Updating Wentworth for a Modern Audience: Persuasion in Fan Fiction
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This thesis is a study of Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion, and how it has been updated in two modern literary retellings, Amanda Grange’s Captain Wentworth’s Diary (2007) and Susan Kaye’s Frederick Wentworth, Captain (2007/2008). It explores the areas of literary adaptation and fan fiction, what characterizes each of these disciplines, and how these increasingly overlap, as exemplified in Grange’s and Kaye’s novels. The main part of the thesis includes a close reading of the adaptations and the ways in which they use, and stay close to, Austen’s original, while also modernizing the story to appeal to the twenty-first-century audience. The adaptations are both told from the point of view of Austen’s hero, Captain Frederick Wentworth, and the thesis explores how Kaye and Grange have updated the hero, as well as other aspects such as how they update the heroine and make the story more romantic. It also looks at the ways in which these retellings resemble other modern Austen adaptation, both on page and on screen. The study finds that both adaptations have stayed close to Austen, while also managing to update and modernize the story. Both novels straddle the line between professional adaptation and fan fiction, and thus signal a blending of these two concepts, as well as the increasing importance of fan fiction in the area of literature.