Dear Cassandra

My dearest Cassandra:

I trust by now you are become Revivified, and it remains only for me to find where you currently Reside. I shall furnish the Details of my own climb from the casket if you are in want of them, but suffice it to say for now that all of me made it Unharmed sav’d my right Arm. While I awaited a deft Tailor, I was eager to catch up on the news of the world, beginning of course with my own.

Imagine my astonishment to discover that my books are still read! But then, imagine my Chagrin to discover that the one selling the most copies at that moment was not my own, but a Contrivance of my book filled with . . . zombies. I thought the world did not know about our growing Secret Society!

It left me laughing with all my might, as I turned pages with my left Hand, and read my own Characters fighting against what We have become; Miss Burney here at my shoulder begs me ask if you have any better Notion than we who might be Reviving authors, and for what purpose, evil or no.

To resume: I was laughing, though I must take care. It won’t do to scatter Teeth into the tea cups. One has to mind one’s extremities until one is Accustom’d. As for Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, Mr. Dickens points out that it hardly seems fair that Mr. Grahame-Smith put fewer words in than I did, yet he gains all the Reward. As for me, I forgave all when I read about the Bennet girls and Mrs. Bennet dancing about as warriors from exotic Lands, but we all agree that Mrs. Bennet was a poor choice for Warrior. It should have been Lady Catherine.

I have not much to say about Sense & Sensibility & Seamonsters, as I did not recognize any of my characters in it, tho’ the names were all there. Mr. Winters invok’d a terrifying maritime world; Miss Emily Bronte favours that book above all for its horrific Atmosphere, but I am more Disinclined than ever to venture onto theAtlantean Billows, unless someone can faithfully Promise that Krakens are civilized enough to offer Tea.

I was far more amused at the outcry against Mr. Campan’s turning of Jane into James with James Fairfax. Pray, what do these readers think Mr. Thomas Bertram was doing when he was away instead of attending to business at Home? Do they not comprehend Mary Crawford’s jape about Rears & Vices? My own affront was at how my own words were slyly adjusted for the modern eye, but I forgave Mr. Campan his Presumption, for his Mr. Elton was far more interesting than mine, and the mistaken Scenes with him and Harriet Smith and Emma were amusing to a heightened Degree  with the added Misunderstandings.

Mrs. Birchall’s view of my Darcys and Bennets and Collinses is far the best of the many versions of my world that I have seen yet (and Cassandra, I have not seen them all, you will be astonished to Discover) in her Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma, though I do not believe Miss Darcy would have lost her wits as well as her upbringing in running to London in that way.

My favorite of all is the one with the longest title, Mansfield Park and Mummies: Monster Mayhem, Matrimony, Ancient Curses, True Love, and Other Dire Delights; we read that one aloud by Turns. Captain Marryat spit up a pancreas at one of Lady Bertram’s Antics, causing a disagreeable Commotion; for some reason I cannot fathom, that odd fellow, another Captain called Lawrence, whose exploits in Arabia I understand were fam’d a century ago, got into a brangle, and when I say that fists were Flying, you will understand that we all had to help pick them Up.

My Letter has got Long, and I do not wish to work my Fingers to the Bone. You will discover how annoying it is to fix them. So I will await your arrival Impatiently, for though it is mostly Authors here, family members have been arriving—those who have the wit, and the Brains, to motivate the journey.

Let me end with one last literary observation, that of the novels representing Myself, the most fun to be had was Mr. Ford’s Jane Bites Back, which presents me as a vampire! My only quarrel is with Lord Byron seeming to be in love with me, when he has scarcely paid me any but polite attention. He and dear Mr. Keats are often on the hillside, declaiming to the clouds with Mr. Milton.

Your loving sister—Jane

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Dear Cassandra — 8 Comments

  1. In vain have I struggled. It will not do. I appreciate your compliment to the heart; but what has my antediluvian sequel to do with projectile pancreases? It comes from a different age, before Jane Austen’s black-and-white-faced corpse was dug up and dissected, and her rotten stumps spread all over glossy book covers, dropping finger-nail parings like slivers of onion. Slime and gore were not so desirable as being Tidy, and “an artist does nothing slovenly” was what I strove for, not the autopsy, the golem, the mortifying flesh, and the stinking liver. My heroine was Lizzy, not Lizard; my hero Darcy, not Demon. Oh! could I only convert, and shed my prim and matronly skin like a were-writer, I, too, might hope one day to earn twenty-one dollars, and quite likely more.

  2. Helas! I ponder this dilemma, and suspect that the adventures of Mr. Demon and Miss Lizard might be got for those twenty-one dollars. If one’s finger-bones could just be trusted not to rattle like castenets.