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“CRITIC, n. A person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him.”

Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

Heh, heh.  Remind any of you port-swillers out there of somebody?  It’s a fair cop.

A glass of wine with Terry Teachout!

Really, what could go wrong?

Joanna Trollope is to write a contemporary version of Jane Austin’s classic novel Sense and Sensibility, which will be published in autumn 2013.

It will form part of a series of six HarperFiction novels that will re-work Austen’s books, although other authors have yet to be announced.

“This is a great honour and an even bigger challenge,” said Trollope.

Trollope, whose novels include The Choir and Friday Nights, is to chair next year’s Orange Prize for Fiction.

“It’s a hugely exciting proposal to attempt the reworking of one of the best novels written by one of our greatest novelists,” she said.

“This is a project which will require consummate respect above all else – not an emulation, but a tribute.”

HarperFiction’s publishing director Louise Joyner, said: “Joanna Trollope and Jane Austen share an extraordinary ability to combine heart-rending plots with a social acuity which has powerful resonances for contemporary audiences.”

What exactly does it mean to “rework” the novel?  I can’t think of any definition of the term that doesn’t really mean “exploit”.

La Trollope say that her project is tribute, but I view it as more akin to grave-robbing.   And I can just see her strapping the Dashwoods down on the laboratory table, throwing the switch, waiting for the lightning bolt and yelling, “LIFE! DO YOU HEAR ME? GIVE MY CREATIONS LIIIIIIIIFE!!!”°


°Spot the quote, and shame on you if you don’t get it instanter.

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of the Plain of Abraham, fought in 1759 during the French and Indian War.  Although it resulted in a British victory and the fall shortly thereafter of Quebec, it also resulted in the death of General James Wolfe.

I mark the anniversary this year simply as an excuse to repost the famous rendition of the death of Wolfe by Benjamin West in 1770, one of my favorite paintings.  Indeed, at one time I could identify most of the people standing about in it by name.  (The fellah in the green coat on the left, for example, is supposed to be William Johnson, the brilliant British Agent for Indian Affairs, although I don’t recall whether he was actually on the scene.)

I also use the opportunity to note my continued irk over the fact that the producers of the movie Gettysburg ripped off this painting, lock, stock and barrel, in staging the death of General Reynolds – right down to the fellah leaning in from the left – without any kind of acknowledgement.  (Although West got off lightly.  The movie was downright profligate in its theft of images and settings from Winslow Homer.)

Greetings, my fellow port-swillers!

No, ol’ Robbo did not bother with the GOP debate last evening.  Instead, he could be found down at the ballpark acting as bench/first base coach in the middle gel’s debut softball game.

Owing to the heavy rains we had around here last week, the gel’s team had not even managed to get in a practice prior to the game.  Thus, having no more experience than tossing the ball around with ol’ Dad and one or two evenings of skills clinics, she stepped out on to the field in something close to complete innocence.  (To wit: When told off to play left-center, her first question was, “Where’s left-center?”)

I’m happy to say, however, that the experience was a positive one: The gel went 1 for 2 with a single, was hit by a pitch and scored two runs.  Playing shortstop, she also made a nifty leap to try and snag a bloop single that I think not even a seasoned vet could have got.  Oh, and we won.  (Fall Ball is supposed to be strictly “developmental” with no scores or standings kept, but you try telling the kids that.)

Between the two younger gels, each of whom has practice, batting practice and a game each week until the middle of October, ol’ Robbo is going to be spending a lot of time hanging around the ballpark.  But I don’t mind in the least.



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September 2011