Retelling a story is nothing new, thank Hollywood for basically coming up with nothing new in the movie industry for the last 20, 30, 40 years?
However, I cannot get enough of literary retellings of my favorite books! Why is this? Now, do not get me wrong, there are PLENTY of bad revisions of the classics, (they are classic for a reason), but lately, I have struck gold.
I have been thinking lately-wow, how did I miss that. Well, I am only human, and I can only read so much. But lately, authors have been thrusting classics with a twist in our faces, and I have been eagerly gobbling them down.
Perhaps I have loved this genre (is that what we are calling it? Well I am), since I first watched “10 Things I Hate About You” which was the modern take on Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew”. This 1999 classic has everything you’d expect in a high school drama, but with historical origins.
Being a classical literature nerd, (really, yeah), I first had to push aside my prejudice of the idea of someone trying to tamper with the original. Why mess with a good thing? True, I used to think that way until I realized, if I did not like it, I could always stop, and pick up the classic again.
Last year saw the rise of Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, giving the Bard’s murky history some clarity to readers. Her take on Shakespeare’s family that was left behind while Will went off to seek his fame and fortune. Would go on to inspire him to write the tragic play-Hamlet.
This summer, the publication of Lyndsay Faye’s novel The King of Infinite Space, is a magical spin on the classic Hamlet. Faye’s adaptation of the classics is set in New York City, with all the characters set upon the stage, with a queer twist.
Jane Austen is no stranger to having her novels be reinvented. Bridget Jones anyone? However, Sonali Dev’s Recipe for Persuasion brings a latest rendition of Austen’s final novel Persuasion. Dev’s version of Anne Elliot is chef Ashna Raje, and the dashing Captain Wentworth is now FIFA winner Rico Silva. Everything Austen wrote and more is packed into Dev’s romantic novel.
This final novel analysis is not really a remake, it plays along the same lines as a certain series of books that involve a boy wizard. Please, do not confuse Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On for Potter fan fiction, because it deserves to be raised well above that level. While still geared towards young adults, Rowell’s approach slates the novel more towards the older end of the spectrum. I really enjoyed that Rowell created this realm to be more inclusive of what we consider the “normal” world, where magicians use the internet, mobile phones, and drive. Additional, Rowell also garners that queer twist so delicately that it fits in so neatly with the story arch.
So the next time you think about dusting off a classic, why not check out a modern interpretation?
Thank you De’Andre Bush (Hollywood) and Madalyn Cox (Harry Potter books) from Unsplash for photo use.