Making Austen More Fun

10 Jul

There simply has to be plenty of people out there who were forced to read some novel or other by Jane Austen in their time and found themselves to be extremely bored by the lack of action and the tortoise-like pace (yeah, okay in the last few days I’ve pretty much dissed every book that, due to general profiling, I’m supposed to, but don’t, like. Hey, that’s what blogs are for!).

Well, Austen has had a well-needed 21st century revamp…. well, sort of anyway. Step in Quirk Books and their crack team of co-authors readying to deliver a better sense of when things actually happen into a bunch of novels that have only ever previously delivered on social commentary of the 18th century.

Yes there’s nothing like a bunch of rampaging zombies and a gang of ugly sea monsters to liven up your average Austen day!

Some of you are probably thinking that this is basically the murdering and flogging of two classic novels that didn’t need anything added to it in the first place: well, rest assured, they haven’t actually tampered with the stories that much. For those of us that are familiar with the works of Austen, the co-authors haven’t taken a single element out of the original books: all of the events, trips, marriages, deaths, money troubles and socially awkward situations are still there except this time there’s added danger.

The brilliant thing about these books though is that the extra bits with zombies and sea-monsters written in nearly exactly the same style as Austen, so it still has that 18th century regency feel. I think this gives the books a real edge. In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the battle scenes are interwoven with other elements of the story, and with the added threat of an impending attack by the undead, the events take on a new life.

However, they’re not books I would recommend to younger Austen readers. Better off giving these to teenagers, since there’s a strange level of eloquent ultraviolence added in to them that gives you odd images in your head, not to mention the beautifully drawn yet cartoonish illustrations that are given to some of these scenes. On the other hand, if you were a teacher and had a class full of boys who were forced to learn Austen then you could do a lot worse than use these as an introduction: grab their attention with the violence, point out that very little of the story has been changed, move on to the fact that the depictions of the scenes and some of the characters (e.g. Captain Brandon as a hideous sea monster in Sense and Sensibility) are more graphic representations of the personalities and chracters that Austen depicted as metaphors in the original novels.

More than anything though these books are just good reads that are light and fun for those lazy days or long trips. And that’s the best kind of companion you can have in those situations!

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One Response to “Making Austen More Fun”

  1. thoughtsappear July 10, 2010 at 12:43 pm #

    I never read Austen’s version of Pride and Prejudice–I’m not sure how I ended up with an English degree and managed to avoid it.

    With zombies though, I managed to pick it up!

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