Eudora Welty was a great admirer of the novels of Jane Austen, writing in an essay that "Austen's work at its best seems as nearly flawless as any fiction could be." The influence of Austen on Welty's own fiction will be explored beginning next month with "Emma" on Friday, May 13, at 7:30 p.m. when the first of three film adaptations of Austen's novels will be shown on the grounds of the Eudora Welty House and Garden.
"We chose the 1996 version of Emma starring Gwyneth Paltrow to kick off the series," said Carolyn Brown, a biographer of Welty and state coordinator of the Jane Austen Society of North America. "JASNA-MS is organizing events across the state to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of the novel's publication. This screening will be a perfect complement to the many Mississippi book clubs that are reading Emma."
Brown will lead a brief discussion before each screening. "Both authors were concerned with family, class, sense of place, and the human experience in general, and we want to talk about those shared sensibilities," Brown said. "This series will also let us examine how literature is translated into film and the process of choosing what can be included and what has to be cut."
The Eudora Welty House and Garden and JASNA-MS are partnering with Crossroads Film Society on the series. "We are excited to be a part of this collaboration," said Crossroads president Robbie Fisher. "A major component of our mission is to bring international and domestic films such as these to the Deep South year-round, in addition to our annual Crossroads Film Festival each spring."
The Austen Film Series in the Welty Garden is free of charge thanks to grants from the Mississippi Humanities Council and the Jane Austen Society of North America. For Emma, the garden will open at 7 p.m., the program will begin at 7:30, and the movie will start at dark-about 8 p.m. The series resumes after the heat of the summer on September 9 with Pride and Prejudice and concludes October 14 with the Bollywood take on that same work, Bride and Prejudice. No reservations are necessary. In the event of inclement weather, the program will be held across the street in the McCravey-Triplett Student Center at Belhaven University.
"This series promises to be great fun for everyone," said Bridget Edwards, director of the Eudora Welty House and Garden. "Bring a chair or blanket and enjoy these delightful adaptations of the works of one of Eudora Welty's favorite writers in Welty's own garden."
For more information on the film series email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 601-353-7762.
The Eudora Welty House and Garden interprets the life of the internationally acclaimed author. Tours are by reservation Tuesday through Friday and the second Saturday of each month. The house is located at 1119 Pinehurst Street in Jackson and is operated by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.