Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The New Yorker Hates P+P + Z--quel surpise

Macy Halford of storied high- intellectual rag The New Yorker thinketh not too kindly of our friend Seth Grahame-Smith's hybridization of genteel manners and the vicious undead.

The plot continues in this manner—Lizzie, Darcy, zombies, blah, blah, blah—until the end, and there isn’t much more to say about it, except to reiterate is awfulness. The experience of reading it is like taking a walk in a park on a beautiful day and knowing that a thunderstorm or something else deeply unpleasant (say, a zombie) might spring up at any moment and ruin everything. In this instance, the something unpleasant is Grahame-Smith’s writing. But perhaps I’m being too harsh: I met a fan of the book last weekend who praised it as “an intelligent fart joke.”

Yes, you ARE being too harsh m'dear, but it's cool. The joke contained within Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' pages isn't for everyone.

The rest of Halford's piece ruminates on why there's such an attraction for Austen among the genre fiction crowd, judging at length that said attraction is caused by the already-hinted at subtext of scandal and seduction within Austen's novels--see Churchill and Fairfax's amour/Willoughby and Wickham's extracurricular activities. This may be true, or it may also be that Jane Austen is basically second to fucking Shakespeare in terms of recongizability in pop culture, and just as there have been sci-fi and horror Shakespeare takeoffs (Forbidden Planet anyone?), there will be Austen ones as well. Because that's what happens to popular stories. People want to own them. But critics are still hesitant to admit how much raw power Jane wields posthumously, cause she was a spinster and stuff. Sigh.

However however, the subtext question that Halford brings up is interesting.I'm reading Pamela, and I caught the end of Sense and Sensibility '95 on TV last night, and the combination made me recall what a wise prof once told me about Jane Austen. Pamela, like most early novels save a few, is all about the attempted seduction/rape of a virtuous young woman. Austen has that seduction plot in nearly all of her novels--but it's not the main plot. She moved the 18th century novel, to the margins, and put her class and marriage maneuvers/the growth of her heroines in the spotlight, and thus she is the perfect bridge between 1700s and 1800s fiction.*

*And also the best novelist evah. Booyah.

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