book and watched the film twice, the first time swiftly and with intense absorption before reading the book, and the second time after reading, slowly, taking some notes and capturing stills.  It’s a very curious film: it takes a strongly masculinist book (Delderfield centrally believes that women want to be mastered and beaten by males) and turns it into a sort of woman’s film, for an inwardly developed Diana is the center of the film.   At each turn, Davies discards the worst things in Delderfield (the class obsessions, the fawning, the unembarrassed male wet dream aspects) and subsitutes genuine humanity, decent activity and circles round the human vulnerability and isolation of his beautiful central presences.  It is a commentary type adaptation; even some of the hinge points are changed along the way; in this it’s very like the 1974 Pallisers by Simon Raven out of Trollope.

Places:  the Gaylorde-Sutton mansion, Heronslea, is the same house used for Cleveland in the 1971 Sense and Sensibility. Pythouse Estate, the Folly is Rushford Tower, north Chagford, Devon, near Rushwood  Wood.

Allusions Davies adds:  in Part 4 where Davies imitates film noir and 1930s and/or WW2 footage, he has Jan admit to his friend Twining (Jonathan Lynn) that he has been writing novels.  First he had at first written a (silly) wish-fulfillment novel:  "adolescent fantasy rich girl poor boy happy ending puerile," but now he is older and gone on to write a novel where "at center [there’s a] rich beautiful amoral girl destructive and yet self-destructive, doomed though she never recognizes it." Twining replies with cliches which we are still to take seriously:  "sprinkling of the jolly old Evelyn Waughs ….think I preferred the first version meself …"  Evelyn Waugh leads us to Brideshead (Decline and Fall)

In order not to go on too long about this mini-series (or exceed the normal length allowed by LiveJournal) this will just take the form of summaries of notes and stills for every couple of parts.  This blog will cover the part of the mini-series that adapts the first book of Diana (parts 1-5 and some of 6); tomorrow’s blog will cover Parts 7-9 which adapt the second book, and a third blog will be a description of Part 10 and final comment.

From There Was A Fair Maid Dwelling (part 1 of Diana as now printed)

Parts 1 & 2:

Jan (Stephen J. Dean for 2 episodes) and Diana (Patsy Kensit) watching the 2 buzzards circling above Sennacharib the first afternoon they meet; their first deeply felt congenial talk. Pt 1

Notes;  the woman who owns and runs bookshop is original addition by Davies, Miss Westbrook (Mary Morris): about the classic Lorna Doone, she says "Hi class twaddle in my opinion."  The hunt  Jan comes to watch (and be left out of) is in the novel, and also how Jan identifies with the fox. This exhilarating sequence of powerful girl riding will haunt the ending of the mini-series when Diana, nearly paralyzed, goes for her last ride before dying. In the scenes here Patsy Kensit wears a brilliant yellow sweater (all the sun comes to her) which stands out.

When Jan meets Diana for lunch, Ives de Roydon (her cousin she suggests, her parents would like her to become a wife of a man like him in rank) is clearly indicated to be gay, the point is reinforced. This is only mentioned as a possibility late in the book probably in order to blacken Ives.  Davies brings in homosexuality as much to humanize as differentiate this foppish rich privileged young man.

Saying goodbye: this is an obsessive Davies’s motif, the character at the window of the coach, train, bus, car Pt 1

Miss Reynolds (Gillian Raine), Diana’s ex-governess’s warns Jan. Diana calls her Drip: the character only marginal to the book and dropped mostly is developed fully and kept central by Davievs.  She tells Jan: 

"I just wanted to warn you I think I know how you feel about Diana and I think you’re very likely to be very badly hurt ..  [I’m a] foolish sentimental old woman but I do have some experience of how people like the Gaylord-Suttons deal with people like us Jan.  They keep us on just so long as we’re useful or amusing to them and then they crumple us up like old paper bags and throw us away .. have you ever wondered what it feels like to be called Old Drip …

It’s just a nickname it doesn’t mean anything, he says and she:  No of course not of course not and I answer to it just as a dog answers to its name because that’s where my food and shelter comes from and I give my affection too because there’s nothing else for me to do with it. I’m speaking to you like this because I believe you still have a choice …"

Diana when she takes off her outer garments when she comes to his house late at night after a quarrel she started and is drenched by the rain:  "It’s all right, the body is just the clothing of the soul you know"  "I read that in a poem in school. Don’t you think that’s beautiful.’  Jan: "Yes I do". This is not in Delderfield.

Stephen J. Dean is good at embodying sultry, resentful, sullen, passionate too.

The narrative voice-overs of Jan by the end are Kevin McNally and the sentiments and music echo Brideshead:  "She was offering herself but the offer was conditional I was going to have to become a gentleman. He has his Uncle Mark teach him to ride.

The trysts where they flee to Nun’s Island for 4 days is done as a Paul et Virginie sequence. Intense nostalgic over-talk by McNally:  "It lasted for four days, four of the most extraordinary days of my life …I had never felt so close to another human being [this is the idyll of Sebastian and Charles] We talked incessantly about out family … books … our absurd pipe dreams.  .. lived like savages … silence … I didn’t need to say we had used up all our supplies and our idyll was nearly done …"  Some of these words are in Delderfield as is the visionary feel.

Near end of Part 4: talking, swimming, fishing, Nuns Island pt 2

As well as use of candlelight at night (for atmosphere) the film makes modern use of flashbacks, voice-over retrospective throughout. I’d say Parts 1 and 2 are closest to the book of all the film but they take up less time in the film than they do the book. They are at least one half of the first volume while in the film adaptation they are one-fifth of the narrative. To be equivalent they’d have to be one-third.

Part 3 & 4

Much of these parts is wholly original:  Davies fleshes out Jan’s story to give him a successful career as a reporter in London

Jan (Kevin McNally) taught by Mr Blackler (Fulton Mackay) not to be a "piss poor reporter:"  people want "fighting and kissing."  This is a motif throughout the series: Jan on one side of a desk, someone in with power in an institution on the other Pt 3

and then during the early 1930s in Europe a correspondent. He invents characters: Mr Blackler (Fulton Mackay), the boss, who like Uncle Reuben (Iain Anders) teach him different versions of reporter who keeps some integrity and sells newspapers widely; what reporting is; he gives a bigger part to Twining who at first appears to invite men to Jan’s London flat when Jan not there (it’s not made clear).   Jan’s scrapbook; his returning to London house of Gaylorde-Suttons’:  "most of these evenings ended on a fruitless vigil on the pavement opposite .. I never saw anybody come or good but my obsession made me linger …"

Learning his trade during day pt 3

Added characters (Bellman [Lockwood West], the sports reporter whose pieces sell the paper).  Jan goes back and learns one can’t go home again.  Not in Delderfield at all. So in London John had found his "feet’ in life which means his career at the Illustrated Echo and life as a successful reporter — jazz music for this aspect of the experience – he feels a helluva felow that morning in 1934.  This is where he takes up with Madeleine (from the novel).

What is kept is the Diana material: this includes his use and betrayal of Madeleine (Claire Toeman) in London (changed so that we see Jan lose his virginity and to make Claire a decent sort — the dislike of her as promiscuous in the book is dropped).  His treatment of this sweet young woman made awful:

Meeting under the clock (this still doesn’t show it but it’s there — where she is stood up on her birthday and exits the film for good). Pt 3

Part four brings Diana’s flight from him after she encountered him by chance in London bookstore, and their reunion at the Folly:

Diana grown up (Jenny Seagrove, first close up of her) Pt 4

her having him in her room during her birthday party and what should be for him humilating use of him as a stud in her bed; the long flashbacks of memory as they make love (in his mind).  Again is addition of homosexuality:  Ives comes into her room by mistake; he does not want her but has his own secrets with male lover

Then her refusing to be serious with him, her letter turned into speech at the Folly and his intense anger dramatized. .  

Then long stint of him as tough reporter: blends a sort of Bogart kind of archetype (complete with cigarette), news footage and Jeremy Irons retrospective narratives. In cafe given a darker sexier turn to make it fit a kind of small film noir during run up to WW2 part.He reads of how for her the war is antics for the rich. He meets her in cafe and rejects her. 

Diana:  I’m "in the pink. I’m always in the pink when I’m in Paris, aren’t you. Jan:  "How the hell did you find out where I was ..  She says he has changed; he replies: "We all change." She:  "Where did he get that suntan. He: "Spain." She: "Oh but Spain’s absolutely impossible now with that dreary war …"  He:  "I did notice the war yes I was reporting it." She:  "Frightfully interesting people"  He: "Most of them are dead." She "Everyone loves Berlin.  Maybe we didn’t meet the same people"  He: "No I don’t suppose we did."  She: "It’s not a crime to have a good time and enjoy yourself you know … oh what a bore you never used to be such a dreary earnest chap. I can’t tempt you then." He: "No not any more. She: "Oh well never mind, and trots off, "I expect you’ll see my picture in the papers. He (deep voice):  "I sensed her unhappiness without malice but without compassion" (!) I told myself that I was free"

But she had rekindled my curiosity and he begins to follow her in the papers … "the pack she traveled with …" "In tracing that rootless life I began to feel my own rootlessness on impulse I cabled Uncle Reuben and told him I was coming back, coming back for good …

When he returns to Devonshire, finds she has been in an accident, at first thoght dead, but discovers she was drunk while driving and caused the death of three people, and of course he rescues her, teaches her, is her priest (though he denies it) and they seem returned to their love. Miss Reynolds says I hope you are not trying to bring back the past, he says no, and she "of course you’re not) but he was.  Voice over of intense resonance. Sometimes the whole way McNally holds his body reminds me of Jeremy Irons in Brideshead

Exhilaration remembered later Pt 4

So the two parts become the education of Jan as he swirls endlessly around this woman he is a satellite of. He makes himself an ambitious man for her as well as himself.  In the book he hardly leaves Devonshire, and Davies feels a need to account for his leaving this wonderful career Davies gave him so Reuben is now dying and wants to leave firm to him; then we get Reuben’s speech on egalitarianism (from the book) to which is added how he didn’t marry a girl above him he should have (alas she ended a spinster you see).  Film has strong class-based conflicts in the scenes, including at funerals (people must pay to have lines in — Uncle Reuben’s).

So, death of Reuben, funeral, they are together in the Folly and part 4 ends.

Part 5:

Like much of Part 3 and some of Part 4, Parts 5 and 6 are made up of enormous amounts of invention, especially the long Alison sequence and setting up of children’s establishment at Heronslea, the interview process, the idea of what education is about (teaching the spirit, vivifying it) enunciated by implication during that interview and the pessimistic intimations or perception of existence we find in Alison Hill (Lynne Miller). 

A wholly new character is Mary Easton (Christina Barryk) who works for Uncle Mark (Jack Watson) and then for Jan as horsewoman and manager; someone he neglected to love as a woman but helped enormously as a friend.  Davies takes over the best of Delderfield’s scenes (such as his meeting with Mrs Gaylord-Sutton [Elizabeth Bennet) living in utter impoverishment at the close of Part 5, and he imitates whole genres (WW2 sequence) as well as the close of Brideshead where Charles is talking to Hooper becomes (Part 6) Jan talking to subordinate, Bowles [Michael Mella]).

The story:  we see Heronslea now under wraps, white sheets (so common in these film adaptations); John visits Diana’s father to demand her hand, and is astonished to find her father only too glad; she seems to know, is off to London and he discovers her scheme to set him up with her money, he is incensed (this in the book). He will not be her plaything; so off to Uncle Mark to buy the riding place and turn it into a working money-making stables and genuinely habitable place.  Mary’s strong help.

Part 5: Mary (Christina Barryk) defying Uncle Mark whose property Jan has come to buy in order to forestall Diana’s plan to make him into an upper class gentleman-squire at Foxhayes

As they work, the nostalgic regretful voice:  all new and invented:  "[She was one] of Twining’s nutbrown lasses I took her utterly for granted and I never considered for a moment what she might feel about me"  But all but Mary is in the book.

Station greeting between Diana and Jan: he all masterly forceful, they are not going to FoxHayes There is something angry in him. He shows her the stables.   She: "You are joking — it’s a thatched cottage after all." He: "It’s mine it’s ours."Mary passes by and Diana to him: "You’ve sold out and spent your money on this dump …" accompanied by insulting way of treating Mary: "Who is this person?  … " Jan: "This is Mary she works here … Diana:  "Well hasn’t she got any work to do then?"  Jan then pushes her Diana into house:  "What the hell do you think you’re doing, talking to Mary like that"  Diana:  "I’ll talk any way I damn well like."  Jan:  "Not here you won’t, not in my place …"  Diana: "You fool you could have had FoxHayes …"

He is defying her putting him into squirearchy and this is significant to Davies too: "I know I can make a business of this … well this is what we talked about, isn’t it … living together in Sennacharibb … I mean well this is it this is what I wanted .."  Diana: "Oh Jan you bloody fool didn’t you realize that was just a game .. this is real life. Did you really think I’d want to live in a rural slum with a bunch of  broken winded hacks and a fool for a husband"  Suddenly and it’s not prepared enough and not in the book quite so directly:  "You bitch … you stupid cruel mindless bitch."  She:  "how dare you say that to me"  He:  "Because it’s what you are you bitch …"

She takes something to hit hm with and whips his face. He stops her hitting again, and whacks her down with his bare hand. They make up intensely suddenly, and she "Make love to me, John – we are to feel this violence brought this on … He:  "You did want to see the upstairs …"  All from book.

He "Why don’t you want to stay with me …" He won’t let her go alone: "All right where are we going then …you’ll see I’ve got it all worked out." They are camping out in great house with record player they had in the Folly.. The emphasis on the Folly and mention of Nuns’ Island and use of phonograph is further intuitive development from Davies. They are again two trespassers, just two nameless wanderers who happen on a strange old empty house for shelter from the storm.  A recreating Nun’s Island fantasy.  After sitting and listening and drinking, she says she was fool about FoxHayes business, "Sorry Jan."  Jan:  "I don’t want anything from your family except you and I want to marry you now"  She agrees "All right then" She says she will ilve in that rural slum and will be no practical use, cannot be bothered," admits her jealousy of Mary, but "I’ll make you laugh sometimes and well have lovely times in bed   We know the worst about each other — "

But we have seen hardly any bad in Jan:   Twining: he’s a "noble" person.  He is an ultimate hero in this novel; his only flaw is in fact his enthrallment. 

They are about to retire "upstairs," and telegram about her father’s bankruptcy (and we discover later suicide). "You’d like to see the upstairs would you" In high servant voice. "Yes I would very much …"  She would have let phone ring … her father probably dead.   He: "Yes of course "Let me drive you up …" "No thanks you’ve got much too much on your plate anyway I don’t want to get there before my mother does … We do rather seem to be doomed …"

The buzzards and folly — doomed lovers.

She didn’t stay very long; we were here only yesterday morning she does say "Whatever you read or hear about me remember I love you that’s all the counts … all right .. must fly." His face darkens.

Morning, Mary there and she makes him some breakfast. "The young lady”s gone to London. He apologizes for yesterday . "I hope you’ll come to like her very much Mary.  Diana and I are engaged to be married. She: "Oh." 

Now in news office again; Twining on phone to give news of bankruptcy and Sutton’s jumped out the window. John finds he cannot reach Diana by phone.  London: Twining tells him to drink ujp as soon there will be none of this, war coming, he’s not expert but people tell him Spain a dress rehearsal — interest in Spain comes from Spanish civil war. He can find nothing about two women; mother and daughter have disappeared

Remembers the solicitor (Moray Watson) and scene of man behind a desk become kindness once again as the solicitor gives him Mrs Sutton’s address.  People down and out have sordid landladies and live up high in old wooden surroundings.   Much of this powerful scene taken from Delderfield (pp. 348-54):

He tells her he asked Diana to marry him, she said yes and Mr Sutton approved.  She is cold and distant and congratulates him upon 1000 pounds. Her room impoverished. He came there to give her the 1000 pounds.  "I’m quite penniless."  (So what happened to Miss Rogers? — we are to forget how she survived)
Mrs G-S:  "I shall survive, Mr Leigh.  I was a dressmaker before I met my husband, I shall be a dressmaker once again. Now you see I have such excellent contacts."
Leigh: "And what about Diana?"
Mrs G-S: "You know I feel quite sorry for you, Mr Leigh [added line]"
Leigh:  "Do you know where she is?"
Mrs G-S: "Oh yes"
Leigh: "Aren’t you going to tell me?  Don’t you think I have a right to know?"
Mrs G-S: "I’m not sure that you do Mr Leigh.  You seem surprised that I can face the prospect of life without money. What on earth makes you think my daughter could?"
Leigh:  "Because she loves me and because she’s going to marry me, that’s why"
Mrs G-S: :"She may or may not love you, Mr Leigh, but I can tell you for certain she is not going to marry you [stretches out the scene]"
Leigh: "Let her tell me that. Where is she?"
Mrs G-S: "She’s in France where she was married yesterday to count Ives de Roydon. Could I make you some tea Mr Leigh?"
His face becomes intensely distressed — like when as Drake he would hear of Morwenna after her coerced marriage

Cut to Folly and buzzards.

Part 6:

Second half of Part 6 moves into The Unjust Skies (part 2 of Diana as now printed). And again a huge amount added in to provide structure and a trajectory that makes sense for Jan as a developing person

October 1939: he and Mary bidding adieu to their sadler’s establishment; he has paid for her to take a nursing training course; he has enlisted. She tells him he belongs here.

Eight months later, he is Lieutenant Leigh J supervising exodus — so this does follow book"   "my own sector of that shambles they called the evacuation of France."

This gives Davies a chance to make WW2-looking film. Too many people, not enough boats; 4th day major killed in air raid, leaving him in charge.  Delderfield does not account for this rise of Jan realistically; Davies does.  Semi-comic dialogue with a soldier, Sgt Bowles (Michael Mella) whose thrust is exactly that of Sgt Hooper and Charles Ryder at the close of Brideshead

People trying to flee France

A human chain of people filmed slowly: we hear bombs or thuds and lots of expected kinds of noise  We hear woman’s voice and see Diana: "Excusez moi. "Look sir there’s no need to be beastly …I’ve come to see Lieutenant Leigh …he’s a personal friend …" It’s all right, let her through and, with her, come five more children (pp. 357-78).

Diane suddenly appears, with five children in tow, demanding special treatment from her friend, Captain Leigh

Absurd patriotic ending of Part 1 or There Was a Fair Maid Dwelling just lopped off; instead we get a fuller development of where she tells him Yvonne his and we get this black silhouette escape of children, then Jan, with Diana kissing him and bidding adieu.

Now new stuff brought in again: an education segment; life in the UK during this war. Then the building of Heronslea seen from the side in the way of 1971 S&S; car driving up, French/Spanish children voices  "la casa .. la casa …" Out comes Miss Rogers (Drip); brought out of mothballs to run this establishment — all invented:  when Unjust skies opens Alison is dead and we have only snatches of what went on before.

 In the film Miss Roger doesn’t know how she’s going to manage; all invented creation of school … There’s cook … girl from village very young no training at all … Advertise in The Lady, do you think?  he’ll organize a staff… little Yvonne (Kathryn Grant) is very like her mother, don’t you think?  A long scene between Miss Rogers and Jan summing up meaning of his experiences thus far: an enthrallment, something worth while. What bothers Jan is not her desertion:  "No it’s the way she’s used me the way she always uses me …"

Time out for interview process. This occurs in a number of his films, from To Serve Them All My Days (1980) to South Riding (2010). Mrs Eggers (Rosalind Knight) the type Davies thinks usually gets the job exposed as a bully who is nonetheless desperate. Then Mrs Alison Hill (Lynne Miller) who is bad at interviews.  Key:  Jan identifies.

Jan interviews Alison

Mrs Hill:  "I’m terrified of horses … " Jan:  "Part teacher part nurse maid part maid of all work and a fair bit of mothering thrown in do you think you could cope with all that?"  She "I don’t know." Jan:  "Not exactly brimming over with self- confidence.  She:  "I’m not very good at interviews:" He " No you’re not are you, still neither am I … headmistress speaks highly of you.  Does that surprise you?"  Mrs Hill:  "She spent a lot of time [telling me] to be more strict .. thing is I didn’t mind that .. my class was noisy but they learned as much as the other ones .. they were happy  …"

Jan:  "I’d like you to tell me a bit more about yourself, Mrs Hill, you’re a widow aren’t you?" She: "Yes that’s right .. he was run over by a lorry. Jan:  "Oh I’m sorry. She: "It doesn’t really matter how it happens does it? … every night they get out the photo album  you see if I don’t get out now and start living my life I’m never going to." (Strong anti-heroism realism.)

So again identification in the interview is the key to being hired "I’ve upset them a lot Bryan’s parents but I’ve got to do it ..  Jan: "Well you might find it a bit quiet here, there’s not many young people about (same pretend objection as in To Serve Them and South Riding) She:  "I couldn’t be lonely here with the children I think I’d like it here." Jan:  "Good."

He works in headquarters. Jeremy Irons’ voice over:  "In that unreal time I found myself increasingly living for my visits to Heronslea, the place itself, the sense of hope the children gave me, Yvonne and more and more the thought of seeing Alison Hill again …"

Alison’s long soliloquy now of evil gremlins, e.g., "I tried to believe in it but I couldn’t if there is any God He is making a terrible mess of things isn’t He? He   "It’s just chance .. not so bad once you get used to it." She: "How do you explain good things ? chance doesn’t have to be bad … you don’t have to be the way you are …"  Davies no longer does this kind of thing; he has an equally long soliloquy given to Diana just before she marries Jan about religion.

Miss Rogers helps the affair to flourish along by telling Jan of the headmaster Mr Ramsay’s interest in Alison, so jealousy can make Jan more alert.   Jan teaches Alison to ride; again dialogue with Alison, now about children and teaching, and now about her anger at husband for dying.  Out to dinner for the pair of them; theirs a conventional love but nonetheless as consistently meaningful, maybe more for Jan in his central selfhood than Diana:

Dinner date, WW 2 style (they are the only couple in the restaurant)

They come back to dark hall, minor key version of theme music: "You don’t have to go back to your : little cold room if you don’t want to .. "you’re sure …" "oh yes"  In bed and naked under sheets after sex: it’s so nice I’d almost forgotten how nice it is."

Morning and he’s up and dressed.  He’s up and dressed He: "Looking at you thinking" She "Not bad thoughts I hope.:
He: "No Quite serious thoughts. She: "Look you can go if you like it must be dreadful waiting around. You’re very gentle, you must go now if you want to, I wish you’d say something."

Then it comes:  " Would you marry me, Please? (just perfect words for him there then) She looks serious and theme song comes in. We remember his overlooking Mary, his bad behavior to Madeleine, how Diana deserted him, and we wish all the best for them.  All invented, all beautiful.  But swirling still around Diana, for he wants Alison as a barrier.


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Dear friends and readers,

As I wrote last week (letter 26), this is a second letter written in the high spirits of expecting her friend, Martha Lloyd.  I was struck by how strong Austen’s tone of flow and sweep : she may produce of imagery showing alienation and nastily debunking but she is by and large wholly throwing herself into what’s happening all around her (in this instance a ball).  Two people alternatively read Jenner’s pamphlet on cow pox (She is present at a sort of group reading of Jenner on cow pox inoculation), while Jane bestows her attention on all around her; a little later she exults:  "I say nothing, & am ready to agree with anybody."  There’s Frank’s promotion and her real eagerness for letters. She loves to write and read them — it makes me remember Johnson on dreaming company when we others and in solitude.

Jane begins with saying that Cassandra’s letter has taken her by surprise.  When Jane says, "you are very welcome" I take it that Jane has done something for Cassandra which Cassandra thanked her for, and partly paid back in the form of a letter.  Jane also says she is obliged to Cassandra. I don’t think this is about the letter specifically but something Cassandra did too.  Only 8 days have gone by since the last letter but still there are missing letters.

So Cassandra didn’t want anyone to know what Jane did for Cassandra and how she Cassandra reciprocated.

Jane (Olivia Williams) and Fanny (Imogen Poots), enjoy themselves drinking wandering in the grass, mocking the men through the window at Godmersham

Unfairly scolded like a child by a rigid Edward Brydges (Hugh Bonneville)

The real problem is the next morning’s hangover (as she tries to take some elegant breakfast)

I suggest Jane literally means what she says that her hand is shaking because she drank too much wine the night before.  (This detail is taken into Miss Austen Regrets where during a visit to Godmersham Jane drinks far too much and the next morning appears to have a hang-over when she goes to pick up her breakfast, and her hands tremble then too.) It’s a "venial error" and Cassandra will "kindly make allowance" for the indistinctness of Jane’s hand.

I’m glad to see Jane does not make the kind of great fuss over drinking so common today — partly today it’s a result of how dangerous it is to be drunk when driving and how much we drive in cars.

Yes the brother Charles is "naughty" because he did not come home on Tuesday but delayed one more day (Wednesday, yesterday).  Austen just loved to go dancing and she says that Charles "being equal to such a fatigue" as coming home "is a good sign"  (appreciated by her)  "& his finding it no fatigue still better."  She wants him to accompany her and dance away.  And so he did.

"We walked down to the Deane to dinner, he danced the whole Evening, & to-day is no more tired than a gentleman should be."

Emma’s sheer delight (Romola Garai) at finding herself at a ball (2009 Welch Emma)

Dancing wtih Frank (Rupert Evans), as yet unaware that Harriet (looking on) is become a wallflower

Then the next 40 of the around 50 more lines she wrote on Thursday are devoted to this ball.  She appears to have had "a pleasant Evening," though it did not exactly awaken any kindness in her towards the people she met.  She guesses Charles found it pleasant because a young woman, Miss Terry, whom he apparently mistreated in some way was not there.  Did he snub her at the previous dance? Jane danced 9 out of 12 dances and she gives a full enough account to merit the famous reproach of Mr Bennet to Mrs Bennet. They started at 10 in the evening and got back to Dean at 5 in the morning. Quite a night’s outing.  She names 3 partners ("very prodigous") and one she liked best of all: "Mr Marhew." She calls these young men her "little stock."

Then she turns to the woman and she is really catty.  I know critics go on about this imagery but I see in it alienation and jealousy that reminds me of the abrupt unfair comments she often makes about other people’s novels she’s reading. Miss Iremonger did not look well; Miss Blount much admired but has a broad face, diamond bandeau, white shoes, pink husband & fat neck. One Miss Cox has the remains of the vulgar girl Austen saw at Enham 8 years ago, the other refined like Catherine Biggs (so there’s a good word, but for a friend). The woman with the animal neck. 

Diane asks what Jane can mean by Mrs Warren getting rid of some part of her child. I assume she corseted very tight (she is described in the next phrase as "looking by no means very large").  Maybe she had looked like she was going to be very big the last time Jane Austen saw her and has not become as huge as expected.  But (lest Cassandra admire) Jane says Mrs Warren’s husband is "ugly enough, uglier even than his cousin and but at least "does not look so very old" (accent on "very" I suppose).

The ex-father-in-law patron has the gout, Mrs Maitland the jaundice (all yellow does Austen mean?), three young women all in black, like statues and Jane as "as civil as their bad breath would allow" She learned nothing new of Martha from them and this provides a transition.

If Martha does not come, she Jane will go to her on Thursday morning (I expect the next Thursday is meant here; it is a confusing passage, perhaps something was scissored away), unless Charles comes with a friend, Shipley and then she’ll go to another ball first. She seems to need a male to go with her.  Jane says if she does not go to this second (in this letter) ball she will not be so uncivil as to leave for home at the same time the neighborhood is going elsewhere. This I assume is hunting or riding, neither of which Austen did. I assume this is a wry joke.  The neighborhood is uncivil in leaving her behind but she will not do so herself in turn.

Now she reverts to the above ball again and we see some background to her reaction to the way the other women looked. Mary Austen said she looked well and she wore her aunt’s gown and handkerchief (the rich one who stole things anyway, perhaps a present?) and her hair "was at least tidy," which was all her ambition.  In other words, she did not over-dress at all as did the others. While I assume she was not envious since she is choosing to dress plainly, not go into racking fusses over her hair, it’s human nonetheless to feel some resentment at those who choose to dress up as they will form the norm not her.

Mr Bennet would certainly be glad of this line:  "I have now done with the Ball." She "moreover’ goes to to dress for dinner.

And continues later that evening. There follows a long account of gossip overheard earlier that night, an ironic account of a day spent at Ashe the previous Monday which would be November 17th.  Who talked, who gambled, who became lovers, the reading of Jenner’s pamphlet with Austen "bestowing" her conversation on anyone who would listen. She writes away a thicket of gossip details. She seems again to have enjoyed herself mightily (her tone seems to come out of this evening) and is not this time inclined to write down nasty cracks. No one "stole" anyone else’s partners. Perhaps too the older Jane feels less threatened to exposure when the dancing ended.

The details that might have some significance for Austen. That it was brother, James, who read the pamphlet aloud.  Mrs Clerke corrected all the blunders Mrs Heathcote made in her retelling local news. "Blunder" is the word Frank Churchill uses in Emma when he forgets that it was Jane who told him of Dr Perry. There was a game of commerce (like there are games at MAnsfield Park).  Austen regales Cassandra with James Digweed’s long distance flirtations ("two Elms fell from their greif at [Cassandra’s] absence Digweed said.

A pleasant passage showing Austen really did care about the trees. She was not just posturing. Hacker putting in fruit trees,, a new plan for the enclosure, maybe they will  make a new orchard. I like the way she names them all simply in the manner she does in her novels:

"a little orchard of it, by planting apples, pears, and cherries, and whether it would be larch, Mountain-ash and acacia."

The relatives having the usual petty squabbles, and Austen gayly brushes over this:  I say nothing & am ready to agree with everyone."  If Cassandra did offer an opinion, it would leave her feeling worried lest she give her sister what turned out to be bad advice.  Cassandra has had enough bad advice over her suitor (she was to wait for him and now he’s dead).

Childham, a walk near Godmersham today

And then she imagines Cassandra and family at Godmersham and finds them "droll" — an absurd party too. Cassandra and the little boy, George walking to Eggerton. (why not? she Austen walks.)  Do the Ashford people come in a cart? She informs Cassandra it is Cassandra who dlisked Mr N. Toke, Jane dislikes his wife and Mr Breet but does like Mr Toke better than most.

Why we are not told.

By association she moves on  to Miss Harwood and her friend who took a house 15 miles from Bath (cheaper than in it?). Miss Harwood kind but send no news of the man who shot himself. The "particulars of the situation" might also be (probably is) not about the shot man but the house she and friends took in Bristol for themselves.

I wonder if Austen yearned to be with them.  Why didn’t she join in?  money probably. but then maybe Austen is not really eager to throw herself into such a perpetual round of half phony relationships.

And Jane meant to close the letter here with Charles’s best wishes and Edward’s the least — this may be a tease to Edward. (He has not lately been too John Dashwoodish) or he may be self-deprecating (I doubt this last form all Jane wrote in the extant letters). If Cassandra find this improper, let her take the worst (Edward) herself and leave Charles go.  Charles will write from his ship.  All written in a dry humorous or wry vein

Austen meant to end here, but later that night added a sort of postscript and then on Friday morning another:

There is another line where we are told that Charles likes Jane’s gown and then a sort of postscript (in effect) written upside down — somewhere between Thursday evening and Friday.  Since it seems to me probably she finished the Thursday evening journalizing quite late, the paragraphs suggest someone writing after mid-night or before dawn.  Frank has written and knows of his promotion now, from Larnica in Cyprus. He was also in Alexandria, Egypt where he wrote Cassandra. He is careful what he writes because he knows that the mails are corrupt; the Viennese gov’t has its spies and hand what passes through the post office. Nonetheless, Frank was a faithful correspondent to his sisters both.  He too has been destroyed — his adventures, comments, often written concisely, wiped out from memory.  Austen is not satisfied.  Since Frank wrote Cassandra twice, he now must send Jane (who writes him).  How this woman likes getting a letter, loves writing them and reading them — she revels with others in solitude.

Again Miss Austen Regrets, Olivia Williams as Jane at Godmersham stealing time to write (probably Emma which she has brought along with her).

Henry is to come for one night only — he has his business, his London life, his wife. 

And yet more of the gossip about people from relatives.  Mrs E Leigh tells of how is going to Bath, perhaps glad to say something about aristocrats. I note that in this tiny paragraph what Austen says she values is the nature of someone’s character: Mr Sloane a "young Man under Age … He bears a good character however.

Friday sometime:  Austen will go to Martha next Thursday but wait for letters first 🙂 Again her eagerness for these missives.  Perhaps Cassandra asked and Jane replies that Charles looks very well (not affected by time at sea is probably the issue). Then one last catty remark: the "fat girls with short noses" who disturbed Jane at the ball are the "Miss Atkinsons of Enham."

Henry Austen said Austen never said or thought a mean thing. It’s true her exemplary heroines don not make personal remarks or talk snobbishly and mostly do not think in these ways (Emma is excepted), nor does her narrator in the novels indulge in petty remarks. Her venom is mostly directed at "serious" targets like say Mrs Ferrars; and when aimed at Maria at her phoniness and seething with hatred herself.  But Austen the writer of the letters does.

There is this disconnect between the writer in the letters and the writer in the novels.  This has often been remarked upon.  I take it that some aspect of Austen’s mind (like many other authors in this) is released when she’s imagining so she goes well beyond what her conscious mind understands and sympathizes with (especially in the area of psychology and character creation, dramatic scenes). If asked to comment on this our of her reasoning mind, she uses conventional formula which get nowhere near what she has created.

See 1&2, 3&4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9 , 10, 1112, 13, 14 , 15, 16 & 17 , 18, 19 , 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26.


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