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James Fairfax by Adam Campan
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James Fairfax (edition 2009)

by Adam Campan, Adam Campan

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1621,036,606 (4)1
A gender-play experiment using Jane Austen's beloved classic novel Emma -- an alternate Regency where gay marriage is commonplace and love is gender-blind. Matchmaking Emma Woodhouse tries to find a suitable spouse for her lover Harriet Smith, and is embroiled in the secrets of the relationship between the mysterious and accomplished James Fairfax and the handsome Frank Churchill.… (more)
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(This duplicates my review on LJ.)

Genderbending and gender flips are popular these days, whether it's putting Disney princesses in their princes' outfits or designing gender-flipped casts for movies. One interesting example I came across recently is James Fairfax, a retelling of Jane Austen's Emma, by Adam Campan.

In this retelling quiet, reserved secondary-character-with-a-secret Jane Fairfax becomes James Fairfax. That's change no. 1. But the story also posits that progressive Enlightenment thought and the affections of certain royal personages has resulted in same-sex marriages becoming legal and, by the time the action of the story takes place, widely accepted.

Campan weaves information that establishes the resultant differences in expectation and behavior into Jane Austen's prose, so that this alternative reality seems entirely natural for the times. For example, when it comes to dancing,and dancing partners:

Young ladies, unless secure in their powers of attaching partners, much preferred a bal nouveau, as the new rule permitted women to ask partners to dance. Thus no woman must sit at the side wishing to dance, given enough possible partners in attendance.
and later:

James was on the other side of the room, being pressed to dance by Miss Anne Cox and the eldest Miss Cole, who were pushed aside by Mr. Thomas Cole, who wanted a fast and boisterous male partner for the gavotte. The girls went off to take their place in the forming line, followed by James Fairfax and Mr. Thomas Cole.

Because same-sex attachments are not an issue, Emma's distress over Mr. Knightley's possible romantic interest in Jane Fairfax translates easily enough when her friend Mrs. Taylor suggests the same possibility regarding James Fairfax:

“Mr. Knightley!--Mr. Knightley must not fall in love!”

“Why not? You would deny him happiness?”

“Oh! No, not at all.”

“Well, then. Surely you are not a traditionalist?”

“I am only a traditionalist in believing that one must marry for better reasons than one’s admiration of another’s playing of Bach ... Mr. Knightley in love? Mr. Knightley marry? No, I have never had such an idea, and I cannot adopt it now.”
It's a wonderful conjuring, this past in which same-sex courtship and marriage are simply not an issue. It made me a little wistful, reading it!

If you're intrigued by this type of literary play, and if you enjoy Emma, I highly recommend it.


( )
  FrancescaForrest | May 12, 2014 |
(This duplicates my review on LJ.)

Genderbending and gender flips are popular these days, whether it's putting Disney princesses in their princes' outfits or designing gender-flipped casts for movies. One interesting example I came across recently is James Fairfax, a retelling of Jane Austen's Emma, by Adam Campan.

In this retelling quiet, reserved secondary-character-with-a-secret Jane Fairfax becomes James Fairfax. That's change no. 1. But the story also posits that progressive Enlightenment thought and the affections of certain royal personages has resulted in same-sex marriages becoming legal and, by the time the action of the story takes place, widely accepted.

Campan weaves information that establishes the resultant differences in expectation and behavior into Jane Austen's prose, so that this alternative reality seems entirely natural for the times. For example, when it comes to dancing,and dancing partners:

Young ladies, unless secure in their powers of attaching partners, much preferred a bal nouveau, as the new rule permitted women to ask partners to dance. Thus no woman must sit at the side wishing to dance, given enough possible partners in attendance.
and later:

James was on the other side of the room, being pressed to dance by Miss Anne Cox and the eldest Miss Cole, who were pushed aside by Mr. Thomas Cole, who wanted a fast and boisterous male partner for the gavotte. The girls went off to take their place in the forming line, followed by James Fairfax and Mr. Thomas Cole.

Because same-sex attachments are not an issue, Emma's distress over Mr. Knightley's possible romantic interest in Jane Fairfax translates easily enough when her friend Mrs. Taylor suggests the same possibility regarding James Fairfax:

“Mr. Knightley!--Mr. Knightley must not fall in love!”

“Why not? You would deny him happiness?”

“Oh! No, not at all.”

“Well, then. Surely you are not a traditionalist?”

“I am only a traditionalist in believing that one must marry for better reasons than one’s admiration of another’s playing of Bach ... Mr. Knightley in love? Mr. Knightley marry? No, I have never had such an idea, and I cannot adopt it now.”
It's a wonderful conjuring, this past in which same-sex courtship and marriage are simply not an issue. It made me a little wistful, reading it!

If you're intrigued by this type of literary play, and if you enjoy Emma, I highly recommend it.


( )
  FrancescaForrest | May 12, 2014 |
Showing 2 of 2
The time is perhaps ripe for a gay/lesbian take on one of Austen’s novels. One could imagine, for instance, a young Edmund or Edward Woodhouse—handsome, rich and opinionated—who finds himself after various misadventures drawn to the excellent Mr. Knightley. Whether dealing with a hero or a heroine, one could in such a novel explore some aspects of Georgian and Regency sexuality: the secretive, but not yet illegal world of gay men; the more anxiety-provoking ideas of incest, as expressed both in the popular novel The Monk and in the public’s attitudes towards Lord Byron’s alleged affair with his half-sister; the Ladies of Llangollen; the Hell-Fire Club and so on. A novel such as this would require research, reflection and creativity.

To produce a “gay romance” it is not, however, sufficient to take an e-text of Emma and use the global “search and replace” function to change “Jane Fairfax” to “James Fairfax,” transform “Mr. Weston” into “Mrs. Weston” and have that wealthy and genial widow woo and win Miss Taylor, who upon her marriage to Mrs. Weston rather confusingly becomes Mrs. Taylor, turn all the “she saids” to “he saids,” and then dust off one’s hands and call it a day.
added by AustenBlog | editAustenBlog, Allison T. (Aug 3, 2009)
 

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A gender-play experiment using Jane Austen's beloved classic novel Emma -- an alternate Regency where gay marriage is commonplace and love is gender-blind. Matchmaking Emma Woodhouse tries to find a suitable spouse for her lover Harriet Smith, and is embroiled in the secrets of the relationship between the mysterious and accomplished James Fairfax and the handsome Frank Churchill.

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It's same-sex marriage in Jane Austen's Regency England!

In this stunning, gender-bending, stylish dance-of-manners version of Jane Austen's beloved classic novel Emma -- an alternate Regency where gay marriage is commonplace and love is gender-blind -- matchmaking Emma Woodhouse tries to find a suitable spouse for her lover Harriet Smith, and is embroiled in the secrets of the relationship between the mysterious and accomplished James Fairfax and the handsome Frank Churchill...

[retrieved 2/7/2015 from Amazon.com]
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