Vampires in Gentlemen’s Clothing

Cover-EmmaVampiresVampires have endured as a part of the supernatural world, having various forms depending on the cultural legends of the area from which they hail. Some feed on blood. Some feed on chi. Some seduce men in their sleep. Some prey on unsupervised virgins. Some cannot face the light of day. Some cower at the sight of a cross in the hands of a true believer. Some cannot cross running water. And the means to end vampires varies just as greatly, again, depending on the kind of vampire it is.

But the one type of vampire that has captured many in books and movies is the refined romantic vampire who longs for redemption or ever lasting love. These are the vampires that tend to have an aristocratic bearing about them, and these are the perfect vampires to invade the world of Jane Austen in this month’s selection Emma and the Vampires by Wayne Josephson.

This version finds Emma playing matchmaker while being completely oblivious to the vampires in the mists of her social circle. The story begins:

Emma Woodhouse–handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition–had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress her. Until the vampire attacks began.

Two things jump out with this opener: 1) Josephson has altered the grammar and wording, and 2) there are vampires. Yes, these two points may seem obvious, but after the gross disappointment of a previous Emma mashup that used Austen’s original text and slapped in additional text that deviated significantly from Austen’s established voice and language (most notably the use of contractions) causing a poorly constructed mashup to be thrown into the world I am pleased to see that Josephson is already off to a promising start. 

For those that do not know the original opening of Austen’s Emma is as follows:

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.

The alteration keeps with the character establishment set down by Austen, while setting us up for the vampires to come and Josephson’s skill with modernizing the language of classics. As we read I will be looking at this language modification and the vampires. I am curious how the introducing the vampires alters the characters and their interactions, whether that is directly or subtly.

What interests you about this month’s selection? What are your thoughts on introducing vampires to Emma’s world? What are your thoughts on altering Austen’s language? 

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