Ostensibly Austen

Adult fan fiction finds new readers as popular literary characters resurface in fantasy and erotic literature, writes Sohini Chakravorty

June 26, 2012 04:53 pm | Updated 08:33 pm IST

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Most of us are familiar with “A truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” famously written by Jane Austen in the classic Pride And Prejudice . However, it is also “a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains” or that “a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a good romp and a good wife although not necessarily from the same person or from the opposite sex.” Welcome to the world of adult fan fiction. Going by the success of the erotic fiction like The Fifty Shades of Graey trilogy and fantasy fiction, popular characters from classic literature are shedding their prudish ways for a casual romp in the moors of Yorkshire or growing a fang and wooing the chaste belle. Cashing in on the popularity of genres like vampire fiction and erotic literature many contemporary authors are taking popular literary characters and plotlines and giving it a twist.

Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice itself has inspired numerous spin offs in different literary genres. Mitzi Szereto’s Pride And Prejudice: Hidden Lust where it’s not just Elizabeth Bennet but Mr Bingley and his sister lusts over the charming devilish Mr Darcy and plenty of between the sheets cavorting are peppered throughout the book. “These spin offs are fun for a casual read and should be treated as a parody,” points out Anjali Narayan, working for a publishing house.

The parody novel Pride And Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith is set in a world of zombies and the undead where the usually reticent Mr Bennett teaches his daughters defence against zombies. “The best form of flattery to the author and characters is fan fiction but one can’t be expected to replicate the style of the author,” says Amrita Suresh, author of the book When A Lawyer Falls In Love . She points out that these classics can have many interpretations and this kind of fiction becomes popular to suit the sensibility of the era. “One has to separate fan fiction from the original. It takes time to accept a version where the March sisters are lesbians,” she adds.

This kind of parallel literature is particularly in demand among the e-readers. One of the reasons that is believed to have led to the sudden rise of erotic literature is that e-readers can indulge in the world of erotica without any kind of embarrassment because of its anonymity. It was only after rapid sale of the ebook The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by E.L. James, the paperback version of the book was ordered. Following the success, Eve Sinclair recently announced the erotic version of the Charlotte Bronte classic as Jane Eyre Laid Bare .

Usha Raman, writer and professor of arts and communications, University of Hyderabad points out that though vampire literature like The Dracula , or D.H Lawrence’s erotic classic Lady Chatterley’s Lover were always popular, parallel literature has gained more prominence of the varied expression in the public domain. “These kinds of books have entered public conversation with the extensive media coverage that’s why we feel that there is something new happening.” With the basic narrative any plot can be adapted be it science fiction, thriller, fantasy or erotic literature. She adds that though the anxiety over the loss of original classics exists, the stories will still exist in our sub conscious mind. “Reading habits have changed but our education system has not and students are exposed to these classics within the academic set up,” she explains.

Did Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy have a happy marriage after they moved to Pemberly? Were Heathcliff and Catherine united after death? Only the world of adult fan fiction can provide answers to such questions.

Literary mash up

Death Comes To Pemberly by P.D James

Jane Slayre by Sherri Browning Erwin

Wuthering Bites by Sarah Gray

Heathcliff, Vampire Of Wuthering Heights by Amanda Paris

Little Vampire Women by Lynn Messina

Android Karenina by Ben H. Winters

Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

(All these books are available online)

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