Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pride & Prejudice gets graphic

Nancy Butler (adapter), Jane Austen (author), Hugo Petrus (illustrator)
Marvel Books, 2009
120 pages

What would Jane think? Graphic novels are still new territory for me, but my experiences with Ethel & Ernest and French Milk have lead to some high expectations for the genre. Last week I read Nancy Butler's graphic adaption of the beloved classic Pride & Prejudice, recently published by Marvel Books. The story is all there - Elizabeth, Darcy, Pemberly, even Miss Bingley's offer to "take a turn about the room" - but somehow, it didn't feel quite right.

It's obvious that Butler knows Pride & Prejudice. And it's an impressive accomplishment to distill a classic novel down to 120 illustrated pages, include key phrases and passages, and manage to preserve the overall flavor.

My quibble is with the illustrations. They seem too modern to me - just take a look at the Bennet sisters! I know I'm probably in the minority here. My 19 year old daughter just loved them. But then again, middle-aged Janeites aren't exactly the target audience here.

That said, I do recommend this to fans of graphic novels, fans of Jane Austen, and anyone just curious to see how the two could possibly meet. As for me, I definitely prefer classics in a more traditional format, but I will continue to read the occasional (non-classic) graphic novel.


  1. The sisters do look a bit modern, but I think I *have* to have this book!! Thanks for reviewing it and for reassuring me that the GN has all the key bits.

  2. OMG. Well why not? Jane has found every nook and cranny in the literary world! I'm highly tempted. I need to read a few graphic novels for the challenge. Trouble is, I have about 20 on my list! I'm going to have to see if my library has this one...

  3. The reason that they look too modern is because they're drawn by comic book artists and that is the way the modern girl looks. The only reason I know this is that both of my boys are HUGE comic book fans!! Plus, this was put out by Marvel Comics. I have all of them...and loved them.

  4. If it works for the kids.... I remember back in the day reading classic comics. Treasure Island was much more fun illustrated as a comic book.

  5. Yes, it does look a little modern. But if it is true to the spirit of the original and draws in people who wouldn't pick up a "classic" it's probably no bad thing.

  6. Well, if I don't like this graphic novel, then I would have to say that the genre is not for me :)

    I have tried a couple in the past and I think I have narrowed it down to the fact that when I read a graphic novel, my senses are over powered. There is just too much going on for me.

    BUT...I will give it one more try :)

  7. My issue is that I can't immediately recognise which sister is which...

    I am gently engaging more and more with the graphic novel form but I am more inclined to read new stories (the two you have already reviewed are high on my wish-list) rather than a beloved one; I think this is of more benefit to those who have not read -and loved- the classic text and need a more accessible route into it.

  8. Not so keen on those illustrations either but love your clever post title. :)

  9. What fun to make it graphic! But what a sort of appalling lack (or excess, maybe) of imagination to make them look modern! Altogether, very interesting!

  10. I'm curious about seeing this one. And making Austen appeal to a youger generation is a good thing, right? It does look a bit modern for my taste, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

  11. Beth F - Yes, it's all there! Have always loved the "take a turn about the room" phrase.

    Sandy - Hope they do. It's a fun look at Jane in a graphic format.

    Staci - Well that makes sense! These were a lot of fun.

    C.B. James - Exactly! I didn't like comics very much as a kid, but my brother did. He loved the classics - especially The Count of Monte Cristo, I think.

    Fleurfisher - You're right! In fact, this may be the only way Twin B ever reads P&P.

  12. Molly - Graphic novels certainly aren't for everybody, and I can see where some of them could cause sensory overload. Will be curious to see what you think of this if you can track it down.

    Paperback Reader - It took me a while to figure that out, too! I'll be sticking with new stories for graphic novels in the future, too.

    Frances - Thanks :-)

    Rhapsody - I can see this appealing to teens that haven't read the novel. I'm sure they would be more likely to identify with these Bennet sisters!

    Stacybuckeye - Absolutely!! My daughters all love it!

  13. I'm so relieved to read that you despair over the illustrations. I was a bit worried that you liked this sort of thing!

    All joking aside, if this manages to attract the attention of a new generation of Austen lovers than so be it...I suppose. Although why their mothers wouldn't be sitting them down to the real thing really just exhibits a lack of parental guidance. Excuse me while I shift the whalebone in my corset....

  14. Darlene - You've made me laugh this afternoon! It was interesting to see how Jane adapts to this format, and I can see another generation of readers being drawn in. Hopefully, at some point, they'll discover the 'real thing' too!

  15. I'm not the biggest fan of Pride and Prejudice around, though I like the book, but my room-mate is. I'll recommend this one to her, and when she gets it, I can borrow it from her :)

  16. Hazra - I hope your roommate is able to find this... and that you get to take a look, too!

  17. I have to admit I'm Jane GN curious! I'm not a Janeite (nothing against Austen, I just never was hooked) ... I may look for this as an intro for my 13 yr old.

  18. Dawn - I think it would be the perfect intro for a 13 year old. She'd get the story in a very straight-forward manner and then, hopefully, decide to move on to the 'real thing'. I remember my brother reading a graphic version of The Count of Monte Cristo when he was about that age, then dove right into the 1500 page book!


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