Pastiche of Jane Austen’s Novels
The Use of Pastiche in Jane Austen’s Novels
Jane Austen is regarded as one of the best English novelists of all time. In fact, some critics have compared her to Shakespeare, and her six novels have inspired and formed the basis of various contemporary works of art. For instance, some authors use quotations from her novels, while others incorporate characters that are similar to hers. In fact, such prominent authors as Ian McEwan have used entire passages from Austen’s novels in their works.
In the preface of his novel Atonement, McEwan uses a passage from Austen’s Northanger Abbey: “Dear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have entertained” (McEwan, 2003, p.1). This quotation sets the tone for McEwan’s novel, making it a pastiche of Austen’s work. According to Gerard Genette’s theory of transtextuality, the pastiche between McEwan’s novel and Northanger Abbey can be defined in terms of paratextuality (Genette, 1997, p. 83).
However, Austen herself also uses the work of other writers before her to develop the plots and characters in her novels. For instance, Widmark (2011, p. 3) argues that Austen’s Northanger Abbey is a parody of the prototypical Gothic novel. Consequently, one can argue that some of Austen’s works are themselves pastiches of earlier publications by other authors.
Pastiche in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey
Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey appears to be a pastiche of Gothic novels. The novel was written at a time when English society was interested in Gothic themes (Widmark, 2011, p. 3). Though the novel was not published until 1818, Gothic novels were still popular at the time. According to Widmark (2011, p. 6), Northanger Abbey seems to reflect a lot of hypotextuality when compared to Gothic novels. It parodies and satirizes some of the most popular Gothic novels of the time.
In particular, Austen’s Northanger Abbey appears to be a pastiche of The Mysteries of Udolpho (Widmark, 2011, p. 3). Authored by Ann Radcliffe, the novel The Mysteries of Udolpho is a Gothic romance that was popular at the time when Jane Austen was writing Northanger Abbey. According to Butler (2006, p. 80), the similarities between the two novels are made evident given that in Northanger Abbey, Catherine, the main character, is used to develop plots and themes that reflect those in The Mysteries of Udolpho. For instance, when she visits Northanger Abbey, Catherine “takes the reader into the setting and plot of a Radcliffean novel of terror, mystery, and self-induced illusion” (Butler, 2006, p. 80).
Throughout her novel, Austen describes how Catherine reads various Gothic novels and internalizes the characters from them. For instance, she imagines herself to be a Gothic heroine, similar to the main characters in the novels she has read. Austen further shows how Catherine aspires to become a Gothic heroine. However, Austen parodies these very Gothic heroines by contrasting them with Catherine. Indeed, the stark contrast is made evident when Austen writes: “No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born a heroine” (Austen, 2000, p. 13). The reason is that according to the narrator of Northanger Abbey, Catherine’s life, including her character and family, could not support a heroine.
According to Jurtikova (2006, p. 15), Northanger Abbey is significantly different from the other works written by Jane Austen. One of the major differences between Northanger Abbey and other Austen works is that the novel seems to borrow a lot from other works. The explicit derivation may be attributed to the fact that the book was one of Austen’s first novels, so she was not yet a very accomplished writer. It could be argued that she was still learning, developing her literary taste, and experimenting with different writing styles. In addition, the parodying of Gothic fiction, especially of popular novels such as The Mysteries of Udolpho, can be seen as an attempt by Austen to latch onto the fame and recognition of other known writers.
Metatextuality and hypertextuality are evident in Northanger Abbey given the fact that Austen makes direct reference to several Gothic novels and authors. For instance, when Catherine arrives at Northanger Abbey, she keeps herself busy by reading novels. One of the novels she is described reading is, of course, The Mysteries of Udolpho (Austen, 2000, p. 27). Catherine’s friend, Isabella, also notes her interest in this genre of novels and recommends others to her. Austen tells the reader that Isabella offers Catherine seven Gothic novels: Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warnings, Midnight Bell, Necromancer of the Black Forest, Horrid Mysteries, and Orphan of the Rhine (Austen, 2000, p. 27).
The direct reference and mention of these titles makes it apparent that Northanger Abbey is a pastiche. At the time, critics thought that the titles mentioned by Austen were just a figment of her imagination. However, later in the early 1900s, historical research revealed that these novels did in fact exist.
Another instance of reference to Gothic writers and novels is seen in the conversation between Catherine and James Morland. James is seen telling Catherine: “Novels are all so full of nonsense and stuff; there has not been a tolerably decent one come out since Tom Jones, except the Monk” (Austen, 2000, p. 36). Catherine responds by saying: “I think you must like Udolpho”, to which James responds, “No, if I read any, it shall be Mrs. Radcliff’s” (Austen, 2000, p. 36).
Even though James Morland appears to be clueless about novels compared to Catherine, the literary heroine, it is not lost to the reader that Austen makes direct reference to other writers and their works throughout this novel. The question of whether her intention was to promote her novel or just to entertain her readers remains a bone of contention among literary critics. However, what is clearly evident, and what critics agree on, is that the mention of other writers and their works qualifies Northanger Abbey as a pastiche.
Beyond the references to contemporary Gothic titles, the theme of Gothic romance is also evident in Northanger Abbey. The intertextuality to this end is made apparent considering that, for instance, Gothic romance and Northanger Abbey treat marriage between the main characters as the major goal—not only of the lives of these individuals but also of the novel’s plot (Widmark, 2011, p. 4). For instance, over the course of the novel, Austen shows how Catherine falls in love with James Morland. At the end of the novel, her name changes to Catherine Morland, an indication of the fact that she has married the man.
Another link between Northanger Abbey and Gothic adventure is seen when Catherine leaves Bath for Northanger Abbey. For instance, she seems to be convinced that her Gothic adventure is beginning, something that she greatly looks forward to. She talks excitedly with Henry about the abbey, believing that it is “just like what one reads about [in the Gothic novels]” (Austen, 2000, p. 138). In other words, Catherine is making allusions to the Gothic novels she has interacted with in the past.
Pastiche in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park: Cinderella themes and fairy tales
Another instance of pastiche is evident in Jane Austen’s portrayal of themes common to Cinderella stories. It is clear that many artists write about the society within which they are living and that their works mirror the realities of that society; the case is no different in Jane Austen’s novels. Considering that she was writing in a society in which Cinderella stories held sway, it is only obvious that her plots and themes would be informed by these popular narratives. Moreover, Austen was a lover of theatre (Juarez, 2014, p. 4). During her time, Cinderella plays were common features in theatres.
Although fairy tale themes are evident in most of Austen’s works, Mansfield Park appears to be the most obvious version of this novelist’s Cinderella. The novel creates intertextuality between Austen’s works and previous Cinderella stories (Juarez, 2014, p. 4). The story is largely influenced by Charles Perrault’s Cinderella: The Glass Slipper (Juarez, 2014, p. 3). Perrault’s main character is a poor girl who is neglected by her own family and hopes that she will someday be accepted back into the fold by her family members.
The fairy tale element in Perrault’s story is made evident by the fact that the girl manages to overcome the various challenges in her life to find true happiness. Indeed, she overcomes her life’s obstacles to become a real heroine. The main character in Mansfield Park, Fanny Price, appears to be an exact mirror image of Perrault’s Cinderella. Like Cinderella, she is from a poor background. Again, like Perrault’s Cinderella, Fanny Price is neglected by her family and viewed as a kind of unnecessary baggage by various family members. The family members, and indeed other members of society, appear to only tolerate her presence in Mansfield Park out of pity.
However, it is important to note that Jane Austen parodies the fairy tale elements of the Cinderella story by making various subtle yet significant changes to her Mansfield Park. For example, she does not begin the story with the fairy tale opening line of “once upon a time….”. Furthermore, the prince who meets the poor girl and marries her, leading to her “happily ever after”, is missing in Austen’s Mansfield Park (Juarez, 2014, p. 5).
Another difference between Mansfield Park and Cinderella fairy tales is the fact that there is no fairy godmother in Austen’s work. In fairy tales, Cinderella is transformed from rags to riches through magic. However, the change of fortunes in Fanny’s case is anything but magical (Juarez, 2014, p. 6). On the contrary, exercise and a favourable environment seem to be the major reasons behind Fanny’s change of fortune. For instance, Edmund lends her one of his horses to help in her outdoor exercises. In addition, the departure of Maria and Julia from Mansfield Park weakens the forces opposed to Fanny’s happiness, with only Mrs. Norris, her aunt, left behind. Her hatred of Fanny is countered by the love shown by other people in the park.
Nonetheless, Cinderella elements are still evident in Austen’s Mansfield Park. For instance, Sir Thomas purchases a gown for Fanny, which she wears to Maria’s wedding. She is also given a carriage to attend her dinner at Mr. and Mrs. Grant’s residence (Juarez, 2014, p. 7). In this way, Edmund and Sir Thomas appear to play the role of the fairy godmother in Fanny’s life.
Unlike a literal fairy godmother, the villain in Cinderella’s tale is present in Fanny’s life. The villain in this case is Mrs. Norris, while Fanny’s two cousins play a supporting role in the villain’s schemes. The three gang up against Fanny. Like the evil stepmother in Cinderella’s story, Mrs. Norris works overtime to ensure that Fanny feels worthless, especially in the presence of her cousins. For instance, she is heard saying: “I am quite ashamed of you, Fanny, to make such a difficulty of obliging your cousins in a trifle of this sort” (Austen, 1998, p. 123). What she is trying to imply here is that Fanny should never refuse to do what is requested by her cousins.
Contemporary Pastiches of Pride and Prejudice
The novel Pride and Prejudice is perhaps one of Jane Austen’s brightest writings. Like most of her other books, the novel ends with the marriage of the heroine, creating a Cinderella-like “happily ever after” effect. The novel has had significant influence on contemporary writers. Consequently, various pastiches have been spun around the original story: Shannon Winslow’s The Darcy’s of Pemberley, Emma Tennant’s Pemberley, and Pamela Aidan’s An Assembly Such As This. However, P. D. James’ Death Comes to Pemberley remains the most vivid and obvious pastiche of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (Suarez, 2014, par. 5).
In fact, James acknowledges in the Author’s Note section of the novel that her book is based on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (James, 2013, p. ix). Critics have argued that Death Comes to Pemberley is a sequel of Pride and Prejudice, as James starts her story where Austen ends hers. However, in Death Comes to Pemberley, James takes precautions to ensure that her continuation of Austen’s story is not confused with a completion.
Hypotextuality and hypertextuality between P. D. James’ Death Comes to Pemberley and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
According to Genette (1997, p. 83), hypotextuality and hypertextuality are some of the characteristics that define pastiches in relation to their original texts. In this case, the newer text transforms, modifies, or extends the preceding text on which it is based. In effect, a pastiche author links his or her audience to the other text on which their book is based. To this end, P. D. James takes her readers into the world of Jane Austen’s characters, a feat she achieves by turning her book into a sequel of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
P. D. James’ Death Comes to Pemberley as a sequel of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
According to Genette (1997, p. 34), a sequel is used to continue the story of an earlier text. It can also be used to develop the themes found in an earlier text. When viewed from this perspective, it is clear that P. D. James’ Death Comes to Pemberley is indeed a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. Indeed, throughout her novel, James appears to recreate the world of the Pemberley residents from Austen’s original novel. The author then further develops the original story by introducing suspense and excitement with the help of a murder mystery (Suarez, 2014, par. 5). In effect, P. D. James adds the interest of a crime scene and a touch of mystery to Austen’s classic novel.
The plot in the novel Death Comes to Pemberley starts six years after the end of Pride and Prejudice, in October of 1803. At this time, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice have been married. The continuation of the plot is evident given the fact that the setting of the two novels is exactly the same. In Pride and Prejudice, Darcy and Bennet get married and start living in the Pemberley estate (Austen, 2014a, p. 200). In Death Comes to Pemberley, the family is still living in the expansive estate. The changes that have taken place in their lives during the six years between the settings of the two novels are made evident by the fact that Elizabeth already has a young son at the beginning of James’ story (James, 2013, p. 4).
In Death Comes to Pemberley, Elizabeth and her husband are making preparations for the annual autumn ball when the story begins; the party will take place the next evening at Pemberley. The guests in the house include Bingley and his wife, Jane. The revellers are just about to retire for the night when Lydia Wickham, Darcy’s sister-in-law, barges in with disturbing news (Suarez, 2014, par. 7). Hysterically, she informs the revellers that her husband, Wickham, has been murdered. In effect, Death comes into Pemberley through the murder of her husband. The peace and happiness that have been enjoyed by Darcy and Elizabeth since they got married in Pride and Prejudice is effectively shattered at the start of Death Comes to Pemberley. The family, and plot, is then drawn into the murder investigation that follows.
One of the major themes in Pride and Prejudice is family and marriage. In the sequel Death Comes to Pemberley, this theme is continued and further developed. The plot in the sequel revolves around the family and its involvement in the investigations of the murder of Wickham. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth ends up getting married to Mr. Darcy, her nephew (James, 2013, p. 54). It is this marriage that enters into the world of P. D. James’ Death Comes to Pemberley.
As a sequel, Death Comes to Pemberley maintains and develops the characters and plot lines of Pride and Prejudice. For instance, the reader comes into contact with most of the characters around which Pride and Prejudice revolves. They include, of course, Darcy and Elizabeth, as well as Lydia, the younger sister of Elizabeth. However, James brings death and agony to some of the characters in Austen’s novel. For instance, Wickham continues to be a character in Death Comes to Pemberley.
However, unlike most of the other characters who are developed “forwards” into the living world, James introduces Captain Denny and develops him “backwards” into the world of the dead; indeed, the character enters the scene as a bloodied corpse in the woods. In spite of their unceremonious entry into P. D. James’ Death Comes to Pemberley, Wickham and Denny still occupy centre stage, albeit posthumously for one of them, considering that the rest of the story revolves around the unravelling investigations into his murder (Suarez, 2014, par. 3).
Another consistency between Pride and Prejudice and its pastiche, Death Comes to Pemberley, is the setting around which the story is told. In Jane Austen’s novel, the hero and heroine, Darcy and Elizabeth, exit the scene at their residence in the Pemberley estate (Austen, 2014a, p. 201). In Death Comes to Pemberley, they enter the scene within the same estate. Darcy is with other guests in the house at Pemberley when he sees Lydia’s coach speeding from the woods into the estate (James, 2013, p. 5). The body of Captain Denny is found in the woods within the estate. In fact, most of the murder investigations that take place throughout the rest of the novel revolve around the Pemberley estate. The retention of the estate setting is a clear indication of the fact that Death Comes to Pemberley is a sequel to Pride and Prejudice.
However, the reader comes across new characters in the sequel to Pride and Prejudice, characters who were not present in the original novel. For instance, Elizabeth and Darcy have a young son in Death Comes to Pemberley, while they were just married and thus without child at the close of Pride and Prejudice. Another new addition is the murder detective, Adam Dalgliesh (Suarez, 2014, par. 9). With the addition of these and other new characters, P. D. James appears to be making an effort to give the story her own personal touch. For instance, Adam Dalgliesh is a common character who is present in eight of her novels; the personality and mien of this character is the sole creation of James.
P. D. James further turns the plot of Pride and Prejudice personal by introducing the new theme of death, a theme that is not central, and in fact may be totally missing, from the original Pride and Prejudice (Suarez, 2014, par. 5).
James has a penchant for detective themes, and the best way she could introduce this theme into her sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is by bringing Death to Pemberley. With the murder plot firmly in place, P. D. James can now bring her most beloved detective into the scene. Her twist of the original plot may be seen as her intention from the beginning of the novel. In fact, one may argue that she merely uses Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to give her otherwise drab story lustre and edge.
In fact, there is neither reference to pride nor prejudice as plots or themes in the sequel. However, this fact does not make Death Comes to Pemberley less of a pastiche of Pride and Prejudice. In fact, considering that P. D. James wrote the novel in her early 80s, at the twilight of her literary career, one may be forgiven to assume that the pastiche was out of her admiration for Jane Austen.
Paratextuality between P. D. James’ Death Comes to Pemberley and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
According to Genette (1997, p. 84), paratextuality comes into play when a pastiche reflects the main body of the text around which it is fashioned. Paratextuality is evident in similarities between titles, headings, and prefaces. Paratextuality is made clear between Pride and Prejudice and its pastiche, Death Comes to Pemberley, when one takes a look at the Author’s Note of the latter.
In the Author’s Note, P. D. James makes direct reference to Jane Austen and several of her works. The fact that the reference appears in the Author’s Note section makes it a paratext; however, the fact that P. D. James makes explicit reference to Jane Austen’s works brings about metatextuality between the two novels as well (Genette, 1997, p. 84). For example, James writes: “I owe an apology to the shade of Jane Austen for involving her beloved Elizabeth in the trauma of a murder investigation” (James, 2013, p. ix). Here, reference is made to Jane Austen and one of her main characters, Elizabeth Darcy. The reference creates an explicit connection between Pride and Prejudice and Death Comes to Pemberley.
Still in the Author’s Note section, P. D. James goes on to say: “Especially as in the final chapter of Mansfield Park, Miss Austen made her views plain” (James, 2013, p. ix). Again, here the reader sees direct reference to Jane Austen and, this time, to the title of another one of her works. The author continues to quote directly from Mansfield Park: “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can” (James, 2013, p. ix). By selecting this quote, P. D. James appears to be telling Jane Austen that she is taking her suggestion and will be embarking on a tale of guilt and misery. And true enough, she tells the story of guilt and misery with the help of Jane Austen’s characters.
In the same section, P. D. James says: “No doubt she [Jane Austen] would have replied to my apology by saying that, had she wished to dwell on such odious subjects, she would have written this story [Death Comes to Pemberley] herself, and done it better” (James, 2013, p. ix). Here, James appears to be aware of her place as an author who can only play second fiddle to Jane Austen. In addition, she seems to be admitting that Death Comes to Pemberley is a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. Austen could have written or continued to tell the story, and even done it much better. However, since she did not continue to tell it, James has taken it upon herself to complete the task started by Austen.
Contemporary Pastiches of Sense and Sensibility
Pastiches of Sense and Sensibility
As discussed previously, a number of books has been authored to continue the stories told by Jane Austen in her classic novels. Some of these books develop the stories and characters created by Austen, while others are just recreations and “interpretations” of her stories (Patchell, 2013, par. 1). For instance, Joan Aiken’s Eliza’s Daughter develops one of the minor characters in Sense and Sensibility. The story of Eliza’s Daughter is told from the perspective of a character who grows up in the last pages of Sense and Sensibility and reaches her teen years in the first pages of Joan Aiken’s story. In effect, Eliza’s Daughter becomes a sequel of Sense and Sensibility in its own right. Many other authors have also written prequels, continuations, and diaries of Sense and Sensibility.
Perhaps one of the most famous pastiches of Sense and Sensibility is Joanna Trollope’s 2014 novel by the same title. Trollope’s Sense & Sensibility is a re-imagination of Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (Patchell, 2013, par. 1). Trollope takes the characters from Austen’s book and locates them in the 21st century. In her novel, she tries to imagine how Austen would have written the story and what the characters would have experienced 200 years later.
Joanna Trollope’s Sense & Sensibility as a pastiche of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility
In Sense & Sensibility, Joanna Trollope writes a sequel to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Indeed, in Trollope’s novel, the reader sees not just a continuation but a recreation and a retelling of the story of Sense and Sensibility. If Genette were to analyse Sense & Sensibility as a pastiche of Sense and Sensibility, several relationships would appear between the two texts: intertextuality, paratextuality, architextuality, metatextuality, hypotextuality, and hypertextuality (Genette, 1997, p. 54).
Intertextuality between Joanna Trollope’s Sense & Sensibility and Austen’s Sense and Sensibility
With regards to intertextuality, Joanna Trollope essentially plagiarizes Austen’s characters and plots. At the same time, the author alludes to the story told in Sense and Sensibility. The plagiarism in this case, however, is not in the exact meaning of this word; Joanna Trollope was one of the prominent contemporary authors commissioned by Harper Paperbacks to rewrite the six novels written by Jane Austen (Patchell, 2013, par. 5). As such, she does acknowledge that her novel is a recreation of Austen’s work.
Nonetheless, plagiarism and allusion are evident right from the title of the book. While Jane Austen’s book is titled Sense and Sensibility, Joanna Trollope’s novel is Sense & Sensibility. The only difference between the two titles is, of course, the use of an ampersand in Joanna Trollope’s book (Patchell, 2013, par. 8). The ampersand may have been cleverly used to intentionally avoid tripping plagiarism detection software, but the sound of the title remains the same and does little to confuse ardent fans of Jane Austen as to the original work on which Trollope’s novel is based.
Fans of Joanna Trollope, who are basically remnants if not spin-offs of Jane Austen’s fans, may argue that Trollope does not plagiarize Sense and Sensibility word for word. And, to give credit to people who subscribe to this school of thought, their argument is right to some extent. For example, a comparison between the opening lines of Sense and Sensibility and Sense & Sensibility shows that Joanna Trollope has not plagiarized Jane Austen’s text word for word.
Chapter 1 of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility opens thus: “The family of Dashwood had been long settled in Sussex. Their estate was large, and their residence at Norland Park, in the centre of their property, where for many generations had lived in so respectable a manner….” (Austen, 2014b, p. 1). In contrast, Volume 1.1 of Joanna Trollope’s Sense & Sensibility opens as follows: “From their windows—their high, generous Georgian windows—the view was, they all agreed, spectacular” (Trollope, 2014, p. 3). The differences between the two opening lines are clearly discernible. In fact, if one were to compare the two lines in isolation from the rest of their supporting contexts, one may conclude that these are completely different stories.
However, the differences are just one line deep. When one reads the second line of Trollope’s Volume 1.1, the influence of Jane Austen is overwhelming; this line reads: “It was a remarkable view of Sussex parkland, designed and largely planted two hundred years before to give the fortunate occupants of Norland Park the very best of what nature could offer….” (Trollope, 2014, p. 3). The reader cannot fail to notice Trollope’s reference to Sussex and Norland Park. In other words, the two stories begin with different words, and perhaps with different characters, but the setting is the same. In effect, Trollope has plagiarized the setting of Jane Austen’s story. Using the words “Volume 1” instead of “Chapter 1”, which is the case in Jane Austen’s novel, does not make the rendition any more original. Consequently, Joanna Trollope’s book is clearly a pastiche of Jane Austen’s novel.
Paratextuality between Joanna Trollope’s Sense & Sensibility and Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility
According to Genette (1997, p. 84), paratextuality is made evident when one text uses titles, headings, or prefaces that are similar to those in another text. The paratextual relationship between Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and its pastiche, Joanna Trollope’s Sense & Sensibility, is clear. Trollope uses the same title as Austen’s book, albeit with the inclusion of an ampersand instead of the word “and”.
However, the designs of the covers of the two books are quite different, the similarities between the two titles notwithstanding. Joanna Trollope’s rendition of Sense and Sensibility is bound in a colourful cover with impressions of two girls or women wearing headphones. The two women are set within two separate circles. If the circles are taken to represent spatial existence of the two persons on the cover, then one can argue that they are living in two different worlds. In spite of the differences in the worlds inhabited by the two, they are sharing one set of headphones. The cable tethering them may be taken as an indication of the fact that the worlds of the two characters are connected through technology.
On the other hand, the cover design of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility is significantly different from that of Joanna Trollope’s rendition. The colours in the 2014 edition are muted, and a wooden park bench appears to take centre stage. A flurry of falling flower petals, pale red in colour, injects the design with a dash of vibrancy. The impression created here is that the bench is in a park. Consequently, whereas Trollope’s design appears to create a link between the novel and technology, Austen’s cover links the book to nature.
Architextuality in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and Joanna Trollope’s Sense & Sensibility
One of the major characteristics of architextuality as far as pastiches are concerned is the identification of a given text with a genre or subgenre (Genette, 1997, p. 80). To this end, a relationship can be established between Joanna Trollope’s Sense & Sensibility and Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen’s work subscribes to the genres of satirical and romance novels. Satire is evident in the dry and comical portrayal of the characters. For instance, John and Fanny are portrayed as snobs, while Lucy is represented as a materialistic woman. The same portrayal of characters is retained by Joanna Trollope; the only difference between the two texts is that Trollope retells Austen’s satire in the context of the 21st century.
A case in this modernized satire is made evident in the conversation between Willoughby and Elinor. The exchange takes place within the context of Marianne’s illness. Trollope writes: “‘Do- do you still think I’m a shit?’ Elinor sighed. ‘I think you’re a car crash. A destructive car crash.’ ‘I’ll take that as one degree more approving than a complete shit’” (Trollope, 2014, p. 316). Such figurative language is missing from the society in which Jane Austen’s characters were living, which shows that Trollope has transformed the satire of these characters from the 17th to the 21st century through the use of choice words.
Joanna Trollope’s novel is still a romanticized representation of the characters and story told by Jane Austen. For instance, marriage is still an evident theme in Sense & Sensibility. Robert Ferrars gets married to Lucy (Patchell, 2013, par. 5). Sex is also discussed in the novel, and again, Joanna injects a dash of the 21st century into the romance. For instance, Robert Ferrars is gay in Joanna Trollope’s story—his marriage to Lucy is just a cover.
Gay relationships or romances were unimaginable in the time of Jane Austen’s society. In addition, Joanna Trollope’s Elinor believes that sex in short-term relationships is acceptable. Such “romanticising” can be construed as offensive to Jane Austen’s own sensibilities. In most of her novels, Sense and Sensibility included, Austen tries to paint a picture of men and women relating in a civilized manner, where sex is restricted to marriage. If civil marriage is not possible, Austen would rather send her characters into an elopement rather than have them engage in sex outside of marriage. However, this social norm and way of life has changed in the 21st century. As such, Joanna Trollope has no option but to modernize her characters in a way that reflects the reality of the 21st century.
Hypotextuality and hypertextuality between Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and Joanna Trollope’s Sense & Sensibility
Hypotextuality and hypertextuality are evident when a pastiche transforms, modifies, or extends an original text (Genette, 1997, p. 79). Translations, parodies, and spoofs all fall under this category of pastiche. Joanna Trollope’s Sense & Sensibility can be viewed as a modification of the plot and characters in Sense and Sensibility, as the story is modified and retold in the context of the 21st century.
Just like a contemporary sequel or retelling of a story, Joanna Trollope omits some details and changes others that were included the original text by Jane Austen (Patchell, 2013, par. 2). As a result, there are some minor variations between the two texts as far as hypotextuality and hypertextuality are concerned. The variations are understandable given the differences in time within which the two stories are told.
For instance, Joanna Trollope has updated some of the characters, including Brandon, Edward Ferrars, and Elinor. With regards to Elinor, however, her relationship with her two sisters and mother is retained. In Margaret, the reader can clearly see the 21st-century flair of Sense & Sensibility. For instance, the teenager cannot get enough of social media, including Facebook and Twitter. She is always glued to her iPod (Patchell, 2013, par. 2).
Hypotextuality and hypertextuality are evident considering that Joanna Trollope retains most of the original characters from Sense and Sensibility. She simply develops them into individuals who live in the 21st century. For her retelling to work effectively, all of the characters retained by Joanna Trollope have to transition into contemporary society.
Joan Aiken’s Eliza’s Daughter as a pastiche of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility
Hypotextuality and hypertextuality between Eliza’s Daughter and Sense and Sensibility
Joan Aiken’s Eliza’s Daughter is a sequel to Sense and Sensibility. However, unlike Joanna Trollope’s rendition, Aiken’s sequel appears drab and compares poorly to the original novel. In the novel, Aiken takes Eliza, a little-known character in Sense and Sensibility, out of oblivion and places her on a pedestal. The story revolves around the daughter of Eliza. The daughter is also named Eliza, perhaps in an effort to retain the connection between the two novels. Eliza begins the story by noting the daughter’s origins: “I have no information as to the circumstances of my birth, or even in what county that event took place; indeed I doubt if there is any record of it” (Aiken, 2008, p. 1).
In the quote above, Joan Aiken acknowledges that the events surrounding the birth of her main character, Eliza, are unknown. The story is told from the voice of the first person narrative. Assuming that Aiken is the force behind her newly created character, Eliza, one can surmise that the quote above is a way of acknowledging that the author has no information regarding the birth of her main character. The line, “Indeed I doubt if there is any record of it” (Aiken, 2008, p. 1), may be an allusion to the fact that the information is missing from Sense and Sensibility. This assumption is plausible considering that Jane Austen ends Sense and Sensibility by indicating that Eliza Williams, the mother of Joan Aiken’s Eliza, is heavily pregnant.
Ardent fans of Jane Austen will scoff at the way the sequel to her novel seems to treat her main characters. One may even argue that Joan Aiken dislikes Sense and Sensibility. She relegates most of the characters in the original to oblivion, while giving attention to a minor character from the initial text. Perhaps she is dissatisfied with the way Jane Austen allocates roles to her characters in Sense and Sensibility.
In spite of her rearrangement of the original characters in the sequel, Joan Aiken seems unable to shake off the Jane Austen effect from Eliza’s Daughter. This inability is testimony to the fact that it is hard to put down Jane Austen, one of the most popular novelists in English literature. For instance, and perhaps out of fear of Austen’s satirical spirit, Aiken makes efforts to retain some of the characters from the original text. The reader of her novel comes across, among others, Colonel Brandon, Edward Ferrars, and Elinor Dashwood.
It is a fact beyond doubt that Eliza’s Daughter is a sequel to Sense and Sensibility. However, Joan Aiken seems to develop the original story by taking the reader back to the events that took place in the original novel. In Eliza’s Daughter, Aiken takes hold of one thread in the fabric and tries to unravel the entire piece of cloth by trying to see where the thread will lead. To this end, she takes hold of Eliza and sends her on a mission to uncover the mystery behind her biological parents (Aiken, 2008, p. 2).
Another similarity between the original novel and its pastiche is the central role played by the heroine. In other words, like the original text, the plot in Eliza’s Daughter revolves around a female main character (Aiken, 2008, p. 10). Although Aiken’s narrative may be simplistic compared to Austen’s, the ability of her female heroine to overcome challenges thrown her way in life is evident.
Metatextuality in Joan Aiken’s Eliza’s Daughter
Metatextuality as far as pastiches are concerned appears when one text comments explicitly or implicitly about another text (Genette, 1997, p. 91). The reference to the original text is clearly evident in Joan Aiken’s Eliza’s Daughter. For instance, on the cover page, the author quotes a commentary review from Publishers Weekly: “Others may try, but nobody comes close to Aiken in writing sequels to Jane Austen” (Aiken, 2008, p. 1). The fact that Aiken leads the pack of Austen sequel writers is debatable, but what is clear is the explicit reference to the author of the original work on which the novel is based: Jane Austen. To this end, the metatextual relationship between the two texts is made clear.
Another instance of metatextuality and, to some extent, paratextuality, is in the title of the book. The complete title of Aiken’s novel is Eliza’s Daughter: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (Aiken, 2008, p. 1). In this way, Aiken makes direct reference to the original text.
Contemporary Pastiches of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park
Contemporary writers under the influence of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park
A number of critics find Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park to be a major departure from her other works. For instance, the heroine, Fanny Price, is unable to convince most readers to fall in love with her (Boyd, 2011, par. 1). Her apparent ineptitude in captivating the emotional imaginations of the reader is in sharp contrast to Austen’s other heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. Indeed, Fanny appears to be one of the most misunderstood of all Jane Austen’s heroines. A discerning reader is even tempted to conclude that in spite of her being the protagonist in Mansfield Park, she does not deserve the role of heroine of the day. To many a critic, the antagonist, Mary Crawford, deserves this honour more than the unappealing and unassertive Fanny Price.
The question of the heroine status of Fanny Price aside, Mansfield Park has continued to captivate the imaginations of several contemporary novelists. It appears that even with the ambiguous and controversial allocation of roles to her characters, Austen still lives on and continues to guide the pens of many contemporary novelists. To this end, a number of pastiches have been written and inspired by Mansfield Park.
They include contemporary fictions, such as Christina Dudley’s The Beresfords, along with Joan Aiken’s sequel Mansfield Park Revisited: A Jane Austen Entertainment. Other writers have even introduced a mysterious twist to Jane Austen’s plot; they include Carrie Bebris in The Matters at Mansfield Park: Or the Crawford Affair and Lynn Shepherd in Murder at Mansfield Park.
Cindy Jones’ My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park as a pastiche of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park
My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park by Cindy Jones is perhaps one of the most popular pastiches of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. In some ways, the pastiche is a parody of the original novel. Cindy Jones takes the main character in Austen’s novel, twists her around, and appears to put her into contrast with the original heroine (Boyd, 2011, par. 2). Whereas Austen’s Fanny Price is a conservative and shy girl, Jones’ version, Lily Berry, is a wild card who acts on impulse in most cases.
Perhaps her wild streak is an attempt to shed the boring cloak of Austen’s Fanny Price. Unlike Fanny Price, whose role as the novel’s heroine is debatable, it is clear to all that Lily Berry is the eye of the storm in Jones’ Summer. A case in point is when Willis stops her from taking off her blouse in a sexually charged episode, after which Jones’ Fanny (Lily Berry) says: “Maybe he wanted to look at me in the moonlight. But then he touched the blouse and, starting at the bottom, he buttoned one after the other until all were closed” (Jones, 2011, p. 150). The new Fanny Price in Cindy Jones’ parody takes the initiative in the seduction game. Such a daring act would likely make Jane Austen cringe with embarrassment.
Cindy Jones’ My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park as a burlesque of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park
A burlesque is one of the various types of a pastiche, and it involves the imitation of the style or plot of a given writer or genre. Importantly, however, the imitation entails a deliberate exaggeration of the attributes of the target text. Like parody, the aim of a burlesque is to create a dramatic and comical effect on the original text (Genette, 1997, p. 89). With regards to pastiches, a burlesque provides both a hypotextual and hypertextual link between two texts.
Cindy Jones’ My Jane Austen Summer is a burlesque of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park in which she parodies and exaggerates the plot and characters of the original novel. However, it is important to note that the parallels between the two sets of characters are slightly blurred, given that Jones has given her creations different names. Nonetheless, the parallels are still evident considering that the roles allocated to these characters in driving the narrative forward are relatively similar to those assigned by Jane Austen. The only difference is that Cindy Jones exaggerates her plot and characters. Such exaggeration is understandable considering that Jones is recreating and re-imagining the adventures of Austen’s Fanny Price in the 21st century (Boyd, 2011, par. 4).
One of the most evident parodies in the pastiche is, of course, the disposition assigned to the heroine. Fanny Price’s lacklustre performance as the heroine in Jane Austen’s novel is completely eliminated in Lily Berry. In Mansfield Park, the heroine appears to be a leaf whose drift is at the mercy of the storms created by the other characters, such as Edmund Bertram and Miss Crawford. However, in My Jane Austen Summer, the heroine takes her role at the centre of the storm.
Indeed, she is the one who determines the flow of the plot. For instance, in Mansfield Park, Jane Austen’s pen prompts Fanny’s parents to send her from home. She is sent to live with her uncle’s family in Northamptonshire (Austen, 1998, p. 2). In contrast, Lily Berry takes the initiative and disposes of all her possessions. She then buys a plane ticket with the proceeds of the sale and heads off to Great Britain (Jones, 2011, p. 3).
One may argue that the decision to leave for Great Britain was prompted by events beyond the control of Lily Berry, including the loss of her job and her altercation with her ex-boyfriend. In this way, parallels can be drawn between Fanny Price, who was sent away by her parents, and Lily Berry, whose departure came as the result of several events taking place in her life. However, this is as far as the similarities between the two characters go. Cindy Jones exaggerates the ability of the heroine in Mansfield Park by deliberately ensuring that Lily Berry makes the decision to leave for Great Britain on her own.
The sexuality and bravado of Jane Austen’s Fanny Price in Mansfield Park is also burlesqued by Cindy Jones in My Jane Austen Summer. In Mansfield Park, Fanny is a passive partaker in the realm of seduction. Perhaps the only time she seems to be assertive is when she turns down Henry’s engagement proposal. Even in this situation, though, the proposal was made by Henry, and Fanny was simply reacting to the stimulus.
Throughout the narrative, she silently suffers alone as she tries to hide her crush on Edmund. In contrast, Lily Berry appears to take matters into her own hands in the seduction game. When she falls for Willis Somerford, she does not hesitate to let him know (Jones, 2011, p. 150). Rewinding the events to the time just before she took off for Great Britain, the reader sees Lily Berry stalking her ex-boyfriend. The stalking incident and the encounter with Willis Somerford may be construed to show that Lily Berry is an emotional wreck. However, emotional wreck or not, she is a far cry from the passive Fanny Price who seems to fade into the shadows.
Lily Berry’s penchant to remain at the helm of her life is seen in the very opening sentences of My Jane Austen Summer, where Jones writes: “My spirits always lifted the instant my car started. Abandoning the grocery store pretense, I backed out of the driveway and headed in the familiar direction of my ex-boyfriend’s house” (Jones, 2011, p. 1). It is a tall order to try and imagine Fanny Price stalking Edmund and Mary in Mansfield Park.
Despite these significant differences in characterization, some things remain the same in Cindy Jones’ burlesque of Mansfield Park. The author’s deliberate effort to retain some resemblance to the original novel is perhaps an attempt to appease the spirit of Jane Austen. It may also be an attempt to massage the egos of Austenists who believe that the heir to Jane’s pen is yet to be born. The reader cannot fail to notice that the basic emotional fabric of Lily Berry is woven using threads borrowed from Fanny Price’s disposition.
Like Fanny Price, Lily Berry is emotionally alienated. She is also sad deep down and seems to live in a cocoon of her own making. For instance, during their exchange, Willis Somerford asks her, “Tell me why you’re so sad” (Jones, 2011, p. 150). Just as it is the reader, the emptiness inside Lily Berry is palpable and can be felt by Somerford. In Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, Fanny Price is lonely in the vast estate of her uncle, and only Edmund seems to provide some form of companionship in her solitary world.
It is also apparent that the life of Lily Berry is, to some extent, determined by events beyond her control. For instance, she is turned into a desperate and emotionally unbalanced dreamer due to her obsession with Jane Austen’s novels. She internalizes the characters and events in the novels and tries to re-enact them, something that proves hard in the 21st century (Boyd, 2011, par. 1). For example, she is fired from her job after she is found reading Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. She then embarks on what she calls a summer in Mansfield Park. In this one aspect, her disposition is no different from Fanny Price’s, whose life seems to be at the mercy of forces external to her world.
Paratextuality between Cindy Jones’ My Jane Austen Summer and Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park
The title of the pastiche makes it clear that a paratextual link exists between the original novel and the burlesque. The title of Cindy Jones’ novel contains the entire title of Jane Austen’s book, though the pastiche modifies the original title by adding a few words to it (Boyd, 2011, par. 1).
In addition, intertextuality is apparent considering that Cindy Jones’ novel makes various direct references to Jane Austen and her books. For instance, direct reference is made to Mansfield Park both in the title and throughout the novel. Lily Berry loses her job after she is found reading a copy of Mansfield Park. Jones also makes several direct references to Jane Austen herself; for instance, the author writes: “Everyone who has read The Six believes they know Jane Austen personally. In our secret hearts, each of us believes that she speaks to us personally in her writings” (Jones, 2011, p. 141). Jones (through Lily Berry) continues to say: “My Jane Austen just happens to follow me around most of the time” (Jones, 2011, p. 141). In light of this, the influence of Jane Austen on My Jane Austen Summer is undeniable.
Cindy Jones also paraphrases and summarizes Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park on page vii. Here, Cindy Jones provides a “Synopsis of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen” (Jones, 2011, p. vii). She starts by introducing Fanny Price and regaling the reader with an account of how the heroine was sent away to Mansfield Park. As the title suggests, the section is a condensed summary of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. The direct reference to the original book makes My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park a pastiche of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.
Contemporary Pastiches of Jane Austen’s Emma
Contemporary authors on Jane Austen’s Emma: Imitations, burlesques, and sequels
In Emma, Jane Austen introduces the reader to, as usual, a heroine living in the Regency age in England: Emma Woodhouse is a “handsome, clever, and rich” 20-year-old girl who fancies herself to be a matchmaker (Austen, 2009, p. 1). Although Jane Austen was quoted as saying that in Emma she would create a character that only she could like, Emma appears quite likable to the reader compared to Fanny Price of Mansfield Park (Laurel, 2010, par. 3).
As expected, various contemporary pastiches have been created out of Jane Austen’s Emma. They include historical fictions, such as Barbara Cornthwaite’s George Knightley, Esquire: Charity Envieth Not and Victoria Grossack’s The Highbury Murders: A Mystery Set in the Village of Jane Austen’s Emma. Carrie Bebris gives a mystery twist to Emma by writing The Intrigue at Highbury, or Emma’s Match. Neither have paranormal and horror writers been left behind, with Joseph Wayne writing Emma and the Vampires and Susan Petrone penning A Body at Rest. All of these books have something in common: Jane Austen (Laurel, 2010, par. 4).
Depending on one’s literary palate, some of these spin-offs can be described as beautiful renditions of Jane Austen’s Emma, while others perhaps should have remained as manuscripts on the desks of the authors.
Carrie Bebris’ The Intrigue at Highbury: Or, Emma’s Match as a sequel to Jane Austen’s Emma
In a book titled Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree, Genette (1997, p. 83) describes a sequel as a piece of writing that continues and develops the story, theme, and plot of a preceding text. This definition fits Carrie Bebris’ The Intrigue at Highbury like a glove, making the book a sequel to Jane Austen’s Emma. In the pastiche, Bebris takes Austen’s Emma and injects it with a dose of crime investigation and mystery. The author introduces two crimes into Emma’s plot and then adds two of her usual characters to the story to try and solve the mysteries (Laurel, 2010, par. 2). In The Intrigue at Highbury, Bebris introduces the reader to her crime busters: Mr. and Mrs. Darcy.
Carrie Bebris starts off the novel by inserting her own characters into the plot. The book opens with the Darcys’ trip to Sussex, where they are headed to pay their respects to Colonel and Anne Fitzwilliam, their recently married cousins. On the way, the two travellers come across a woman who is apparently in distress. Like Austen, Bebris appears intent on giving female characters the centre stage. The cry of the woman appears to rattle Elizabeth Darcy: “Her cry….. pierced the darkness, overpowered the rattle of harnesses and thud of horses’ hooves, penetrated the carriage walls to startle Elizabeth Darcy from the slumber into which she had just drifted” (Bebris, 2010, p. 13).
Just as the reader is starting to get impatient to meet Emma, Carrie Bebris introduces her on page 25. In fact, Emma walks into the scene in the same fashion as Jane Austen’s heroine. Austen starts her book by writing these words: “Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition” (Austen, 2009, p. 6). In these words, Austen paints a picture of a rich young lady leading a comfortable life. To prove that this is a pastiche of Austen’s Emma, Bebris introduces her Emma by writing this: “Emma Woodhouse Knightley, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition” (Bebris, 2010, p. 25). The similarities between the two texts are evident thus far.
Jane Austen continues her description of the heroine: “[Emma Woodhouse] seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her” (Austen, 2009, p. 6). Carrie Bebris’ book appears to be a sequel to Jane Austen’s novel considering that she inserts some subtle yet clear qualities to show that the Emma of The Intrigue at Highbury is a developed version of the heroine in Jane Austen’s Emma. For instance, Bebris qualifies Emma’s happiness by referring to a previous life event: “a happiness recently compounded by her marriage to a gentleman of noble character and steadfast heart” (Bebris, 2010, p. 25).
In The Intrigue at Highbury, Emma has been recently married to Mr. Knightley, a member of the clergy. Thus, the new character in Bebris’ rendition of Emma has adopted the surname Knightley (Bebris, 2010, p. 25). In Austen’s Emma, the book closes with the wedding between Mr. Knightley and Miss Woodhouse (Emma); Jane Austen writes: “within a month from the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Martin, to join the hands of Mr. Knightley and Miss Woodhouse” (Austen, 2009, p. 200). Throughout the book, Jane Austen refers to her as Emma Woodhouse. In Carrie Bebris’ The Intrigue at Highbury, Emma becomes Mrs. Knightley.
However, fans of Jane Austen can identify with The Intrigue at Highbury because certain similarities are discernible between the two works. For instance, the underlying plot is largely similar, and both revolve around the Highbury country. Bebris simply continues the plot in Jane Austen’s Emma by adding a mystery twist (Laurel, 2010, par. 9). Bebris has also retained most of the characters from Jane Austen’s Emma. For instance, the heroine remains the same, and the only major additions to the characters seem to be the Darcys. It is a fact that Carrie Bebris’ The Intrigue at Highbury is a sequel to Jane Austen’s Emma. Bebris is writing in the 21st century, while Jane Austen composed her story in the 1880s.
In spite of the significant variations in the times within which the stories were written, Bebris retains the Regency-era touch in her pastiche. She overcomes the temptation to modernize the characters and plot of the original novel; though she is writing in the 21st century, she tells the story and locates the characters in the time of Jane Austen. On the contrary, Jane Austen was writing about the society within which she was living.
Intertextuality and paratextuality between Carrie Bebris’ The Intrigue at Highbury and Jane Austen’s Emma
Intertextuality, paratextuality, architextuality, metatextuality, and hypotextuality are evident between Carrie Bebris’ The Intrigue at Highbury and Jane Austen’s Emma. Indeed, Bebris uses direct quotes from Jane Austen, while direct references are made to the author of Emma in some sections of the novel (Genette, 1997, p. 80).
Moreover, Bebris uses various quotes from Jane Austen’s Emma. For example, at the start of chapter one, she quotes Austen thus: “When such success has blessed me in this instance, dear papa, you cannot think that I shall leave off match-making. – Emma Woodhouse, Emma” (Bebris, 2010, p. 25). The quote is in direct reference to Emma’s newfound passion for matchmaking, and it is not the only use of a direct Austen quote in the novel.
Several instances are evident. In fact, at the beginning of every chapter and section in the book, Bebris incorporates quotes from Jane Austen’s Emma. For example, at the beginning of the prologue, Bebris writes: “A young lady who faints, must be recovered; questions must be answered, and surprises explained” (Bebris, 2010, p. 13). In this way, quotation and plagiarism are evident.
In the Acknowledgements section, Carrie Bebris makes another direct reference to Jane Austen and her novel, Emma. The author writes: “His favorite Jane Austen novel was Emma, the story on which The Intrigue at Highbury is based” (Bebris, 2010, p. 7). In this quote, Bebris is making reference to her editor, Brian M. Thomsen. With this acknowledgement, it becomes apparent that Bebris’ The Intrigue at Highbury: Or, Emma’s Match is related to—and a sequel of—Jane Austen’s Emma.
One of the major differences between Jane Austen’s Emma and its pastiche is made clear when one categorizes the two texts into their respective genres (Laurel, 2010, par. 7). To this end, Austen’s Emma is more of a romance novel, as Austen appears concerned with the love lives of her characters, especially that of the main character Emma. Moreover, the book has a Cinderella-like feel, as Austen closes her novel with a happy ending: “But, in spite of these deficiencies, the wishes, the confidence, …… were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the union” (Austen, 2009, p. 209). In contrast, Carrie Bebris’ novel revolves around mystery, and the major theme of the novel involves resolving a crime.
Contemporary Pastiches of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey
Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey: Sequels, parodies, and recreations
Contemporary authors such as James Jenni have been inspired by Jane Austen’s Gothic parody, Northanger Abbey. Jenni is the author of Northanger Alibi: The Austen Diaries No. 1, which is targeted at a teen audience. Writers of historical fiction have not been left behind by the Jane Austen train, either. Amanda Grange has authored Henry Tilney’s Diary: A Novel, while Emily Snyder has written Nachtsturm Castle: A Gothic Austen Novel. What is common in these novels and many more is that they are all inspired, to varying degrees, by Jane Austen (Ward, 2011, par. 3).
Emily Snyder’s Nachtsturm Castle: A Gothic Austen Novel as a sequel to Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey
According to Genette (1997, p. 79), the main purpose of a sequel is to continue and develop the plot and story of a preceding text. Some sequels connect their plots with the original story so seamlessly that it appears that the narration actually never stopped. That is how Emily Snyder takes the audience from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey to her Nachtsturm Castle.
Emily Snyder’s Nachtsturm Castle has all the hallmarks of a sequel. The story begins with a reference to its heroine, who is in fact the very same heroine from Northanger Abbey. To this end, Snyder establishes a clear link between Nachtsturm Castle and Northanger Abbey. The main character in both novels is Catherine (Ward, 2011, par. 2).
Northanger Abbey comes to a close with the marriage between Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney (Austen, 2000, p. 175). The two lovers have overcome various challenges in their quest for happiness, and Austen grants them a happy ending. This happy ending then becomes the beginning of Snyder’s Nachtsturm Castle. The book starts with the lovers in Austen’s novel, who are now husband and wife. Whereas the heroine is referred to as Catherine Morland in Jane Austen’s novel, continuity is evident in Snyder’s text as she is now referred to as Mrs. Catherine Tilney. She has also overcome her obsession with Gothic romance and mystery, which characterized her disposition throughout Northanger Abbey.
The change is made evident as Snyder writes: “Perhaps at one time she had been given over to unbridled imagination that saw ghosts in every cupboard and skeletons in every shoe” (Snyder, 2010, p. 3). She has now become “the quiet wife of Henry Tilney” (Snyder, 2010, p. 3).
To further highlight the growth that Catherine has undergone between Northanger Abbey and Nachtsturm Castle, Snyder, through Henry Tilney, makes fun of her obsession with ghosts and everything Gothic. Her husband tells her: “‘Do you remember, the Japan closet?’” (Snyder, 2010, p. 3). Here, Henry Tilney is making reference to the fact of his wife’s many teenage fears.
Some similarities still remain between Nachtsturm Castle and Northanger Abbey. Emily Snyder seems to stretch the thread of the plot, but she is careful not to break it from the source. For instance, for the purposes of continuity, the main characters remain the same (Ward, 2011, par. 2).
Other characters are also retained in the sequel. The theme of a Gothic parody is largely the same between the two texts. In Jane Austen’s novel, the heroine displays her obsession with Gothic mysteries during her time at Northanger Abbey.
In Snyder’s rendition, the mysteries are the same, and the only difference is that they take place in a different location, Nachtsturm Castle. Furthermore, Catherine appears to approach the mysteries from the perspective of an adult. Unlike in Northanger Abbey, she does not internalize everything that she sees. In fact, she entertains the thought of coincidences. Her change in perspective is clear when she says, “‘Of course, my love. What a fortunate coincidence!’” (Snyder, 2010, p. 18). Here, she is responding to her husband’s reference to Nachtsturm Castle.
Another similarity between Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and its pastiche by Emily Snyder is made apparent in the opening lines of the two books, which both refer to the heroine. Jane Austen begins her novel thus: “No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine” (Austen, 2000, p. 1). In Nachtsturm Castle, an older Catherine opens the plot, as Emily Snyder writes: “Mrs. Catherine Tilney was a well-read girl, but not a stupid one” (Snyder, 2010, p. 3). Snyder’s Catherine is not only married, but she is also wiser compared to the heroine in Austen’s original novel. Such is the change in the new character that the reader interacts with in Nachtsturm Castle.
Despite Catherine’s matured perspective, Emily Snyder’s main characters are still obsessed with Gothic novels and writers. In Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen continuously refers to Gothic novels, references that create intertextuality between the book and preceding texts. In Emily Snyder’s Nachtsturm Castle, the characters also make reference to Gothic authors. For example, one reference is especially clear: “They must tour Mrs. Radcliffe’s country, and—if at all possible—stay one night in a dank and gloomy castle” (Snyder, 2010, p. 3). Here, Snyder is referring to the country within which Radcliffe’s Udolpho is set.
The enthusiasm displayed by Catherine Morland when she embarks on her journey to Northanger Abbey is mirrored in the Tilneys’ excitement to visit Nachtsturm Castle. Their journey to the castle is similar to Catherine’s journey to the abbey in Northanger Abbey; the only difference between the two journeys is that Catherine Morland made hers while she was a teenager, while Mr. and Mrs. Tilney are making theirs as a married couple.
Contemporary Pastiches of Jane Austen’s Persuasion: Juliet Archer’s Persuade Me
In Persuade Me, Juliet Archer retells Jane Austen’s Persuasion and gives the novel a modern feel. Just like in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Juliet Archer’s Persuade Me revolves around the struggles encountered by two lovers as they fight for their love. The novel opens with Dr Rick Wentworth, a marine biologist and publisher. In Persuade Me, he has published an award-winning book on his research and now has to travel from Australia to England to promote the book (Archer, 2012, p. 5). In England, he will inevitably come across his first love, Anna Elliot. He has been struggling to get her out of his mind and heart, but it seems that fate has other plans.
The similarities between the two books are evident considering that in both cases, the two lovers are separated when young. Anne Elliot in Jane Austen’s Persuasion is separated from her lover, Captain Frederick Wentworth, at the prompting of her family. The family feels that Frederick is poor and unsuitable to marry a girl from an aristocratic family. Consequently, their engagement is broken (Austen, 1997, p. 15). In Juliet Archer’s Persuade Me, the two lovers are separated for similar reasons: they come from different family backgrounds. However, just like the original novel, their love transcends social class.
Juliet Archer gives her book a modern twist. She changes the names of the main characters slightly, though they still sound like their original versions in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Anne Elliot becomes Anna Elliot, while Captain Frederick Wentworth becomes Dr Rick Wentworth. In addition, Juliet Archer gives the characters a modern touch by slightly altering their careers. For instance, in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Frederick is a naval officer, while in Juliet Archer’s Persuade Me, he is a marine biologist (Archer, 2012, p. 9). Again, in Austen’s Persuasion, Fredrick becomes wealthy after becoming a senior officer in the navy.
In addition, he accumulates wealth after capturing vessels during the Napoleonic War. On the contrary, Dr Rick Wentworth in Archer’s Persuade Me attains social recognition after the publication of his award-winning book. On her part, Juliet Archer’s Anna Elliott is a lecturer. The changes in the professions of the two main characters are necessary considering that Juliet Archer is trying to recreate them in the 21st century.
Another similarity between the two books is that they are both romance novels set in their particular times in history. Moreover, love appears to win in both cases. In both novels, the main characters find each other after their initial separation. Again, a Cinderella-like “happy ever after” appears to be shared among the two novels.
Unlike other pastiches whose authors find it necessary to keep referring to Jane Austen and quoting her throughout the text, Juliet Archer seems to make a deliberate effort to remain independent. The author only copies the plot of Jane Austen’s novel, gives the characters a touch of modernity, and then writes a contemporary romance. However, Juliet Archer cannot ignore Jane Austen entirely. Indeed, in the Acknowledgements section, she acknowledges that Jane Austen is the motivation behind the novel: “A big thank you to Jane Austen, for inspiration” (Archer, 2012, p. 1). Consequently, Persuade Me becomes a pastiche of Jane Austin’s Persuasion.
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