by Chris Bertram on February 18, 2006

JAAIS is short for Jane-Austen-Adaptation-Inauthenticity-Syndrome. Sufferers can be of either sex, though most are female. The symptoms are a craving to see the latest TV or film adaptation of a Jane Austen novel, accompanied by anticipatory worries that “I bet it is going to be awful”. If the victim watches the adaptation at home, perhaps on a rented DVD, she feels the compulsion to keep up a commentary on the inauthenticity of the costumes, performances, location and on unwarranted departures from the original novel. “Mr Bennet was never at that ball!” or “They would never have done _that_ !” or “She’s far too old!” are standard remarks. There is no known cure.

I had to help someone suffering from a particularly bad case of JAAIS last night. When we then played the “alternate US ending” to “Pride and Prejudice”:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0414387/ — the awful extra syrupy gooey ending that was demanded by test audiences in Des Moines — I thought I was going to witness a seizure! No doubt the special super-schlocky ending was inflicted all over North America, so that even unsuspecting Canadian JAAIS sufferers were caught.



Laura 02.18.06 at 4:25 am

There is a cure. It is called Colin Firth.


Jimmy Doyle 02.18.06 at 4:32 am

There’s also a bizarre ‘inauthentic’ strain of JAAIS, manifested by bitter complaints in the Sun that the recent Knightley/McFaddyen version of Pride and Prejudice had inexplicably omitted the famous scene in which D’Arcy emerges from the lake.


Laura 02.18.06 at 4:43 am

…emerges from the lake, clad in white samite, clutching aloft a sword…



George Junior 02.18.06 at 4:45 am

“test audiences in Desmoines”

Shouldn’t that be Des Moines?

[it is now. CB]


John Emerson 02.18.06 at 7:14 am

I’ve proposed an alternative-history version in which Jane Austen (as Elizabeth Bennett) marries Friedrich Nitzsche (as Mr. Darcy). Nietzsche was the Darcy type and, his early misadventures with Lou and Cosima aside, often made quite a good impression on women. (Source: Gilman, “Conversations with Nietzsche”).

I doubt that this would have been good for Jane’s novelistic production, but the philosophy produced by a less tightly-wound Nietzsche might not have required the reader to pretend that about a third of it wasn’t even there. (I admired “Ecce Homo” when I was on drugs and smashing the state, and perhaps someone is declaring it to be his most important book even as we speak, but in the last analysis I think that we should conclude that he was nuts when he wrote it).

(It’s my understanding that the syphilis theory of Nietzsche has been replace by the self-medication theory — Nietzsche was an early advocate of the mind-brain identity, and dealt with his insomnia with godawful potions like chloral hydrate).

Yeah, I know that they lived in different centuries. Alternative, get it?


harry b 02.18.06 at 8:40 am

Am I the only person who thinks john emerson has a blockbuster in his head? If I were you I’d get CB to delete this comment, and write up the scenario, john.


Guy 02.18.06 at 10:53 am

Recent adaptation lapses have been minor compared to early Hollywood treatments: a 30s P&P had Lady Catherine encouraging E & D to marry.


Bill Humphries 02.18.06 at 12:21 pm

A friend described the major problem with many P&P adaptations is that Elizabeth warms to Mr. Darcy after she sees the size of his house.


Dargie 02.18.06 at 12:45 pm

There’s a similar problem which afflicts Tolkien fans. And Harry Potter readers. And, um… almost every author who has a fan base. No known cure.


JHM 02.18.06 at 1:07 pm

I don’t know enough to be offended by the wrong clothes in Jane Austen adaptations, but the deodorant commercial ending in the American Pride and Prejudice was one too many even for me.


lalala 02.18.06 at 2:56 pm

And yet apparently some British audiences, upon hearing of the existence of the American ending, demanded to get to see it for themselves.


Jonquil 02.18.06 at 6:31 pm

I take it you were sitting behind me when I watched the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma? Profuse apologies.

(hisses “He would NEVER have touched her shoulder with a naked hand!” and slinks off)


Russell Arben Fox 02.18.06 at 6:41 pm

“There is a cure. It is called Colin Firth.”

My wife agrees with Laura.


Tracy W 02.19.06 at 5:48 am

To be pedantic, the syrupy ending was apparently part of the original movie design, and was cut from most non-American releases after British audiences were apparently turned off by it.

Leaving a movie which was badly lacking in structure, giving me the distinct impression that the director thought the major point of the movie was the relationship between Elizabeth and Mr Bennet, and the whole Darcy thing was just a subplot.

The script sucked too.


John Emerson 02.19.06 at 7:31 am

Science tells us, even though Jane doesn’t, that below their demure surface of the Austen heroines raged the fires of boundless desire. Since people will complain anyway regardless, as we see here, we might as well have Blake Edwards do a lush, full-frontal version of one of the books.

Or maybe that should saved for the Arendt–Heidegger love story.


dave heasman 02.21.06 at 5:51 am

“a 30s P&P had Lady Catherine encouraging E & D to marry.”

That’ll be *the* 30s P & P with the only credible Darcy ever – Laurence Olivier.
Scripted by Aldous Huxley. And I can’t remember who plays Collins, but he’s a treat too.

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