Lady Susan: Austen’s scheming and seductive anti-heroine

By The Economist online

JANE AUSTEN carries a lot of cultural baggage. “Austenian”, to some, brings up associations of ironic social commentary and eloquent drawing-room heroines. For others, it signifies a soaked Colin Firth, an obsession with matchmaking and tightly-corseted dresses.

Forget all this. It is Austen’s supposed predictability that is subverted by “Love & Friendship”, the first film adaptation of “Lady Susan”, directed by Whit Stillman. Written in 1795 but published almost a century later in 1871, the brief epistolary work is a satire of the tropes and narratives that Austen has become known for. Instead, “Love & Friendship” provides us with a manipulative, vain and conniving protagonist who is more than willing to give into temptation. These same moral failings make her a delightful, dynamic woman who, though causing chaos wherever she goes, is immensely likeable.

Lady Susan (played by Kate Beckinsale) first appears on screen dramatically fleeing the home of the Manwaring family. She has seduced Lord Manwaring, and he pursues her to her carriage while his distraught wife screams from the doorway….

Read more here:: The Economist – Culture