Journal Article

<i>Lost in Austen</i>: Adaptation and the Feminist Politics of Nostalgia

Alice Ridout

in Adaptation

Volume 4, issue 1, pages 14-27
Published in print March 2011 | ISSN: 1755-0637
Published online August 2010 | e-ISSN: 1755-0645 | DOI:
Lost in Austen: Adaptation and the Feminist Politics of Nostalgia

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This article focuses on the ITV series Lost in Austen (Mammoth Screen Production, 2008). This series is an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, which is as self-consciously about adaptation as it is about Jane Austen. For example, at one point in the series, the contemporary character Amanda Price requests Darcy to enact a scene not from the novel Pride and Prejudice but from the BBC's adaptation of it. Thus, this adaptation offers a reading of its own processes of adaptation as it enacts them. The untold story of the film's central plot device—contemporary Amanda Price swapping places with Elizabeth Bennet—is, of course, that of Elizabeth's experiences in contemporary London. This story remains hidden below the surface of the television series but is just visible enough to trouble Amanda's assumptions that any woman would prefer to live in Austen's world rather than contemporary England. I ask whether this adaptation of Austen plays out a post-feminist nostalgia for pre-feminism or offers a critique of our current post-feminist moment by juxtaposing it with a pre-feminist (or, indeed, an emergent feminist) historical period. Through a close reading of this series, my article will attempt to explore the contradictory politics of what it is that the contemporary female viewer finds by getting ‘lost in Austen’ and interrogates the feminist politics of nostalgia.

Keywords: Lost in Austen; Jane Austen; feminism; nostalgia; adaptation theory

Journal Article.  7853 words. 

Subjects: Film ; Television ; Literature

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