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Jane Austen News – Issue 18

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? Pride and Prejudice vs. Jane Eyre As two of the most popular novels of all time, Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre have an incredible number of spin-off books written about them. Two of the books tipped to be summer bestsellers this year are Eligible – a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Steele – a modern retelling of Jane Eyre. But do they both work in the modern era? The Jane Austen News came across an interesting argument from Constance Grady writing for online magazine Vox, that argues that perhaps one of them does not. Pride and Prejudice gave us an enduring romantic comedy formula, and it’s easy to update it with only minimal tweaking here and there. You can’t do the same thing with Jane Eyre. Brontë wasn’t writing anything like a romantic comedy or a comedy of manners — she was writing a gothic romance that was also an aspirational marriage plot.   Jane Eyre never condemns the love story between Jane and Rochester, madwoman in the attic be damned. It does not function if the book does not believe wholeheartedly in the rightness of Jane and Rochester’s marriage. So when you try to turn Jane Eyre into a contemporary romance, you have to fight against either the gothic elements or the marriage plot. The results are uncomfortable. What do you think? Can Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre be translated into modern day settings? Or are the stories purely of their time? Lady Susan Gets the Ending She Deserves?

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