Have you heard about The Austen Project?
It’s an project in which “six bestselling contemporary authors” are paired with each of Jane Austen’s six novels. From the website: “Taking these well-loved stories as their base, each author will write their own unique take on Jane Austen’s novels.”
Um…so basically these are fanfic, yeah? Sorry, are we not supposed to call them that? Because “bestselling contemporary authors” are writing them and Harper Collins is publishing them?
The Austen Project is nothing new or original. Re-telling and modernizing Jane Austen’s stories has been done. It’s being done. Hello, Clueless. Hello, Bridget Jones’ Diary. Hello, Hyacinth Gardens, Derbyshire Writers’ Guild, and A Happy Assembly. Hello, Meryton Press. Of course, I’ve read some of the Austen Project novels, will probably read all of them, and am stoked for Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld. I welcome any and all Austen adaptations.
But my point is that fanfic is pooh-poohed by the Publishing Establishment, except when they’re trying to capitalize on it. Let’s just call The Austen Project what it is: Jane Austen Fan Fiction!