scarlett o'hara

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What if the greatest characters in literary history all carried around smart phones and typed out messages to each other? That’s the conceit of the new book Texts from Jane Eyre. Author Mallory Ortberg knows it sounds gimmicky, but she loved imagining how Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester might have texted.

“It’s just re-imagined dialogue that I think all of these characters would absolutely say in a slightly more familiar context,” Ortberg explains.

Texts from Jane Eyre also include lots of texts from other characters in other books. Because Ortberg is well versed in Western classics, that includes texts between Gilgamesh and Ishtar, Sherlock and Watson, Captain Ahab and Ishmael, and Nancy Drew and her long-suffering boyfriend, Ned.

The project came about when a friend who’d relocated to the South told Ortberg it was like living in Gone With the Wind, but with cell phones.

“I just immediately thought, ‘Oh God, Scarlett O'Hara with a cell phone would be horrifying,’ ” Ortberg says, clearly as amused as she was horrified. “And it was something that actually ended up in the book.”

See below:

Scarlett O'Hara:
ashley
ashley
ashley
ashley r u there
ashleyyyyyyyy
(i’m DRUNK (from brandy))
remember that time we made out in the barn

Ashley Wilkes:
Scarlett, it’s four in the morning and I have to get up in two hours to run your mill
Please don’t text me this late

Scarlett O'Hara:
oh i sold the mill
haha
did i not tell you that

Ashley Wilkes:
Oh my God.

Scarlett O'Hara:
did you know that pantalets are out this year
that’s why im not wearing any :)

Ashley Wilkes:
OH MY GOD

If Literature’s Great Characters Could Text, They’d Charm Your Pantalets Off

Illustration credit: Madeline Gobbo/Courtesy of Henry Holt & Company