Jane Austen and the Undead

Where did this trend come from?

An extensive 5-minute internet search produced the concept of mash-ups, which I hadn’t heard of previously, but apparently are the result of combining one song and style with another… I thought these were remixes. I like the word “mash-up” better. It describes quite well what happens to the original song in a remix. Transpose this lyrical concept to literary and we have a whole new range of “throw-away” novels to spend money on.

Is this just a commercial venture to earn a few poor authors and their publishing companies etc a dollar or two? Did the idea for this come only from the desire to stop starving in a garret and have the cash to purchase non-generic brands of baked beans?

I have no idea, but here’s my take on the situation.

Northanger Abbey. Published in 1818. Filmed in 1987 as part of Screen Two and starring Katharine Schlesinger as Catherine Morland and Peter Firth (Harry from Spooks) as Mr Henry Tilney. I hadn’t noticed it with the actual book, yet this film adaptation could easily have inspired a raft of Jane Austen meets classic gothica tales. It reeks with it. (Note here that I haven’t seen the 2007 version as yet).

I don’t recall the heroine’s imagination having her being kidnapped by rogues in her nightgown and carried away to creepy gothic castles so obviously a reread is in order. In the 1980’s film adaptation though it happens regularly. Catherine sits perched in a tree in a country field while her imaginary herioine is off having adventure. You know the kind; assault, rape, held against her will… The innocent damsel eventually enters a dark bedchamber and an oversized bed. The handsome rogue whisks his black cape from his shoulders and unmasks his face. Her lips part in trembling desire; nightdress slipping from one shoulder, bosums heaving she leans into his smoldering kiss…

Carry this theme on a little more, turn the rogue into a vampire/zombie/sea-monster from hell (they are in the seaside town of Bath, after all), and there you have it; a new range of literary follies.

Whole libraries of novelistic classics can be retreated to appeal to fans of the Undead. “Of Mice, and Men and Banshees” perhaps or “Moby Dick and the Sand-Gorgons”. How about, “Watership Down and Out in Hades”?

Now, what can we do with an old “Larry and Stretch” western?


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