“Reader, I married him” is the low-key climax of Charlotte Brontë’s gothic, proto-feminist novel Jane Eyre.

My very own Rochester-flavoured popsicle. Pic: Supplied

In a new “erotic re-imagining” of the book called Jane Eyre Laid Bare, the climaxes are of an altogether different nature. It’s more a case of: “Reader, I ravished his candlesticks, perved on his private bondage orgies, then spent 77 pages rogering him silly.”

Released by Pan Macmillan in Australia this week, the publication is the latest in a long line of steamy novels billed as mummy porn.

Book sales suggest these texts are indeed popping female readers’ corks – despite the fact that the prose is decidedly flaccid. (Most are guilty of 50 shades of bad writing at the bare bottomed minimum.)

Like R-rated revamps of other classics such as Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Jules Verne’s seamen-filled Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jane Eyre Laid Bare involves a dumbing down and an (alleged) sexing up of the original.

Eve Sinclair – the author listed after Brontë on the front cover – wastes no time on literary foreplay. She has the novel’s straight-laced heroine orgasmically exploiting the agreeable jiggling of Mr Rochester’s horse-drawn cart in the opening pages.

The erotic encounters that follow come fast and furiously. Actually, make that fast and stereotypically. Aching loins, trembling buttocks, willing tunnels… At one point Mr Rochester’s throbbing member is described as busting loose from his britches like a “great sea serpent… attempting to rise up and break free from the deep”.

Oh, dear. Where are those harpoon-happy Japanese whalers when you need them?

We all know that the slapstick inelegance of the average sex act makes it virtually impossible to translate this sweaty endeavour into suave fiction. But the clunky pornification of Bronte’s masterpiece is particularly objectionable because the novel in its virgin state already sizzled.

Not because of the quaintly antiquated mentions of muffs, black beaver bonnets and the joys of Madame Pierrot’s “fluent tongue”; but because it is full of explicit encounters involving the sexiest organ in the human body – the brain.

Like the fiery verbal jousting between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, the feisty intellectual combat between the self-possessed Jane and the Byronic Mr Rochester are extraordinarily arousing.

Having them shag each other senseless every second strips them of all their smouldering understatement, rendering them indistinguishable from the generic throng of rent-a-genital stars in other pornography.

At one particularly low point, Sinclair throws historical continuity to the hounds and has the master of Thornfield Hall give his governess an oh-so-twentieth-century Brazilian pubic trim.

Reader, it’s unutterably wretched.

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45 comments

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    • Mike says:

      07:54am | 20/09/12

      Dumbed down ?  Should be a bestseller then.  It seems people can’t get enough of fan fiction dressed up as reality or six foot albinos running around an art gallery. 

      In short, most people are dumb and fall for filling their heads with this drivel, instead of reading a book which might educate them about how to be a better parent or have a better relationship with their partners.

      When you see it in “buy em in, flog ‘‘em off” large volume, large discount bookstores soon after publication (as I did recently), you know that you’re on a winner.

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      01:42pm | 20/09/12

      Well said Mike. To put it bluntly, these books are for stupid people, which the authors know there are a lot of, being stupid themselves. Albeit slightly less stupid as they make money off the real stupid ones.

      What pisses me off, is that people equate large sales figures with something actually being good. Just because something is popular, doesn’t mean it’s good. I don’t think 50 Shades and whatever this bullshit is will be winning any literary awards any time soon. Rick Astley was somewhat popular once too. Think about that shit.

    • Tubesteak says:

      07:58am | 20/09/12

      So this is like pron parodies?
      I’ve found some pretty funny versions of Scooby Doo with Bree Olsen and a 70s porn version of Alice in Wonderland. They are a laugh riot.

    • Emma says:

      08:01am | 20/09/12

      How very dare they! My 93 year old grandfather would keel over at this desecration of one of his favourite novels.

    • Amy says:

      08:28am | 20/09/12

      Oh please.  This isn’t mummy porn.  It’s fan fiction.  BAD fan fiction.  And it’s nothing new.
      From my recollection this has been going on since at least the sixties for many of the Regency/Victorian authors.  There’s a few good rewrites/sequels - the Wide Sargasso Sea for example.  And many many awful ones…...

    • Joan Bennett says:

      08:28am | 20/09/12

      I can never understand why anyone is “turned on” by porn.  We are the ugliest species (that’s why we buy so many clothes) and who wants to watch other people have sex?.
      With regard to the original “mummy porn”, 50 Shades of Grey, I think it is very disturbing that women find the idea of being abused and humiliated arousing.  Any that are should seek pscyhological help immediately for poor self-esteem issues.

    • John F says:

      09:12am | 20/09/12

      you have some body issues right ! Sorry but it’s just you, the rest of us love the look of the human body.

    • Bomb78 says:

      09:49am | 20/09/12

      Joan - I’m glad I don’t know you.
      What does or does not turn other people on isn’t for you, me or anyone else to denigrate. I can’t understand the attraction of bondage either, but to those consenting adults that enjoy it, good on them.
      And the human species isn’t beautiful? That’s just sad, I feel sad for you.

    • colin says:

      10:08am | 20/09/12

      @John F 09:12am | 20/09/12

      “...the rest of us love the look of the human body…”

      Especially your own, hey John..?

    • Jeremy says:

      10:20am | 20/09/12

      Having been in the BDSM scene for quite some time, I need to tell you that 90% of the men and women in it are overflowing with self-esteem, and self-respect. It takes alot of a person to put themselves in a proper SM encounter or relationship, and a lot of self-control. I started submissive, but have become dominant because I found so few dominants that did what I wanted them too. It’s fun being at either end though.
      Also, we where clothes because we’ve lost our body hair and many of us refuse to live in the climate we evolved for.
      p.s. What I don’t get is that in proper BDSM there is usually very little sex, not 50 Shades constant sex. For many the whole point is arousal without penetration (or very delayed), but I guess that would work even more poorly on the page?

    • Meh says:

      10:59am | 20/09/12

      You know if The Telegraph gets it’s way they are going to hunt down and shoot Trolls with extreme pride & prejudice.

    • John F says:

      11:52am | 20/09/12

      @ Colin, well I am rather delicious lol

    • iMitchy says:

      12:58pm | 20/09/12

      “There are even some creepy people out there . . . who think that ‘We are the ugliest species . . . and who wants to watch other *people* have sex?’ “

      Joan, Joan, Joan. Tut tut.

      Bernardi might have been on to something….

    • Lola says:

      01:16pm | 20/09/12

      I’m imagining the legions of bored, suburban tubby-mums thinking they’re being introduced to quality fiction with the lite version of a classic. Just add a (large) boxy of Cadbury Roses, and the scene is complete. The reason the genre is successful (today anyway) is that it’s been marketed as something other than porn (which is isn’t) to over the hill, out of shape women, and their similarly chubby unfit husbands live in hope of a bit of slap and tickle that might result once the juices get flowing. Full marks to the cynical authors/marketers here - they’ve tapped into a new facet of the ‘sex sells’ paradigm.

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      01:50pm | 20/09/12

      “but I guess that would work even more poorly on the page?”

      Jeremy you give the author of 50 Shades too much credit. I think it has more to do with the fact that the author has absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. I’m not into it but I clearly know more than her about most things. How to construct a coherent sentence for one.

    • the cynic says:

      04:32pm | 20/09/12

      Joan Bennett . Are you a direct descendant of Queen Victoria or anyone of the millions of other woman from that era per chance?

    • marley says:

      04:44pm | 20/09/12

      @the cynic:  umm, isn’t everyone?

    • Mahhrat says:

      08:31am | 20/09/12

      Can we please do away with the term “mummy porn” and just call it “porn”?  It’s a sexist term that derides both genders, not to mention childless women.

      [Stereotype alert]

      Women like to imagine sex, men like to see sex.  It’s all just sex.

      Stop criticising it and being ashamed of what makes you hot and bothered, and just go enjoy what you enjoy with consenting adults. 

      How hard is it?

    • Pedro says:

      01:13pm | 20/09/12

      @mahrat
      “How hard is it?”

      Snigger snigger.

    • Tanya says:

      01:19pm | 20/09/12

      It’s not that there’s anything wrong with porn, Mahrat. It’s the audacity of an author and by default, their publisher, to leverage from a classic in the production of poorly written smut.

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      02:58pm | 20/09/12

      “Can we please do away with the term “mummy porn” and just call it “porn”?  It’s a sexist term that derides both genders, not to mention childless women.”

      Exactly Mahhrat. I for one know of quite a few single, childless idiots who read this shit.

      “Stop criticising it….”

      Yeah I’m going to go ahead and keep criticising it for the literary abortion it is.

    • John F says:

      08:35am | 20/09/12

      Mummy porn smile it’s got to be good for us men so I’m all for more of it wink
      Can’t wait for the movie’s, it should steam up the evenings lol

    • Sam says:

      08:56am | 20/09/12

      “R-rated revamps of other classics” - I get a laugh out of the names of porn movies they have based on popular fiction and movies.

      Blown in 60 Seconds
      Buffy The Vampire Layer
      White Men Can’t Hump
      Riding Miss Daisy
      On Golden Blonde
      Throbin Hood

    • John F says:

      09:15am | 20/09/12

      Flesh Gordon, loved that movie, great space ships lol
      NASA should look into them !

    • Tubesteak says:

      12:32pm | 20/09/12

      Googling the names of these movies could be one of the funniest hours you’ll have all week

      Some of them are pure comedy gold

      Good Will Humping
      Saving Ryan’s Privates
      Cliffbanger
      Lord of the Rings….oh wait….that was the real name

    • iMitchy says:

      01:01pm | 20/09/12

      I love the brain storming session in Zach and Miri…

      Lawrence of Alabia
      Big Trouble in Little Vagina

      ...and plenty more in the deleted scenes.

    • Chris L says:

      01:14pm | 20/09/12

      The Penetrator: “I’ll come again!”

    • Tubesteak says:

      03:10pm | 20/09/12

      Pulp Friction

      Seriously, I’ve seen this movie back in 1997. It wasn’t very good. I think it had Woody Long in it

    • Ally says:

      09:09am | 20/09/12

      These sound so stupid. So it’s basically like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies where next bits about Elizabeth beheading zombies was inserted in to the original text?

      Jane Eyre is one of my favourite books. As you note, it’s full of passionate encounters and that’s hotter than any tawdry shag scene. And doesn’t having the main characters shag undermine the principles of both Jane and Elizabeth? Jane turns down Rochester’s suggestion of being his mistress because she has respect for herself, and Elizabeth condemns her sister Lydia for running and living with Wickham without being married. Or have those scenes been helpfully removed as well?

    • CorBlimey says:

      11:43am | 20/09/12

      I agree - the implied aspects which encourage us to use our imagination are far more exciting than having it spelled out in lame text like “sea serpent”, “willing tunnel” or “trembling buttocks”. 

      What’s next? Jane Eyre in text-speak for the next generation? Can’t w8 4 that 1!

    • Anna C says:

      09:20am | 20/09/12

      What’s so wrong with wanting to spice it up a bit?  Some of those Jane Austen’s sure could use a bit of rogering.

    • Cath says:

      09:45am | 20/09/12

      OMG I never thought I would agree with anything you wrote, Emma Jane, but with you 100% on this one!

    • John from Vaucluse says:

      11:06am | 20/09/12

      The best novel since Dead Set ... maybe Corey Bernardi could could make the link ... mummy porn ... fondness for the dog ... necrophilia ... or am i just flogging a dead horse.

    • Tubesteak says:

      12:34pm | 20/09/12

      As long as you don’t want to marry that dead horse then I am sure Bernardi is with you

    • Tanya says:

      11:46am | 20/09/12

      Beautifully said, Emma Jane.

      I can understand that motivation for a writer or a filmmaker to take a character such as Jane Eyre and place her in a different context or expand on an aspect of her character to explore potential outcomes. But it would be a courageous and sacrosanct project even for the most passionate academic with an intimate knowledge of the character and author.

      I tried to read 50 shades of grey to see what the hype was about but I couldn’t manage it. Apart from the prose deficit, one of the most repulsive things was the creation of a character with a literature degree through which E James attempted to convey some level of literary academe. Apart from blushing until her face is ‘the colour of the Communist Manifesto,’ every so often the bondage victim embarks on a sort of soliloquy where she wonders what Jane Eyre or Tess of the D’Urbervilles might have done if they were in her situation.

      The only way to come to terms with it is to understand and accept that publishers have a target audience and the target audience isn’t anybody with an education in literature. But shame on Pan MacMillan.

    • Ducks says:

      01:00pm | 20/09/12

      It was incredibly cringeworthy. Despite repeatedly pointing out that the heroine has a high GPA with a literary degee, it uses cliched phrases and words such as literally are constantly misused.
      “I was literally on top of the world”
      “She literally half melted into the couch”.

      The best description I have heard of the books was the analogy that it’s like a bad mid-day movie. You know it’s going to be terrible but you started watching it, and then despite how bad it is and the constant cringeworthy moments, you want to find out what happened. So you sit and watch it to the end, hating yourself for doing it. Only to reach the end, realise it never did get any better, was as disappointing as you expected and you just wasted 2 hours of your life.

    • dancing4vangogh says:

      12:55pm | 20/09/12

      Not mummy-porn, whatever that means, but appallingly written fiction. With what passes for intelligent fiction these days, the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen would be rolling in their graves.

      Mind you, I would not have minded Michael Fassbender’s Mr Rochester reveal all in the 2011 film version of Jane Eye.

    • colin says:

      03:16pm | 20/09/12

      Q. What would Jane Austen do if she was alive today..?

       

      A. Scream in terror and scratch madly at the lid of her coffin.

    • SLF says:

      01:34pm | 20/09/12

      So there is a whole genre of this coming forth? I for one am looking forward to King Leer,  Nineteen Eighty Four Play and A Town Lick Alice

    • Dan says:

      01:39pm | 20/09/12

      Wow, some of the commentators on here (Joan, Tanya and Ally) seriously need to get laid! Why does someone have no self respect because they enjoy sex? Its a natural act like eating and people who find it repulsive, or demeaning either aren’t doing it right, or simply have some serious hang ups. I’d suggest you find someone you connect with and trust, talk about your wildest fantasies and have the mind blowing amazing sex that we all deserve.

    • colin says:

      03:00pm | 20/09/12

      @Dan 01:39pm | 20/09/12

      And you’re The Man for the job, hey Dan..?

      Respect.


      Oh, that was sarcasm by the way…

    • Tanya says:

      03:13pm | 20/09/12

      Thanks, Dan, my sex life is fine and I love erotic fiction and lots of other types of fiction when it’s well written. I also accept the fact that the best writers don’t always make the best seller list. My issue is with people who can’t write at all making the best seller list.

    • Saints 98 Demons 42 says:

      01:42pm | 20/09/12

      I had to study Jane Eyre for the School Certificate.
      Nothing could make Jane Eyre interesting !
      Jane Eyre was a painful bore.

      Even Kate Middleton is more interesting !

    • Tubesteak says:

      03:25pm | 20/09/12

      I had to read Jane Austen. It was worse.

      Dickens was a good read

    • Saints 98 Demons 42 says:

      01:44pm | 20/09/12

      Kate Middleton looks good in the nude.
      Jane Eyre is not so interesting

 

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