Fanfiction/Jane Austen

Fanfiction is the most open-ended topic yet, so my ordinary method totally breaks down here.  Since we’re going to be focusing largely on Austen, I’ve tried to find mainly resources that are specifically related to her work.  But even so, the sheer volume of fanfiction is far beyond anything we’ve seen, so I’m just going to give some general pointers that will probably lead each of you to something different.

 

The Web site fanfiction.net has an enormous user base, and seems to house a rather large portion of the fanfiction community.  It hosts more than half a million texts related to Harry Potter alone. If you want to find some examples of fanfiction for a particular work, this is a good place to start:

https://www.fanfiction.net/

 

Even after looking at a lot of works that have been adapted time and time again, I was surprised by the length of Wikipedia’s “List of literary adaptations of Pride and Prejudice.”  It includes well over 100 works by 77 different authors, almost all of them published in this century:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_literary_adaptations_of_Pride_and_Prejudice

A lot of these are basically self-published, although some are supported by publishers with wide distribution.  I spotted some myself in a Barnes & Noble:

Image

 

And then there’s Emma.  Besides Clueless, there is a 2010 Bollywood film based on Emma, titled Aisha.  It is available to stream on NetFlix, for those of you who have it.  The 1996 film starring Gwyneth Paltrow is also available to stream.

 

“Emma Approved” is an ongoing Internet adaptation of Emma, which tells the story in a series of video blog entries narrated by Emma.  You can find it here:

http://www.emmaapproved.com/

It is made by the same group of people who made “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries”, which do something similar with Pride and Prejudice:

http://www.lizziebennet.com/

 

Fanfiction.net only has 257 texts for Emma (compared to over 3,100 for Pride and Prejudice), but there is more to be found elsewhere.  Deep into the Austen fan site pemberly.com, there is a page from the old days of the Web (1998) that has a bunch of Austen fics, several of which are based on Emma:

http://www.pemberley.com/derby/aindex.html

 

The Web site strangegirl.com has an Emma page that lists “Sequels, Retellings, & Allusions”:

http://www.strangegirl.com/emma/novel.php

This site also has information about film adaptations—use the navigation bar on the left.  There is another list of Emma sequels on pemberley.com:

http://www.pemberley.com/bin/sequels/sequels.cgi?category=emma

  

 

Wayne Josephson wrote a “monster mashup” of Emma called Emma and the Vampires.  Here is a (not very positive) review:

 

http://austenblog.com/2010/10/26/review-emma-and-the-vampires-by-wayne-josephson/

 

The Albuquerque library has a Web site that attempts to catalogue this sort of mashup, although I’m not sure how comprehensive it is:

 

http://abclibrary.org/mashups

 

 

Apart from adaptations of Austen’s novels, “Austenmania” has produced a number of fan publications that update regularly, such as The Everything Austen Daily:

http://paper.li/SMaryG/1313306340

 

There are also a bunch of Austen-related Twitter feeds.  The most popular seems to be this one (Barack Obama follows it):

https://twitter.com/DailyJaneAusten

 

And finally, just a couple of weeks ago, the game studio 3 Turn Productions released a prototype of a 3D game called “Ever, Jane” that apparently includes fully-functional “gossip and […] invitation systems”.  You can download it for free here:

http://www.openculture.com/2013/12/download-a-prototype-of-ever-jane.html

11 thoughts on “Fanfiction/Jane Austen

  1. A great compendium, Jeff! The only thing I’d add is that this year is the bicentenary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, which has led to a whole slew of Austen-related…stuff (I may or may not own the official Royal Mail Jane Austen Stamp set). One thing I’m going to cover next week is how the figure of Austen herself has been subjected to the vagaries of fandom–for instance, the controversy over putting Austen on the ten pound note:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/roiphe/2013/08/the_anger_over_jane_austen_on_a_10_pound_note_proves_people_can_rage_over.html

    and then over how, exactly, she looks on the note:
    http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/oct/30/jane-austen-airbrushed-on-new-10-pound-note

  2. Jeff,

    Thanks again for such a comprehensive survey. I wonder why “P & P” so much outweighs “Emma,” thought that’s no slouch. I guess it is appropriate that we end with such a plethora of sites dealing with our basic concept. Is anybody going to read the actual novel (interestingly, with no author’s name on the title-page, just the reference to earlier works by the same author)? I’ll post the title page on our Dropbox. Now I have to try to make sense of Carver/Altman: while I know both fairly well, I don’t think I realized what I was letting myself in for!

    See you all Tuesday.

    D

    PS I don’t know why I am being sent posts to “moderate” (but clearly not all). I’m trying to keep up with the site online, but this business is certainly annoying, for me and for those whose posts are relegated to this limbo.

  3. I will squelch my indignation at Alan Moore being snubbed this week because 1.) With two presentations (one on Jane Austen), and the almost too-big-to-handle realm of fanfiction there will be hardly time and 2.) due to his highly documented reclusiveness and prickly relationship with every adaptation of his work, he probably won’t mind being left out of our conversation. However, since he’s generally the first name to come up in any scholarly assessment of comic books that merit critical discussion, and since I’m a huge fan, I’m going to post about him anyway (sorry guys)
    It seems to me that comic books are ripe for analysis in respect to adaptation, in the way the medium touches on themes of legal and corporate ownership, economic and technological constraints, the relationship between writing and artwork, history and literature, creators and fanbases, and pop, or low, culture and high culture. Alan Moore isn’t just one of the first “serious” comic authors, his work makes clear the just how entangled the comic book as a medium is with all kinds of other sources. His most renowned work, “Watchmen”, is a superhero satire, with all the characters thinly-veiled Charlton Comics properties widely remarked for elevating the genre to something more reflective and serious. It’s been adapted into a movie by comic-book-adaptation-guy Zack Snyder, which is largely viewed as being one of the most faithful comic book-to-film adaptations (it isn’t), and more recently DC Comics put out a prequel series “Before Watchmen”, which Moore has publicly distanced himself from and reviewers have maligned as “unnecessary” and “indulgent” (there are some lukewarm, positive reviews, but eh). His works “Lost Girls” and “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” mash-up characters and settings from different Victorian and early 20th Century adventure, mystery, science, and pulp fiction – with later editions of “Extraordinary Gentlemen” showcasing Moore’s experimentation with different writing styles, famously a nigh-unreadable Beat-pastiche called “The Crazy Wide Forever”, an “undiscovered”, “unfinished” Shakespeare play about the continuing exploits of Prospero after The Tempest, and a Tijuana bible written in Orwellian Newspeak. The proposed subject for this week, “V For Vendetta”, collapses historical figures into a vision of a dystopian Britain, and is noteworthy for its popularity and its challenging format, with dense panels that occasionally require the book to be turned, written songs, and highly figurative language and ambiguous plotlines. It’s also probably the best example of an adaptation gutting all the significant ideological themes of a source and fashioning a fairly straight forward action film, which nonetheless served as my gateway film into Moore. Most recently, an older work of Moore’s called Marvelman (and later, Miracleman) is being republished by, who else, but Marvel Comics. The property has a notoriously bitter and complicated legal history, and for several reason Moore refuses to attach his name to the new edition, so it is solicited as Marvel Comics Presents: Marvelman, by THE ORIGINAL WRITER. Since I’m relishing the chance to read this older work, I’ve researched it quite a bit and know who that title refers to, but I’m wondering what a comics layperson would think if they were to pick that new edition off the self. I think this is a pretty weird move, particularly since comic book figures rarely have one, originary writer; why do we need to know or have the “original” writer? Ok, I’m done now, sorry again!

    • Yes, you’re right that the concept of the “originary” writer is peculiarly inappropriate for some media. And even in print fiction, which is often cited as a location where original intention (at least post-1800 or so) can be fairly accurately documented, there are often problems in the transmission, misrepresentation, even eradication of those “originary” moments. I’m trying to put the finishing touches (well, almost finishing) to my blog on “Short Cuts” Carver/Altman, in which we can see the transmitter (Carver’s editor, Gordon Lish) pretty much destroy the originary text. More to come on this.

  4. I am consistently intrigued by the popularity of Jane Austen. I have never quite understood why Jane Austen’s work has been so enormously popular- I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy her novels, but I just think it’s interesting that there are so, so many adaptations of her work (particularly focused on Pride and Prejudice and Emma.) The Emma Approved videos are really interesting to me as well. The series of videos changes the novel into a mini-series that fans can follow. The website itself also shows the characters of Emma and Harriet in the latest fashion- which reminds me of Clueless of course. Last week, we briefly touched upon the satisfaction that fans take in re-enacting or re-creating adaptations of their favorite works. Emma Approved certainly does this, and adds a modern spin on the Emma story, seemingly updating the classic. The letter to the creators of Emma Approved that Aya posted above also emphasizes how seriously fans take fan-fiction, and defend it against slander, even if they have no direct connection with the creators. I’m sure everyone is familiar with how defensive fans can get!

    Going back to a conversation we have had earlier this semester, I wonder if it is necessary to know that Clueless is an adaptation. Unlike these other adaptations, which take names and very direct references from Austen’s work, Clueless does not directly reference Austen. In fact, the first time I saw Clueless, I had no idea it was based on Emma, and had never read Emma before. After watching it again and comparing it with the novel, it’s obvious that it is an adaptation- yet one could never know this, and still enjoy the movie. I suppose we will talk about these issues among other things this Tuesday!

    • I think you have a good point Alexandra, and I think it’s very noticeable that the enormous number of spinoffs/adaptations, with the major exception of “Clueless,” all seem to depend on the continuity and presence of the name “Emma” in their titles. Remember how we discussed the similar presence of “Death in Venice” (already a very provocative title when Mann wrote the novella) seems to inform the later versions (Britten, Visconti, et al.) by retaining the link with Mann. Cf. the “Deaths in Venice” book by Kitcher.

  5. I’ll start off with a funny anecdote. I was in a volunteer choir rehearsal for a church event, and during a break, our music director introduced us to a young, handsome gentleman who was also acting as our tenor soloist. As soon as the director mentioned that he had played Mr. Knightley in a recent musical adaptation, all the women in the room sighed audibly.

    First confession: I’m a total fan girl when it comes to the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved. Bernie Su, the head writer on both projects, responded to the open letter and some of the other social media criticisms yesterday in a public Google hangout (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCUTQdTZSng) It’s long, but I would click through just so you can see who Su is. When I saw him for the first time, I was a bit surprised that he was the one behind the adaptation. A summary of the discussion was compiled here (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LeQ6dtk0ToAbEpmWWjFxcCTbmwPqIfb_6zwhNSmkYqI/preview?pli=1&sle=true). The latter provides a recent example of many of the issues we’ve been discussing…fan/producer relationship, ownership of text, interpretive differences, etc.

    Reading through the Google doc, I thought about why P&P is adapted so much more than Emma…or any other of Austen’s works for that matter. I wonder if it has to do with the starting place of the lead character and how likable she is. Though Emma and Lizzy are flawed at their respective stories’ starts, Lizzie is infinitely more likable than Emma. Supposedly, Austen herself noted that. Also, re: my opening anecdote, women LOVE Austen’s leading men. Is it because they are the 19th c. version of Disney princes? I’m completely biased, so I would love to hear thoughts from our class’s male population.

    Second confession: I also read P&P spinoff novels. One of my favorites is a series of three novels called “Fitzwilliam Darcy: a Gentleman” by Pamela Aidan, which tell Darcy’s POV of things. Aidan creates a lovely set of side characters and fleshes out the minor characters of Col. Fitzwilliam and Georgiana quite nicely. Started off as fanfiction but was later published. I also like this series by Carrie Bebris that take place after the events of the novel and have Mr. and Mrs. Darcy solving mysteries in the universes of other Austen novels. Click through for Bebris’ very “punny” titles: http://www.carriebebris.com/darcy_mysteries.php. I have not read Death Comes to Pemberley (though one of my best friends is reading it). A TV miniseries adaptation of that is in post-production currently. I’ll be watching it because of the Doctor Who connection….Jenna Louise Colman (the actress who portrays the Doctor’s current companion) is playing Lydia in it.

    I’d be happy to bring in some of my collection of Austen books and DVDs. The BBC recently made a miniseries version of Emma starring Romola Garai and Johnny Lee Miller…might be interesting for scene comparisons on Tues.

    I cannot tell a lie. I’m super excited about Tuesday’s discussion.

    Aya

    PS – Since this is fanfiction week too, I thought I’d link you all to my favorite story. (I mentioned it before class started last week.) It’s a crossover fic between Season 4 of Buffy and Star Wars Episode 1. The author has problems with homonyms. Normally, I’m a stickler for editing/grammar, but this story is quite good…despite the grammar probs. http://www.tthfanfic.org/Story-7024/winterd+Phantoms+and+Slayers.htm. For those of you interested in fanfiction, Twisting the Hellmouth is a fun archive and worth a peruse. It just occurred to me that crossover fic is a quite a phenomenon because it allows authors to work out of multiple modes of fannish identity in a single activity (i.e. simultaneously a fanfic writer, a Buffy fan, and a Star Wars fan).

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