It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an author in possession of a renowned body of work must be repeatedly ripped off. In other, non-Pride and Prejudice-inspired words, book publishers are reworking Jane Austen — again.
According to the New York Times, HarperCollins is introducing a six-book series in which contemporary writers of “global literary significance” each take on one of Austen’s revered tales. First up will be a modern version of Sense and Sensibility, written by English novelist Joanna Trollope. Though there’s no word yet on which authors will be tackling Austen’s other works, Trollope’s interpretation of Sense and Sensibility is scheduled for publication sometime in 2013.
(MORE: The 100 Best Novels of All-TIME)
NewsFeed loves Jane Austen as much as the next former-English lit major, but we’re not sure how thrilled we are by the prospect of this series. After all, these books will be joining the already substantial library of Austen-inspired retellings, spinoffs and modernizations. Think Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Bridget Jones’s Diary or Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps it’s our fatigue with movie-remakes spilling over (a new Dirty Dancing? We’re not happy), but why have yet another writer reworking Austen’s already wonderful work? What’s the point? Well, beyond money, that is.
Then again, perhaps we’re being too quick to judge (how Lizzy Bennet of us). After all, Trollope has written many best-sellers, including The Rector’s Wife, and is also the chairwoman of the judging panel for the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction; she knows her literature. And her heart seems to be in the right place. Reflecting on the book, she noted, “This is a project which will require consummate respect above all else; not an emulation, but a tribute.” So, in the spirit of Austen’s lessons, we’re reserving judgment. For now.