Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In Which Jane Austen Would Say, "Badly Done"

I'm sure you have heard of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Then came Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters

And now there is a tidal wave of classic literature meets the paranormal:

Mansfield Park and Mummies by Jane Austen and Vera Nazarian
Emma and the Vampires by Jane Austen and Wayne Josephson
Emma and the Werewolves by Jane Austen and Adam Rann
Jane Slayre by Charlotte Bronte and Sherri Browning Erwin
Little Vampire Women by Louisa May Alcott and Lynn Messina
Little Women and Werewolves by Louisa May Alcott and Porter Grand
Romeo and Juliet and Vampires by William Shakespeare and Claudia Gabel

I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a couple years ago. I bought it because my husband loves zombies and I love Jane Austen, and I believed it was the perfect union of our obsessions. It made me laugh.

But then I read it. The title and cover were more clever than the execution. It was 75% Jane Austen's book and 25% zombies woven throughout. Really, the zombie mayhem became redundant because the only plot driving it forward was the plot that we all know and love.

But the worst of it - I felt like a friend had returned after a long vacation tatooed all over so that I could hardly recognize her under all that ink. Yes, Mr. Grahame-Smith, what did you do to my friend?! Those that do not read Jane Austen will pick this up and become acquainted with what isn't really her.

It makes me sad. If Pride and Prejudice was a religion, I'd call it irreverant. There is a difference between fanfiction and taking the actual text and warping it into something it was never meant to be.

Now, these books are very popular, so I probably don't share my opinion with too many. I am sure that in the end, the real classic will outlive these "fake" classics. However, if someone goes and gives Marilla a taste for blood or sticks a merman fin on Gilbert (DON'T get any ideas), they will pay. Yes, they will pay.

(Next day: Please be sure to read Vera Nazarian's kind response in the comment section.)

11 comments:

  1. " . . .or sticks a merman fin on Gilbert"

    *starts making furious notes*

    "(DON'T get any ideas)"

    *stops*

    Oh . . . dang.

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  2. I've never read any of these books. Writing a zombie book myself, I didn't want to mess up my perspective by reading somebody else's take on zombies. I can't believe how many people are jumping on that same band wagon though.

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  3. LOL! Sorry you had to endure that tattooed nightmare, Jessie. I was afraid the book was like that so I stayed away--though I was sorely tempted! (To use an Austenism.)

    Thanks for sharing--I totally agree with you. The first person to mess with Gilbert Blythe might get my wrath and yours if no one else's!

    Cheers,
    Jackee

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  4. I haven't read any of them, nor do I intend to. I wouldn't want someone to make-over something I'd written like that.

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  5. Dear Jessie,

    I am the author of Mansfield Park and Mummies.

    First of all, I want to say upfront that you have every right to feel the way you do about mash-ups in general, and to respond as your heart dictates.

    However, I ask you to consider for a moment that each mash-up is an individual work, different from the others, and should be judged absolutely on its own merits -- because nearly every one is written by a different author and published by a different publisher.

    As for myself, I love and adore Fanny Price, the often least-liked and most misunderstood Jane Austen heroine. I give many of my reasons for writing the book in this interview over at Jane Austen's World.

    If you would like an actual taste of the book, here are the first three chapters that you can read for free, and then decide for yourself.

    I put all my heart into writing this novel, and I dearly hope you don't prejudge my work, sight-unseen.

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to speak.

    Cheers,

    Vera Nazarian

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  6. I've never had any desire to read these books since I'm not a big fan of fan fiction. I wonder if the people who are reading them have actually read the orginals or not.I like my favorite books to stay in their original form. I'm kind of purist that way.

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  7. I think the original authors would have a sense of humor about these works and would be glad for them, because they will lead yet another generation into appreciating their work.

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  8. Personally, I'm not the least bit interested in these mash-ups, but I can understand that a lot of people are. As long as they are popular and sell, more of them will be made, and as lycanlibrarian says maybe they will lead a new generation to the originals. My fear is that the new generation will think it doesn't need to read the originals since it read the mash-up.

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  9. I'm sure they're fun for a lot of people but it's just not my thing. People who are looking for a way to read the classics mixed with something they'd see on a videogame is fine with me. Just not for me. And not to sound mean, but I definitely will judge a book by its cover and by its artwork and by its title because that's how I pick books.

    I love Austen's characters too and I would love it if she'd had time to write a dozen novels, but she didn't and what we have is what we have.
    Wow. Guess I'm opinionated on the subject eh?

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  10. Hmmm . . . I didn't even know about these. Is it horrid to admit that I only learned about Fan Fiction this past August because my sister was reading some. Yeah, I don't think I'd read them either. Just not my thing.

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  11. Everyone has their own tastes when it comes to writing, reading, music and movies. Who are we to judge? If it doesn't hurt anyone, and it makes them happy, then isn't that the point?

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