Monday, December 10, 2012

Don't mess with the Classics....?

A post in today's Dear Reader column excerpting a new version of the classic Little Women story (Little Women and Me from Bloomsbury) had me thinking - is it a good idea to mess with the classics?

While the concept is nothing new, this book offers a time travel and interruption of the characters' romances, and does sound intriguing, but it made me think about the idea of recreating the classic.

The new stories may be well-written and have an interesting premise, but we love the classics for the story that is there. I loved Little Women and still cry whenever I reread it. Scarlett should've left Rhett alone.

Then there are the "mash-ups" - classics on horror steroids -  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.... Vampires and .... The Mummy and....

There are a ton of them. Good idea, bad?  I will be reading the Pride-Zombie book next though I have not read any others.

While some are good and come up with interesting, unique ideas, doesn't it still feel like - gasp - sacrilege - messing with the classics? We form a certain relationship with those books we grew up with or read at special times in our lives.  Sometimes we may want the book to have ended differently, so voila! A new version - so now we can?

But, it isn't what the author intended, is it? What about intentionally changing things that may be considered "offensive" today?  There was that move to "update" Twain's Tom Sawyer to remove the N words... but is sanitizing history, changing it to suit our modern sensibilities really the answer? Should publishers change classic books to suit today's readers?

Food for thought.... so what do you think?


Debra St. John said...

Interesting topic. I remember crying when I read "Little Women". That was the first experience I had when a novel touched me so emotionally. I'll never forget it.

I'd hate to think that future generations are missing out on anything because it might be changed to make it more timely.

I say leave the classics be. Part of them being 'classic' is them taking you to another time and place: language, politics, religion included.

Deb Larson said...

I agree - mostly to leave the classics as they are. But to read some have become very difficult. To read a Mark Twain book,one needs to know syntacs and it's easy to becomes discouraged simply trying to read the dialogue that is written phonically - or so they say. There's a reason publishers frown on using too much slang - it becomes outdated too quickly.
DL Larson