Friday, October 15, 2010

Judging A Book By Its Cover

I was at Big W the other day – I know, I’m such a trendsetter – and I saw this in the book section:

Is it smart marketing, or is it false advertising? Are the girls who read Twilight really going to buy this book? If they do, are they going to get further than a few pages into it? For girls who love teen angst and allegedly sexy non-threatening vampires who sparkle, are they going to get Darcy? More importantly, are they going to get why Lizzie gets him?

And let’s not forget the language issue. I can read novels that are a few hundred years old and not be thrown by the language, but – and I’m totally bragging here – I can read this:

Hwæt, ic swefna cyst secgan wylle,
hwæt mē gemætte to midre nihte,

syðþan reordberend reste wunedon.

It's English too. My point is, while you won’t find any archaic words in Jane Austin, what you will find is language used in an entirely different way than we use it today. The structure of the novel has changed a lot. Can you imagine Pride and Prejudice being published today? It has way too many words, and not enough action sequences. It doesn’t matter that it’s brilliant, of course it’s brilliant, and it’s also funny, and sympathetic and sharp. But it’s not what’s published today. And that’s okay. Twlight wouldn’t have got a look in during the Regency period. In that respect, I suppose, Pride and Prejudice was the Twilight of its time. It’s what the girls would have devoured. But that doesn’t mean that the girls of today will devour it the same way.  

I can see the argument behind it – anything that gets them reading has to be a good thing – but I’m not buying it. I think that any girl so obsessed with Twilight that she will buy this book because of the cover is going to be very disappointed with what she gets. 

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I didn’t buy this book. I, and several million other people, read Pride and Prejudice way before it was cool. 

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