March 11, 2013
issue of Time Magazine featured an interview with Tom Stoppard regarding
“Parade’s End.” Oscar and Tony winning Stoppard wrote a recent film version of
“Anna Karenina” for the screen as well as the five part wonderfully complex
series adaptation of “Parade’s End,” the novel by Ford Madox Ford—in actuality
a series of four novels combined into one unit. It’s considered one of the
greatest novels of the 20th century.
In the Time interview, Stoppard is asked if he was surprised by the affection people have for “Downton Abbey,” set in the same era. His answer is interesting. Apparently, “Downton Abbey” didn’t exist when he started writing his adaptation of “Parade’s End.” He simply loved the novel.
Brits adore reading and writing about aristocracy. But they are not alone--so do Americans and other nationalities. The fascination is with a code of honor and ethics that is antiquated but absorbing all the same because it is part of the traditions of a larger than life culture in a unique sociological context.
I confess to being quite taken by stories of British aristocrats myself. My one published historical novel is a Regency for which I enjoyed doing a great deal of research. It combines history and sensual romance. I considered Jayne Ann Krentz’s endorsement/blurb for TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS a great honor--a book now available in all e-book formats as well as print.
Let’s hope Tom Stoppard continues adapting great novels for the media because he does it so well. It’s not surprising that he deconstructed Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” into “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.”
As to “Downton Abby,” I have watched every episode with the utmost interest and attention as well, but there are serious flaws. Perhaps this series suffers from not being adapted from a quality novel as was“Parades’s End.” However, the “Upstairs Downstairs” style of drama makes for absorbing entertainment because character is key. The traditional aristocratic household still captures the interest and imagination of the common man.
We are not just interested in the aristocratic past either. How many people are following Kate Middleton’s pregnancy? The Duchess of Cambridge, a former commoner, is married to Prince William and considered one of the most influential people in the world.
What’s your thinking? As readers and writers should we be interested in the aristocracy?