While romance isn’t a genre I tend to seek out in novels or films, I just saw a film adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma, released early this year. The most beautiful scene in the film is arguably when Emma (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) and George Knightley (played by Johnny Flynn) fall in love with each other while they are dancing together in a highly structured line dance, where the men and women face each other then weave around to the music, affording very little time for private conversation. As they dance together for about five minutes, you observe them falling in love through their facial expressions and very brief moments of hand holding, which they prolong for brief seconds before they are swept up by the movements of the other dancers. Seeing this film and thinking about romance as portrayed in Austen novels reminded me of an episode of Radio Boston entitled “Remembering Jane Austen, 200 Years Later,” which was hosted by Meghna Chakrabarti and aired on 7/18/17. In this program Susan Greenfield, professor of literature at Fordham University, and Whit Stillman, a film director, engage in a very interesting discussion of the timeless appeal of Jane Austen and debate her politics as revealed in her novels. In addition, professor Greenfield makes a fascinating observation about romantic love in Austen’s novels, pointing out that the heroes and heroines fall in love in spite of the fact that they actually spend very little time together, illustrating that their perceptions of each other may be based more on their own imaginations than actual experience interacting with each other. The professor stated that in teaching Austen she asks her students to think about modern relationships in light of this point.
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