Okay, here’s something many people don’t know about me: one of my favorite books of all time is Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”. The first time I remember reading it was in a discarded volume of her published works, shortly after high school. I still have that volume, and that novel is still my favorite of all her works. (“Sanditon” would have to be second, even though she didn’t finish it; someone else did.)
There is something about this story that captures my imagination more than just about any other book. I have a few versions of the movie, even bought the DVD edition of the BBC production when it came out because my VHS copy was getting worn. I bought an illustrated set of Austen’s novels when Oxford University Press had them for sale at a deep discount. I have a free audio book version of the novel, too, downloaded from Project Gutenberg and loaded onto my MP3 player, as well as the free ebook version downloaded onto my smartphone.
But it’s the print retellings that I wanted to talk about here. I am far from being a fan of zombie books, but “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is one of the funniest novels I have read in some time. (I tried reading “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters”, but couldn’t get past the quarter mark, it was so awful.) The prequel, “Dawn of the Dreadfuls”, is almost as good; the sequel, “Dreadfully Ever After” is not, but it’s still readable and nowhere near S&S&SM levels. So kudos to the author and editor who pursued that line of thought. Might even watch it if it ever became a movie. One evening at the library, a mother and her son came in for it on the recommendation of his high school English teacher, because he just couldn’t get into reading the original. I think I reassured the mom somewhat when I agreed with the English teacher’s suggestion. Hey, if that’s what it takes to get kids to read, why not?!?
The latest retelling I’ve been diving into is a manga version of the story. The text has been changed to more modern language and there are a few other changes to streamline and make the story more understandable to the modern reader (for instance, Charlotte Lucas no longer has a younger sister). Of course, with manga, it’s really all about the illustrations, right? And this one is fun. I’m really enjoying this version, and I’ve only just reached the Rosings Park scenes. I have to say that this version induces fewer cringes re: the actions of Mrs. Bennett and Lydia (Kitty and Mary are drawn but rarely heard from so far). Maybe it’s because their comments more blatantly say what they mean, rather than the more subtle method Jane Austen used originally. In any event, if you know someone who just can’t get into early 19th century speech, this manga version might be the way to go. My thanks to Ralph at Comics and Paperbacks Plus for ordering this for me! 🙂
Ralph also helped me collect all the issues of the comic book version of “Pride and Prejudice” put out by Marvel. What I found most fascinating about this version was how they did the covers: each one was a different style, some like a modern magazine cover. (Really? “Bingleys bring bling to Britain”?? Ha!) Some people had a problem with this, but not me. I don’t think the story is boring, why should the covers be the same ol’ same ol’? I think the editors did a great job of condensing this version to fit the format. The artwork is beautiful throughout the issues. I liked it so much I bought the other titles in the series, too.
All of these versions are great ways to introduce younger readers to this story. Forcing people to read a novel just because it’s a classic and “they have to” is no way to turn kids or adults onto the wonderful world of reading. Make it fun, make it something more on their level, and suddenly it’s less of a chore and more of a “hey, can I read that?”
And for those who think Jane Austen has little to do with the modern world, I highly recommend the book, “A Jane Austen Education” by William Deresiewicz. I read his book long after I was already a Jane Austen fan, but his observations were entertaining and informative.
Have there been any written retellings that I didn’t like? Not that I can think of. But if you know of one or more than I haven’t included here, please share!