Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Jane Austen and the Undead
Around this time last year, I was in the thick of writing my master's thesis on Jane Austen and her enduring popularity. My main idea was that Austen had become a pop culture icon, supported by several adaptations, remakes and at least a library's worth of tribute novels. (If you ever find yourself in the Rollins College library, please make it a trip downstairs to the Archive Room and visit my thesis. I highly doubt it gets many visitors.)
If I working on my thesis today, I would probably feel the need to include the very recent phenomenon of the intersection of Jane Austen and the recent vampire craze started by the Twilight series. Austen fan-dom has cropped up all kinds of books, from high-brow wit almost worthy of Austen herself to glorified romance novels. However, the books that have come out in the past year have been almost exclusively featured Austen characters as monsters, vampires and even zombies (a quick Google search of Jane Austen vampire brought up 497,000 results.)
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies came out about a year ago, just as I was wrapping up my thesis, so I did not include it. This book entwined Austen's words with some added stories about zombies. I have not had the chance to read this, but it's apparently a very popular book.
Jane Bites Back came out last December is about Austen herself living as a vampire and taking revenge on the writers who copy her works. Even though I don't usually like vampire anything, I do like the tongue-in-cheek aspects of this book and it looks like it might be a fun read.
One thing I did note in my thesis was that Austen's books were often molded to suit the tastes of the day. Her plots and themes are pretty universal and easily adaptable. So while the vampires and the zombies may not be what I think of when I think Austen, I can definitely understand this recent change in Austen-mania.