James Fairfax: A Gender Bending Alternate Regency Universe Will be the Next Austen Mash-up

James Fairfax, by Jane Austen and Adam Campan (2009)Gentle Readers: In yet the third announcement in less than a week, another publisher is jumping on the classic literary re-imagining/mash-up band wagon and hitching their star to Austen’s prose. Independent publisher Norilana Books has announced today a new novel entitled James Fairfax, combining Jane Austen’s original text of Emma with new scenes by Adam Campan. Described as a “re-envisioning of Jane Austen’s world, where gay marriage is commonplace and love is gender-blind,” one is all astonishment as to this new premise.

Here is the publicity blurb:

In this stunning, gender-bending, stylish dance-of-manners version of Jane Austen’s beloved classic novel EMMA — an alternate Regency where gay marriage is commonplace and love is gender-blind — matchmaking Emma Woodhouse tries to find a suitable spouse for her lover Harriet Smith, and is embroiled in the secrets of the relationship between the mysterious and accomplished James Fairfax and the handsome Frank Churchill…

Last week Quirk Books, the publisher of the surprising best-seller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, revealed its next Austen mash-up would be Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, followed by Beautiful Books announcement of Murder at Mansfield Park on Monday. With recent deluge of Jane Austen inspired books, this writer like Austen’s character Mary Bennet, “wished to say something very sensible, but knew not how.”

Further reading

16 thoughts on “James Fairfax: A Gender Bending Alternate Regency Universe Will be the Next Austen Mash-up

  1. Please stop, please stop! Oh, I don’t suppose it does any good to ask. As long as publishers keep publishing these things, as long as readers keep buying them, there will be no end to them.

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  2. I’m sorry but I think this has got to stop! They are going too far! I mean can’t anything be done about it? I thought that those sequels where people pitched their fanfiction fantasies as the real thing and making money was the worst of it and now this…Ok, so if you want to write about a gay couple in Regency why don’t you come up with your own characters and write about it realistically without the whole commonplace gay marriage and gender-blind love? What have Jane Austen ever done to you to do something as horrible as this with her novel and characters? They are turning it all into a big joke and I’m afraid that soon people, who have never read Jane Austen will not want to read her works, because they will think that she is a joke.

    Maybe we should campaign against such travesty. The harm’s been done enough but maybe there is something that we can do to stop it.

    I’m not just talking as a fervent Jane Austen fan, but also as an aspiring writer of novels set in Regency England, who can’t get an agent because the Regency romance market is overpopulated with rakes, titled people, hot scenes and now vampyres, sea monsters and gender-bending couples.

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    • Farida, I understand your reaction. As long as there are customers there will be mash-up books and re-imaginings. The almighty dollar speaks. Even Regency times had their own ribald parodies.

      I fear there is little that can be done to prevent it and that is one thing I am happy about. I live in a country that honors free speech and personal freedoms, and if we have to overlook some things we personally do not agree with to appreciate the things we do, I am glad for it.

      I am sorry however, that you are unable to be published. As a book seller, I can tell you that gimmicks like vampires, sea monster and hot sex scenes do sell novels. They always have. I also sell a lot of classics and stories that Jane Austen would have enjoyed, so it all evens out for me.

      I wish you the best in your pursuit to be a published author. Don’t give up.

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  3. Thank you. I won’t.

    As important as freedom of speech is, I think that it shouldn’t overlap over respect and consideration for classics and I think that Jane Austen’s rights as an author should be protected like those of living authors. Then again, it all comes down to individuals and want they think they can afford to do moral-wise. I find selling sequels morally wrong. There are thousands of fanfiction sites were people are free to take their favourite and least favourite characters and do whatever they want with them. It’s done for fun and not for profit and everybody has a chance to express themselves in whatever way they like without limits. And if I wrote a novel with Jane Austen characters, I would never try to sell it, because I find it highly unethical. It has got nothing to do with freedom of speech but everything with what is right and what is wrong. No one tries to sell a sequel to a book of a living author without his/her consent, because it would be against the law and no one says that it somehow limits their freedom of speech and yet here we are with Jane Austen who is long dead and cannot protect her works. I do not deny that she would find a lot of books fun to read but whether she would allow to have them published is disputable.

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  4. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

    Laurel Ann, do you have to review these books? My fullest sympathies rest with you if you do.
    I now feel exactly like Charlotte Lucas when she marries Mr. Collins… resigned.

    I shall now take to my couch in aggrieved silence.

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  5. Wow… You’re so right about publishers “hitching their star to Austen’s prose” — that’s exactly how I see it, too. Great Austen fiction pays tribute to the original work while taking the plot in new, intelligent and interesting directions. Obviously I can’t say what the writing here will be like, but I can’t imagine I would be all that impressed. Yikes.

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