17 July 2009

Sense and Sensibility--and Sea Monsters?!

First, there was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Now there's Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, the latest literary spoof from Quirk Books to be published sometime in September.

Is this all the rage now? Are these tongue-in-cheek parodies supposed to spark renewed interest in the classics? Is it all a clever ruse to get the children from this PSP and Guitar Hero generation to actually sit down and complete their school reading list?

So what's next then? The Old Curiosity Shop of Horrors by Charles Dickens and 21st Century Cheeky Spoof Writer? Portrait of a Lady Vampire by Henry James and Another 21st Century Cheeky Spoof Writer?

Just wondering out loud.

I'm not against the whole thing, actually. Am no Jane Austen purist. I read most of her books (even the duller ones like Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park) and found the film adaptations of Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility a most refreshing alternative. Austen's nineteenth-century literary style can be quite suffocating and discouraging at times, but the themes and the situations of the characters are timeless. Even Alicia Silverstone as a modern-day Emma Woodhouse in Clueless was entertaining.

It just goes to show how enduring Jane Austen's works can be. So I guess the people in Quirk Books thought, okay, why not make Austen more hip and fun than she already is?

I have to confess that when I saw Pride and Prejudice and Zombies on a shelf in Fully Booked, I was stupefied. Then I started laughing. Read the first page and laughed even more. Although I wasn't quite sure at that time if the book was something worth buying. I mean, I've read a couple of literary parodies like Bored of the Rings and The Sillymarilion, but both were gifts, so I never had to spend on what I'd consider as novelty lit.

Books are so expensive already these days, and I'd rather pay full price for books that are the actual works of the writers themselves. But as I always safely say: To each his own. I guess if kids these days enjoy having Bronte, Austen and Dostoevsky with a bit of monster and robot action, well, there's a market for these books then.

I just can't imagine anyone reinventing Golding's The Lord of the Flies, for example. That novel is already brilliantly horrific, to begin with.


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