- Georgie McNamara
One literature student’s opinion: The modern music tastes of your favourite literary icons
When Lizzy Bennet rejected Mr Darcy, would she have angrily stomped through her beloved English countryside to the latest Killers song, or is she more likely to have sardonically muttered the lyrics to ‘Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve’ under her breath? Does Heathcliff just scream heavy metal or are we thinking something a little more soulful for our brooding antihero of the Yorkshire moors? What about Jo March? Frankenstein’s monster? Clarissa Dalloway? Winnie the Pooh? I’m sure we’ve all had this debate at one point or another. I don’t know about you, but when you hit 4am at a flat party, hours after everyone probably should have left, the inevitable lull in conversation happens and suddenly you hear:
“I bet the Bennet sisters would have been Swifties.”
If this situation doesn’t sound somewhat familiar to you, firstly, just what HAVE you been doing? And secondly, your luck has clearly changed, because fate has conspired to bring you to an article that is going to set the debate surrounding some of your favourite characters to rest.
Artwork by Alison Laing (IG: @Alisonlaingart).
Let’s face it, I couldn’t write for an Edinburgh-based magazine and not include a character from our very own Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. We know Sherlock’s address, his singular fashion style, even his drug of choice. His modern music taste, however, we can only guess. It’s my opinion that twenty-first century Holmes unwinds after a long hard day of cracking cases with a mix of the Eagles, some Arctic Monkeys, a bit of Cage the Elephant and a dash of Hendrix thrown in for some spice. If there’s one thing these artists have in common, it’s that they are excellent to both brood and head-bang to, something Holmes does in equal measure. If he’s not answering ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ with an emphatic yes and eye-roll, then he’s going to be adjusting his pipe so he can mime the guitar solos in 'Purple Haze’ and ‘Hey Joe’.
It takes one Swiftie to know another, and I stand by what I said earlier: Elizabeth Bennet would be a hardcore Swiftie. She was almost certainly on her Vigilante Shit when she turned down Mr Collins. It was definitely Death By a Thousand Cuts for Lizzy whilst she wandered around the Pemberley Estate and (finally) realised what an utter dreamboat Mr Darcy is. I’d even go so far as to say that if you listen hard enough, you can practically hear ‘Call It What You Want’ playing when Liz smacks down Lady Catherine like the boss bitch she is. A love like Lizzy and Darcy’s never quite goes out of Style, and I can even picture their first Christmas together, Pemberley filled with the sounds of laughter, the clink of crystal glasses and ridiculously expensive silverware… and ‘Christmas Tree Farm’ playing in the background. Which is her T-Swizzle era, you ask? Why, all of them, darlings. At least, until you piss her off. Then you’d better be Ready For It to be Reputation all the way.
Our Heathcliff is probably the most mysterious figure on this list. Aside from the unexplained three-year absence where no one quite knows what the chap got up to (launching his pop career? Picking apart daisies while softly murmuring ‘she loves me. She loves me not’?), he is also notoriously reticent when it comes to talking about his feelings. That is, until they all come out in a flood of poetic chaos that makes one simultaneously clutch their pearls and swoon in equal measure. For that reason, I think Heathcliff would of course be a Smiths fan, but also a secret Adele listener. Even he will admit that it certainly felt a bit like Chasing Pavements where Cathy was concerned. U2 will also be making an appearance - maybe not ‘Beautiful Day’, but definitely ‘With or Without You’. Let’s face it, these two are the Ross and Rachel of Yorkshire, so they would without doubt stare out the window at the incoming downpour and marvel at how Cathy managed to give herself away to the wrong guy.
I imagine dear Jo with the most singular music taste known to man. I don’t doubt that she’d enjoy a Peach Pit or Bleachers song every now and then, but Jo knows better than anyone that you are what you listen to, and her taste would be more unpredictable than most. She’d start off her day right with some Maggie Rogers, sure. Yet by the time her elevenses hit, she’d have veered right into Lizabett Russo and Adia Victoria-territory and be humming Troubled Mind as she walked the streets of New York. The afternoon would see her relax with some girl in red, maybe a bit of Plumb for nostalgia’s sake, and in the evenings? Why, it’s got to be First Aid Kit and Brandi Carlile while she unwinds from a hard day of being the modern girl’s favourite fictional EveryWoman.
This may be controversial, but I see Matilda as a diehard rock and roll fangirl. She’s always been older and wiser than her years, so for me, it’s not hard to imagine that a more modern Matilda would have The National’s latest album playing in the background while she reads Great Expectations for the first time. The Beach Boys and The Killers have also got to be making an appearance - after all, there’s not a better song than ‘The Man’ for Matilda to rock out to once she succeeds in vanquishing Miss Trunchbull from Crunchem Hall. Dare I say, she would also join Heathcliff at a Smiths listening party? Should he be in one of his better moods, that is - we’d hate for Matilda to have to glue a hat to Heathcliff’s head after he’d told her to “go to the devil” when she asked to listen to their Greatest Hits album with him.