Thursday, April 28, 2011

Monsters are Invading the (Literary) World!

"Monster Lit" -- Classic Works, Now with Added Monsters!

Some people think it all started with YouTube.

The video sharing website that encouraged users to "broadcast yourself" made it easy to post videos. Off-the-shelf software made video editing simple, and people discovered that they could easily cut together video footage from two different genres -- say, Star Trek and Love Boat -- and get something possibly very entertaining. Thus was the video mashup born.

But mashups have been around long before that term was coined. In the world of literature, they are called pastiches: works that include characters or elements from other works, either in homage or as satire. A popular form of pastiche is for an author to write in the style of a famous author. Another popular pastiche is to put characters from different series or genres together -- a literary "culture clash."

The literary mashup went a new direction with the release in 2009 of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by "Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith." The work took Jane Austen's text and added "ultraviolent zombie mayhem!" The book was a surprise success, reaching the New York Times bestseller list. A followup prequel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith, also went bestseller.

And thus the monster mashup was born and now no favorite work, no matter how revered, is safe from the army of the undead and supernatural beings flying, running, swimming, and shambling toward the classics shelves. The mashups range in style from the original text with interjections of monster action, to entirely new works that give fresh insight into the characters and the cultures they lived in.

Publishers like monster mashups because they don't have to pay for the rights on the classic book -- once a work is in the public domain, anyone may legally use the text and characters.

Authors like mashups because they get to have loving revenge upon works that they had to write reports on in high school, and nowhere they take the story can be too outrageous.

And readers like mashups because -- they're fun! It's a matter of opinion whether mashups are hilarious or horrific (people sometimes mutter the word, "sacrilege") but no one can argue against the fact that monster mashups take beloved characters in entirely new directions.

Jane Austen was the first victim of this monstrous invasion, but the Bronte sisters, Louisa May Alcott, Lewis Carroll, Leo Tolstoy, and many other famous writers were soon assaulted, as well as some of the great figures from history.

It seems as though there are new mashup coming out every week.

Visit the Monster Mashups LibGuide to learn more about the

wide wild world of the monster mashup.

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