By Shelley Cobb (auth.)
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Additional info for Adaptation, Authorship, and Contemporary Women Filmmakers
But these adaptations with the figure of the woman author in the text allow us to see the relationship, or, as I have been suggesting, the conversation, between the two authors as one that not only appropriates, rewrites, and embodies the literary author but also adapts, reflects, and asserts the authority of the cinematic author. As another textual figure of authorship, the woman filmmaker, then, can be and should be read into the text and as a text herself. By looking at Fanny/Austen in the text in connection with Rozema’s comments about authorship and adaptation, we can reread the self-authorizing narrative of Mansfield Park as a self-authorizing narrative of the woman filmmaker as well.
Much like Potter, who decided to ‘update’ the novel by bringing the end to the present and making Orlando’s child a girl, Rozema ‘updates’ Mansfield Park through several changes. It has been widely recognized that, in addition to Austen’s biography, letters and juvenilia, Rozema’s Mansfield Park draws on various contemporary scholarly rereadings of Austen’s novels. These include, most obviously, Edward Said’s postcolonial analysis of empire as central to Austen’s novels, and slavery in particular to Mansfield Park, but also Margaret Kirkham’s feminist revision of Austen’s novels through the Enlightenment feminism of Mary Wollstonecraft, as well as Deidre Le Faye’s reading of Austen’s letters to Cassandra in terms of ‘Austen’s homophilic fascination with women and passionate homoerotic bond with her sister’ (Aragay, 2003: 182).
Near the release of her film in 1999, she would not criticize specific Austen adaptations, but in later interviews she did: Patricia Rozema: At the beginning of my draft I had written, ‘This ain’t no garden party’ because I dreaded doing another kind of little genteel nostalgic celebration of politeness. I don’t want to criticize Sense and Sensibility because it had something good about it. It’s my favorite one. I didn’t much care for Emma at all. Interviewer: It was a little too sweet. Rozema: Like a little.
Adaptation, Authorship, and Contemporary Women Filmmakers by Shelley Cobb (auth.)