Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Jane Austen -- Regency's Stephen King?
Me, I like it when life is silly sometimes. Gives me an extra reason to laugh. Case in point: The recent best-selling novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which takes Jane Austen's perennial favorite as an opportunity to tell the tale of good Regency boys and girls having to wrest with the vexing problem of brain-devouring undead.
Some call this "metafiction" or simply "alternate history." While not disputing either of these fine categories, I prefer the rather more mundane and in mine own humble opinion slightly more accurate designation of "silly."
And huzzah for that! One thinks that perhaps a tad more silliness is precisely the called-for ingredient in days of Great Recession, spurious deceits amid the body politic (i.e. Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, etc.) and general worry about an influenza associated with the common boar.
Hence I am hardly one to complain that a further work of quasi-adaptation vis-a-vis the justly well-regarded Jane Austen is en route to book store shelves even as I pen this missive. The title of which I speak is none other than Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and the good author of this work -- or, somewhat more precisely, the late Miss Austen's post mortem colloborator -- has stated explicitly what seed of imagination brought forth his endeavor. He has proceeded from the conceit that in her life an interesting partnership might have arisen as a writing venture between Austen and the American writer of somewhat similar sensibilities (i.e. those of the Georgian Era), Mr. Howard Philips Lovecraft.
Very silly indeed. One half-expects a member of the Monty Python troupe to appear in regimental uniform decrying the effort and demanding a cease to such writings at once.
Dear Reader, it is my hope that you will forgive my own desire to see such a trend continue rather than surcease. Indeed, should any budding author be so inclined, herein I present one possibility that seems to me brimming with potential merit.
The Werewolf of Northanger Abbey would, in this humble poster's view, make a worthy addition to the tomes now contemplated. One can easily imagine the lovely Catherine Tilney (nee Morland) happily wed to the Vicar whom she loves, dwelling in their home not far from her father-in-law's estate, the aforementioned Northanger Abbey. When still unwed, you may recall, Catherine had let her imagination run wild upon visiting that estate and falsely concluded that her host's refusal to allow her to visit one wing of the Abbey evidence he had murdered his wife. Upon learning, in circumstances likely to leave a lasting impression, of her error she has continued to enjoy gothic novels yet tempers such with a realization that their subject matter remains fiction. With her feet metaphorically firmly attached to the ground, let us suppose her reaction to genuine supernatural events occurring within her life. Suppose, for the sake of good story-telling, that her un-named Viscount brother-in-law (to whom Eleanor Tilney is now wed) was somehow swept up into strange and mysterious goings-on. Could it be that a curse lies upon the Tilney name? Might such a curse find manifestation in some horrid metamorphosis over which the Tilney offspring -- Frederick, Eleanor and Catherine's beloved Henry -- can exert no control?
How might Catherine respond to such events? How else but by the most intense belief that nothing that might be termed occult or supernatural could possibly be taking place! Is not her innocence and naivetee a thing of the past? All this talk of lycanthropy and men that become beasts are surely nothing more than the confluence of random but rational coincidence. A wild dog of unusual size. Witnesses suffering from their own fears coupled with an overabundance of spiritous liquors. Gossip among the very young. Methinks the still-youthful Mrs. Catherine Tilney might venture to show her unwillingness to believe such nonsensical chatter by confronting the so-called Beast in its lair.
One hopes her ravishment is avoided, or that it proves swift in its end.
Although one might speak on behalf of what some call the "twist" conclusion, in which Catherine survives her own defilement and perhaps joins her much-loved Henry upon the moors, chasing the helpless travellers in that desolate area and feeding upon their warm, wet, red flesh to her delicate heart's content.
Hey, if you want it, take it. I officially give anyone who want to the rights to make of this outline whatever-ya-want. Heh heh. Just send me a copy?