Man, it’s been kind of a rough decade for Jane Austen and other pioneering female authors of fiction. Filmmakers these days are adapting their books into, like, lens-flarey, advertorial B-roll of the lush English countryside intercut with sub-Nicholas Sparks face-sucking in artificial rain. To say nothing of all the zombie crossovers. Today, on the occasion of its bicentennial, let’s celebrate the great grandmammy of them all, Pride and Prejudice, for what it really is.
Namely, a book about money. As David Markson once pointed out, Jane Austen pretty universally manages to mention money on the first page of whatever she wrote. Money and class dictate motivations, character—hell, even the pride and prejudice of the title. And however much you want to talk about the tradition of marriage or the search for true love and running toward your lover in a wet field, the fact is that money underlies even Austen’s happy resolutions.
In light of all that, here’s what I’m asking: how about, instead of “updating” Austen to reflect this fad of teenage supernatural pornography or whatever that godforsaken part of the foreclosed Barnes & Noble is called, why are we not tapping into this obsession with cash and the status that comes with it? Pride and Prejudice, honestly, makes more sense as a hip-hop video or reality TV show than a Goosebumps knockoff. If we’re going to desecrate our classics, I insist we do it right. So get to work, aspiring novelists toiling in James Frey’s content farm! This drivel won’t write itself.
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