Emma – Nancy Butler

EmmaNancy Butler, Janet Lee, Jane Austen
3/5 stars
Received: Gift
Publication Date: October 12, 2011
Publisher: Marvel
Division 4 and up

Ok, so, here’s my problem. I love Jane Austen. I love all of her novels. So much so, that when I left one of the schools that I was student teaching at, the students got together and gave me a beautifully illustrated hardcover copy of Austen’s complete novels. I may or may not have shed a few tears. And since I love Jane Austen so much, and since I learned to love her stories in their original form, I had trouble engaging with the story in graphic novel form. This may be because I’m not a graphic novel person, or I may be a Jane Austen snob.

That being said, this would be a great way to introduce people to Jane Austen’s stories. Many of my friends’ problems when trying to attack an Austen novel for the first time is the language barrier. Yes, Austen wrote in English, but it is very different from how we speak English today, and that scares some people. The nice thing about the graphic novel is that it tackles the visualization barrier, so readers don’t need to worry about misunderstanding who is speaking, where the characters are, or what physically is happening in the story. Half the battle is already fought for the reader.

Although this may be a nice way to ease into Jane Austen, I still felt like a lot was lost in the movement from traditional novel to graphic. Humour is an essential part of Jane Austen’s work, and a lot of the comedy was absent in the graphic novel. This might be because of the transition itself, or it may have been a result of who was adapting the work.

So, to sum up: Marvel’s Jane Austen graphic novels are great introductions to Jane Austen for those who are fearful of the original language, but lots get lost in the movement from traditional to graphic novel.

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