Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Evolution of the Classic

By Jodie

The fascinating and frustrating thing about classics is that they almost never stay static. Other writers pick them up and mess about with them in ways that infuriate, or enliven readers.

As we discuss the good old classic here at Estella's Revenge I thought it might be fun to look at the how one of the world’s favourite classics has been altered, extended and recast. Welcome to Meryton 2.0, full of all the usual Bennety goodness, but with plenty of surprises more shocking than Kitty’s shotgun wedding.

It may not be universally acknowledged that a classic written by Austen must be in want of a sequel but you’d never realise that if you search Amazon for novels related to Pride and Prejudice. There are a huge amount of sequels and re-imaginings based on Pride and Prejudice, all listed at the online book giant Amazon. One sequel, ‘Mrs Darcy’s Dilemma’, has previously been rated by a reviewer at Estella's Revenge.

Every Austen fan on the web seems to be alarmed about the news that a supernatural version of Pride and Prejudice is set to be released. 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' turns the Bennet sisters into head kicking zombie killers in skirts and petticoats. Personally I think it sounds just a bit awesome. There’s already been discussion about a possible movie, although the book won’t be released until April. This is one costume drama the boys will beg to see.

And it’s not just zombies dropping in on the Bennets without introductions. Rocket Pictures has decided to revamp their Predator franchise by placing their hideous monster into the Regency period. Will Clark, the film’s director said ‘Pride and Predator’ felt like ‘a fresh and funny way to blow apart the done-to-death Jane Austen genre’. Purists, prepare to shudder.

One author has decided to continue the supernatural twisting by tinkering with Austen herself. Michael Thomas Ford has signed a deal for a series of three novels about Austen rising as one of the undead . Vampiric Jane is upset about all the money other people are making from her novels and starts biting back in revenge.

British TV series ‘Lost in Austen’ features some pretty extreme plot changes, which I found much harder to swallow than a hoard of zombies rampaging through Longbourn. As much as I loved the heroine, played by Jemima Rooper, the idea that Elizabeth might not be the perfect partner for Darcy slightly appalled me. Sam Mendes plans to make this into a film, which seems a little pointless. Expect it to make lots of money for the corporate types.

My favourite alternate version of Pride and Prejudice has to be the fun, Facebook page set up recently See what the main characters would have been said and done if they’d had access to social media . Elizabeth gets on much better with Facebook than she does with text culture as this comic strip shows.

If you love the trend of classics reinvented as comics then search out the Marvel edition of Pride and Prejudice. Then, if you still haven’t had enough why not see the musical based on the book? There are no zombies, the plot ends happily ever after and there’s a whole song based on that famous first line. It might be just the tonic you need after your boyfriend brings home ‘Pride and Predator’ on dvd.

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