Commentary – Etiquette Guide for Ladies.


The original text, Complete Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen cannot be officially dated, but its publication can be placed within the period of 1914-1952, due to the mention of an English King at the throne and the inclusion of commercial air travel which first started in 1914 It is interesting that this text, is fiction as more frequently adaptations are based on non fiction text due to their greater creative potential. Despite this, the creation of a modern blog, in which to transform the text into something unrecognisable to the the original text creates not only a new reading experience but a new audience.


Whilst the audience for the original text would have been predominately middle/upper class educated ladies, this blog styled website aims to attract a wider more generalised audience where the parody nature of the site could be interpreted and therefore appeal to a wider class of young women.


It is argued that although nowadays that e-books can digitalise source texts through different media, ‘the e-book is arguably not much else than a reanimation of the printed book’[1], the blog can offer a participatory function and the creation of an emergent narrative, which ‘happens when a system allows for reciprocal interaction’[2] where we (as the readers) ‘feel ourselves part of the system’.[3] Creating an emerging narrative, where the reader therefore has the power to navigate themselves around the narrative has in this case been created through the use of a blog.


Through the use of different menu tabs, the blog navigates the reader throughout the original chapters in the book in a way that can be controlled exclusively by the reader, therefore creating a guide that is personalised to them. This function, however does not detract from the structure of the original text, and whilst looks entirely modernised, the format is still representative of the source text. Hutcheon notes the importance of this as she states, ‘for an adaption to be successful in its own right, it must be so for both knowing and unknowing audiences’.[4] The ‘knowing’[5], are those who have prior knowledge of the source text and the ‘unknowing’[6] are defined as those who do not know that they are reading an adaptation.


With this in mind the amalgamation of original and new copy can be defined by the use of italics. The subtle integration of the 20th century text throughout the use of italics can therefore be adapted without distracting from the aesthetic purpose of the blog. This also allows the blog to function without obvious features to both the knowing and unknowing audiences.


A similar attempt to create an online etiquette guide has also been presented in the form of a blog which can be found at However, the convoluted use of new media with an archaic format and appearance, doesn’t sustain a narrative as there is no form of reader engagement through navigation. The static nature of the site, makes this very hard to read and therefore doesn’t appeal to a digital audience.

[1] Weedon, Alexis ‘Crossing media boundaries: Adaptations and new media forms of the book’. The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. Vol. 20, (1), 2014, pp. 109-124.

[2] Utell, Janine Engagements with Narrative. London: Routledge, 2015, p. (tbc)

[3] Ibid.

[4] Hutcheon, Linda and Siobhan O’Flynn A Theory of Adaptation. London: Routledge, 2012, p. 121.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Regency has taken retreat, Pride and Prejudice has been given an all-American modern overhaul!


Perhaps the most famous modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is the 2005 film version staring Kiera Knightly, however does this make it the best? I think not.


Termed by The Guardian as the ‘best Jane Austen small-screen adaptations’, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, is a modern, upbeat and highly addictive series of home video style vlogs by the leading lady herself, Lizzie Bennet.


True to the original, Austen’s Mr Bingley becomes the object of desire, yet is characterised to be the infamously rich single neighbour and trainee doctor, Bing Lee. Mr Darcy has also been given a modern twist characterised as an assumed ‘Dub Step Dj’ named just Darcy. Lydia, takes the form of the slutty younger sister whilst Jane and Elizabeth (despite the abbreviated name) remain true to their original regency selves, with a few modern twists. In fact, I believe that this adaptation has become so successful as despite the modern overhaul, this unfiltered feed remains true to the general narrative of the 1813 novel, as the concerns of marriage, morality and overbearing parents still remain current themes and concerns to 21st century women.


Pride and Prejudice has remained so popular since its publication to the current day because the of the characters created by Austen. Despite their then social constraints, they still remain relatable as they are at the end of the day teenage girls, troubled over relationships, a social normality that will never change. However, the use of technology here and viewer interaction via Facebook and Twitter, can almost make it feel like you’re involving yourself in a little piece of Austen as it really brings to life the original characters in a way that is interactive and true to the modern audience.


The vlogging style is clearly aimed and to be appreciated by the teenagers of the YouTube generation where talking frankly about life’s worries to an anonymous audience is the norm. Yet, I think that this is a style that is perfectly suited to the original as the reader also is fed a conscious stream of thought and information by Austen.


I also the fact that cleverly, archaic language has even been worked into the script for comedic value. Lizzie demonstrates this through the constant allusion towards Jane’s use of ‘feminine favours’. I think we all know what she means by that…


Initially when watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I immediately compared this to the film Easy A (which makes reference to the novel The Scarlett Letter). However, I believe that this adaptation is so much more successful as it encapsulates the entirety of the original Pride and Prejudice novel without the need for many changes or even direct reference to the original text and places it in 21st century society in a technological way which could be realistically achieved.