Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (2016)

10. Austen herself was into mashups—more than her purists are
The Austen Project series pairs bestselling contemporary authors like Alexander McCall Smith and Joanna Trollope with her six complete works, each using that story as a base but offering their own modern take. And writers from Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary to Jo Baker's below-stairs take Longbourn and the P.D. James whodunit Death Comes to Pemberley offer canon-adjacent original tales and continuations on her now-public domain work, while cinematic mashups populate her world with sea monsters or recast the Bennet sisters as Regency-era wuxia warriors fighting zombies. Fanfic like Austenland veers dangerously into cheap pastiche.

Some Janeites are less fond of these sassy spinster retellings than others. Director Whit Stillman, for example, stands in defiance of today's remix culture—Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, et. al.as well as the modernizations like The Austen Project (the latest last spring being Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld). He prefers that creation happen differently. "Maybe people are doing good work in it, but it's just an idea I hate,' Stillman says. "Oh we're a publisher and we're going to commission a series…Bridget Jones is fine, if a writer gets and idea and wants to do something new, great, but I do hate that sort of industrializing."

Follow freelance culture critic Nathalie Atkinson on Twitter at @Nathat

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