Pride, Prejudice, and… Polidori?

After my recent post about steampunk vampires, I started pondering other literary places that vampires have not been and yet should.

A stroll through your local bookstore has probably caused you to cross paths with an new book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Seth Grahame-Smith. The book which was released in April 2009, is a parody of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that is interwoven with tales of a zombie outbreak.

Frankly, I think many people might shy away from this book because of the gimmick. Others might be die-hard Austen fans and feel this is an offensive vandalism, or at best, a tasteless joke. Still others might be fans of the horror genre but not of 19th century literature, especially a romance. I echoed some of these sentiments at first, but then realized it is those very reasons that compelled me to go ahead and give it a listen. I can’t give a proper review of the book yet, as I have only just recently begun listening to the Audible audiobook version. However, I can say I enjoy what I have heard so far, despite my initial misgivings.

Furthermore, there might be those afraid of the abuse of a public domain classic, whether they be fans or not, and fear this gimmick might catch on. This got me pondering about Jane Austen’s works and whether the recent vampire resurgence could form a perfect storm for some new penny dreadfuls.

It seems to me, and I can’t be the first to make this observation, Jane Austen’s infamous Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, would make an interesting vampire. Further it doesn’t take much convincing that he could be compared, at least superficially, to John Polidori’s vampyre antagonist, Lord Ruthven. Apparently I’m not alone. A quick Googling unearthed FOUR upcoming novels that have cross-bred Jane Austen and vampires like a tinkerer in a fresh grave. Two of which portray Mr. Darcy as a vampire. The other two suggest that Jane Austen herself was a vampire.

Up first, is Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, by Amanda Grange, available August 11th, 2009. This novel is intended to be a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. After the marriage of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, Lizzie discovers the dark secrets that Mr. Darcy has been keeping from her.
Here’s a link to a brief review and preview excerpt from the novel.

Later in the year, on December 1, 2009, we’ll have Darcy’s Hunger: A Vampire Retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, by Regina Jeffers. As the title suggests, this one takes the lead from Grahame-Smith, and reinterprets Pride and Prejudice to include vampires, portraying Mr. Darcy as a Dhampir trying to end his family curse.

Following close on their heels, on December 29, 2009, Michael Thomas Ford offers up Jane Bites Back. This one is a contemporary novel that is the first of a planned trilogy which features Jane Austen as a 200 year-old vampire.

How did she become a vampire? Perhaps the novel, The Immortal Jane Austen, by Janet Mullany, can answer this question in the summer of 2010. In the first of at least two books, we find Jane Austen joining forces with vampires who are fighting against a French invasion of Bath, England.

What horrors hath Seth Grahame-Smith wrought with his Regency-era zombie hunters? Only time will tell. In the meantime, he is moving on to a new novel, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, expected in April, 2010. He sure has a knack for great book titles and interesting mashups.

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