If you are really a truth-teller you’d better be funny. (Fran Lebowitz)
The Morgan Library and Museum, in New York City, is currently running (as I write, that is) an exhibition titled A woman’s wit: Jane Austen’s life and legacy (November 9, 2009 to March 14, 2010) which displays their collection of Austen letters and manuscripts. Accompanying the exhibition are some videos. I’m not sure how long they will be maintained by The Morgan, but I will post links here. If they break, well then, I’ll remove them.
The main video is The divine Jane: Reflections on Austen – click here. It runs for about 16mins and comprises comments from 6 writers, philosophers or actors on their response to Austen, particularly but not only in relation to seeing the Morgan’s Austen collection. The people are (and I’ve attached links to their individual videos) :
- Fran Lebowitz (Fran Lebowitz: Reflections on Austen here)
- Harriet Walter (Harriet Walter: Reflections on Austen here)
- Cornel West (Cornel West: Reflections on Austen here)
- Siri Hustvedt (Siri Hustvedt: Reflections on Austen here)
- Sandy Lerner (Sandy Lerner: Reflections on Austen here)
- Colm Tóibín (Colm Toibin: Reflections on Austen here)
Fran Lebowitz doesn’t beat about the bush and is well worth watching. You can quickly see why she likes Austen! I like her statement on why some works date and others don’t (from the main video):
Any artist who has that quality of timelessness has that quality because they tell the truth. Jane Austen’s perceptions don’t date because they are correct, and they will remain that way until human beings improve themselves intrinsically, and this will not happen.
Her argument is that those works which date do so because “their ideas are wrong” not because the details date. All details date she says. In her individual video she says that “I don’t think Jane Austen is popular for the right reasons”. Now there’s something we could all discuss!