Is It Fanfic If It’s a Classic?
This post talks about Daphne du Maurier’s REBECCA and Charlotte Bronte’s JANE EYRE. If you haven’t read both and you don’t want to be spoiled on the endings, then stop reading right now. (But really. They’ve both been around for long enough that if you don’t know the ending and worry about spoilerage, I really hope you’re fifteen or younger 🙂 )
So… Last night, we watched the 1940 movie of REBECCA, which I’d never seen before. I was amused to see how clearly I remembered the book — down to most of the dialog. The first time I read the book was in ninth grade, but I know I re-read it at least twice in high school. (As an aside, in an interesting mini-documentary after the film, I learned that Hitchcock originally adapted the novel to be very different from the book — he changed the story, created new scenes that emphasized the psychological dimensions of the events, and generally created a derivative work (in the copyright sense) — until David O Selznick told him, “We paid a lot for the book, and we’re going to use it, thank you very much.”)
Some time before I first read REBECCA, I first read JANE EYRE. (We had to read WUTHERING HEIGHTS in eighth grade, and that set off a spate of Bronte-reading among my friends…)
So how is it that I didn’t realize REBECCA was the same story as JANE EYRE until last night?!?
Young girl, orphaned and alone. Experienced man, sweeping her off her feet, taking her from obnoxious protector(s). Spooky haunted house, with areas girl is not supposed to go. Revelation of existence/nature of crazy (ex-)wife. Fire destroying house (and naivete, and the old way of doing things, etc.)
I was an English major. I’m supposed to parse these things in my sleep. But I don’t remember anyone ever commenting that these stories are THE EXACT SAME STORIES. I’m sure they did, and I just ignored them. But wow. Eyes now opened (and I can see, because, you know, Maxim wasn’t blinded. Big difference in the stories there 😛 )