Jane Austen Updated
December 28, 2010 § 2 Comments
It was Jane Austen’s birthday recently. She turned two-hundred-and-something. I am aware of this because approximately half of the blogs I subscribe to have discussed it at length in virtually every post for the last month.
That makes it a bonafide blog trend, and far be it from me to pass up the chance to be in fashion.
So here is my take on the subject. Miss Austen may be two-hundred-and-something years old, but we’re still reading her six perfect novels, and we’re all still talking about her as if she is God Among Novelists (she is). The downside to being so widely worshipped is that we can’t seem to leave those books alone.
I’m not going to try to list every single example of Jane Austen Updated, because we would all be here all week: a mere glance at the numbers of sequels, rewrites and sagas set in the Austen Universes is enough to give one a bout of nausea, and I’m not going anywhere near Lost in Austen.
I’ve selected a mere four to applaud/eviscerate/stare at with confusion and mild revulsion.
Clueless: Emma in High school. Oh god. Transposing the plot of ‘Emma’ to the weird, twisted world of the American High School sounds like disaster from the start. And I admit that I wince from time to time. However – ignoring for a moment the fact that ‘the heroine which no one will much like’ is a concept that has been very successfully recreated – this film is funny and amusing. It’s almost alarming how well the major themes of Emma translate to a modern setting.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Not a title to augur much. I admit that I haven’t read this: I’m not usually one to pass up the prospect of a good joke, but I am somewhat nervous about this one. Has anyone read it? Is it amusing or blasphemous? Clever or a cheap gimmick? Whatever else it is, it’s certainly a novel way of updating a classic.
I bought this on a whim. I used to enjoy the ‘create your own adventure’ books as a child, so I couldn’t resist this one. It is a fun read. You begin the adventure as, naturally, Elizabeth Bennet. Your mission: to marry for both love and wealth. You will navigate a series of adventures, meeting characters from any of the six novels and frequently failing utterly, abjectly and miserably in your goal. (At least, I did: apparently I make a very poor Austen heroine. How sad is that?).
My fourth and favourite: Jane Austen’s Fight Club. I don’t know who created this, but whoever you are, you are made of genius. Watch it all the way to the end, please: it’s worth it. Try not to die laughing.
We were no longer ‘good society’.