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Saturday, May 23

The Immortal Jane Austen, or Beam Me Up, Scottie, Our Popular Culture Has Gone Haywire

In 2010, The Immortal Jane Austen, the first installment of a series of books, will be published. Written by author Janet Mullany, this humorous book is "about Jane Austen in Regency England who joins the vampire resistance in Bath when England is invaded by French forces." The new immortal Jane is not to be confused with The Immortal Jane Austen by esteemed Jane Austen scholar, Maggie Lane, which is already in print and available in stores. In her serious endeavor, Maggie Lane discusses Jane's six immortal novels in terms of her life and imagination.

Our popular culture just can't get enough of Jane. We must sequel her books, satirize her stories and life, and twist her plots in shocking ways, as in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the recent best-seller by Seth Grahame-Smith. He is currently researching Abraham Lincoln, who he intends to turn into a zombie slayer. When reading about these new developments, it's all I can do to control my gag reflex. A colleague of mine spotted Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in The World of Mirth, a toy store in Carytown in Richmond, Virginia. Other items spotted in this establishment (which is truly worth a visit) are rubber chickens and Mr. T bobble head dolls. 'Nuff said. As long as these trendy endeavors make a boat load of money for the writer and publisher they will continue to be published.

Which brings me to this point: An agent, whose blog I ran across, thinks that this cliched opening statement of The Rules of Gentility by Janet Mullany, author of the forthcoming Immortal Jane, is brilliant, despite the fact that a variation of this sentence has been written a gazillion times before:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman of fortune and passable good looks amuses herself in London with fashion, philanthropic works, and flirtation until a suitable gentleman makes an offer. I consider the pursuit of the bonnets and a husband fairly alike - I do not want to acquire an item that will wear out, or bore me after a brief acquaintance, and we must suit each other very well."

If an agent, on whom publishers depend to separate the wheat from the chaff, thinks that this opening statement is noteworthy (while not mentioning that Pride and Prejudice is its inspiration), what does this say about the state of the publishing business? As for how the Mullany version of The Immortal Jane Austen will be critically received - stay tuned and see.


nigel said...

Vampire romance does appear to be gaining market share in the entertainment and literary fields.

Drinking someone else's blood is not new in our society! We do this every time we celebrate mass or communion.

Vic said...

Point well made, Nigel. In a metaphorical sense and historically we have always been fascinated with blood and gore.