A few weeks ago, I was introduced to a new YouTube show called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (thanks, Anne!), which is a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice, created by nerdfighter Hank Green and Bernie Su.
While I’ve had a copy of Pride and Prejudice on my shelf for quite some time now, I had never ever read it. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was signed up for a course in university that read the novel, but ended up dropping the course in favour of something else before it even started and just never got around to reading the book.
These days, though, it seems like there are lots of authors who do modern adaptations of such classic novels. Take YA author April Lindner, for example, she’s written two books that I’ve loved: Jane, which is based on Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Bronte), and Catherine, which is based on Wuthering Heights (by Emily Bronte). Now, I’ve read Wuthering Heights before, but not Jane Eyre; however, after finishing both of these novels, I wanted both a first read AND a reread.
Then there’s For Darkness Shows the Stars, by Diana Peterfreund, which is based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I adored Diana’s book and wondered why I had never checked out the classic.
This happens to me ALL THE TIME. I’ll finish a book, LOVE it, and then learn that it was based on a classic piece of literature (if I hadn’t known before starting) and it makes me want to read that classic! Sometimes I follow through, but most of the time I find myself in a search for another adaptation. Really, though, I should be following through and reading the classic — not only would that get some books on my shelf read, but it’s always nice to read the source, the inspiration, of a modern adaptation.
And this doesn’t just pertain to classic literature, but even to fairytales. How many fairytale retellings have you read? Do they make you want to read the source — the place where that story started? I took a course in university on children’s literature and read a lot of these fairytales, the originals written by the Grimm brothers. They are gruesome and dark — nothing like some of the retellings that I’ve read or watched over the years! But it’s still nice to know that for some of these stories (Hansel and Gretel being my favourite), I know where it started and I find it interesting to see what kind of liberties and author will take in their retelling.
How do you feel about modern adaptations of classic literature? Do they make you want to read the original?