“Jane Austen: A Woman for the ’90s,” says the Everyman’s Library ad in Publishers Weekly. “She’s sensible, she’s persuasive, she’s proud. And she’s the hottest film property since E. M. Forster.”

Nineteen ninety-five is a bumper year for Austenites. A film of Sense and Sensibility, starring Emma Thompson, is slated to appear this autumn. The BBC is putting out a new version of Pride and Prejudice and has collaborated with Sony in an ungraceful adaptation of Persuasion (in their attempts to purify the movie of Hollywood sheen and give it an air of naturalism, the producers of Persuasion have too zealously ripped away the romantic gauze: the distressing results are an unappealing Anne Elliot, a pockmarked Captain Wentworth, a greasy-locked Benwick,...


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