Understand the controversy over the film Persuasion, based on the work of Jane Austen | Readings will bring together reports, interviews and reviews about the universe of books, authors and the publishing market.

It was only the movie “Persuasion” to be released on the Netflix platform for the controversy to take over the community of readers, especially readers, of the English writer Jane Austen (1775-1817). The TV, film and streaming critic of the American newspaper “New York Times”, Sarah Lyall, wrote a long article investigating the causes of many readers almost “fainting” in the face of the new adaptation of Austen’s sixth novel and others “abandon the game for good”. sofa” with disgust for the “freedoms” that gorge the filmic work.


Dakota Johnson plays Anne Elliot in Persuasion, a film based on the work of Jane Austen (Photo: Disclosure)

Photo: Disclosure
Dakota Johnson plays Anne Elliot in Persuasion, a film based on the work of Jane Austen



Film critic Dana Stevens of Slate magazine showed no mercy to British director Carrie Cracknell when she claimed that the film “Persuasion” would not only be “the worst Austen adaptation, but one of the worst films in recent memory”.

In Brazil, the film seems to have pleased neither the Greeks (critics) nor the Trojans (viewers-readers of Jane Austen). Psychoanalyst, writer and literary critic Fabiane Secches stated, in a text published in “Folha de S. Paulo”, about the film: “it is a weak work, with bad decisions, which is very far from the quality of the original material”.


Dakota Johnson plays Anne Elliot in Persuasion (Photo: Disclosure)

Photo: Disclosure
Dakota Johnson plays Anne Elliot in Persuasion



But why so much fuss over the adaptation of a work published in 1818, after the author’s death? First, Jane Austen’s readers form a community passionate about the author. “She is very kind. Her work is compared to a jewel”, said Adriana Sales, creator of the website Jane Austen Sociedade do Brasil, who from a reader became a researcher and translator of Austen’s work.

Professor of English language and its literature at Cefet-MG, Adriana mitigates the barrage of criticism of the film by stating that the adaptation is very welcome, mainly because it is a work with a high romantic charge and that brings up gender issues.

However, although he didn’t leave the couch, he saw some weaknesses in the translation of the book to the movie. Starting with the drama of the character Anne Elliot who, in the book, is a demure girl involved in intimate suffering for having refused the love of her life 8 years earlier. “This suffering is not portrayed, one cannot follow the pain of Anne Elliot”, analyzes the teacher, especially when Captain Frederick Wentworth returns to the village where Elliot still struggles with regret for having dismissed him.

Furthermore, the fourth wall controversy seems endless and has become one of the biggest points of contention among viewers of the adaptation. The feature in which the character speaks directly to the viewer via camera, according to Adriana Sales, is welcome and was positive, but at times it sounds very “forced”.


Adriana Sales, researcher and translator of Jane Austen's literature (Photo: Author's collection)

Photo: Author’s collection
Adriana Sales, researcher and translator of Jane Austen’s literature



The Jane Austen specialist also claims that the actor Cosmo Jarvis chosen as the young lady’s romantic partner is handsome and sober, but “did not get into character”, which is much more intense. According to her, some licenses are even necessary for an adaptation in order to modernize the basic text.

However, having Dakota Johnson running while an off with her voice read the note left by Captain Wentworth, “was not the best alternative” for the update of the work, evaluates the expert. “The letter is a climax and the rush made the text lose its charm”, suggests Adriana, who praises the exchange of the book’s autumn and winter for the film’s spring and summer, which even allows for more scenes valuing the beautiful film photography.

Adriana is an example of a passionate reader. She met the author during her undergraduate degree in Letters, in 1998, but only a little later, living in New York, did she acquire the entire Austen collection. The passion turned into research and, later, into translation. In 2008, she decided to create a Jane Austen Society of Brazil, like other countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom that maintain societies supported by the writer’s aficionados. “These groups are very organized and meet frequently at events about the author. In 2016, in London, I participated in one of these meetings with 850 paying people”.

In the country, the Jane Austen Sociedade do Brasil provides recent research on the writer and offers courses taught by Adriana herself on Jane Austen. The author silently moves a legion of readers, so much so that the featured work Persuasion arrived at the Tik Tok book club in August. Book Club Tik Tok Book Club averages 60 billion views.

>> List of 5 Jane Austen books

Who is this Jane Austen reading community

According to Adriana Sales, 95% of Austen’s readers in Brazil are women. What attracts so many women to the English writer’s nineteenth-century literature? “Although the books were written in the 19th century, the themes persist to this day. Jane’s heroines are in the foreground and the text crosses centuries and runs from the micro, which is the countryside of England, to the macro, which are universal female themes. “, explains Adriana. According to her, Jane can be considered a “protofeminist” for denouncing the situation of women at that time in her novels”, not to mention the way in which she brought innovations to the novel.


Ayla Nobre, Jane Austen's reader (Photo: Author's Collection)

Photo: Author’s Collection
Ayla Nobre, Jane Austen reader


Ayla Nobre agrees that there is an identification between Austen’s heroines and the readers of the 21st century. “I started reading Jane Austen when I was 15 and I read, simultaneously, Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë and they were two very different worlds. While Charlotte brought the supernatural and Gothic in Jane Ayre, Jane Austen writes about the most sensitive relationships”.

The distances between time – 19th century – and the setting – English countryside – were never insurmountable problems for Ayla. “No strangeness. When I started reading, I started to research about the author and the place where the plot takes place and of course it is a very different literature from Charles Dickens, although Dickens writes from England and also in the 19th century”.


Kami Girão, Austen reader and writer (Photo: Author's Collection)

Photo: Author’s Collection
Kami Girão, Austen reader and writer


When writer Kami Girão started reading Jane Austen, she was struck by the fact that the book was sold as a “novel” that seemed much simpler than she found in the plot: “I realized that the characters were complex and there was an irony fine in the text”. The irony and elegance of Austen’s text, by the way, influenced the author of the novel “Fisheye” and the book “Anamélia”.

The two are dodging the fourth-wall controversy and other licenses from the movie Persuasion. While Ayla is re-reading the work to see the film, Kami follows the critical stir from afar. “From what I’ve read, they got it wrong and maybe that wasn’t the film’s grip.” She cites, for example, Patricinha from Bevery Hills, as a filmic hit based on Austen’s work. “It was Emma’s best adaptation,” says Kami.



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