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Adaptations of classics


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I'm new around here, so I hope I'm posting this in the right place!

 

I've written 10 historical romances, but my new one, Darcy's Diary, is somewhat different because it's based on Pride and Prejudice, and it tells the story from Darcy's point of view.

 

What do you all think of adapting classics? Do you have different views on adapting for screen, and adapting for a different kind of novel?

 

Surprisingly, perhaps, I don't really like the idea of sequels or alternative viewpoints, because I know that nothing can ever live up to the original, but although I don't like the idea of it, I'm hooked in practice! If I love a book enough, I want to spend more time with the characters.

 

I'd be interested to hear other people's points of view, also to chat about various sequels etc

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I can understand the fascination in taking a well known character and writing about him/her from a different point of view but, for me, it is rather like copying an old master - an interesting exercise to do for oneself but not for anyone else. I know there are successful examples of this - sorry, can't remember them at the moment - but it isn't a genre that has ever attracted me.

 

Are all your novels published? Perhaps I could read one and be converted! Interesting subject for this forum - thanks.

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I think this is an interesting topic. There are many examples of literary texts providing inspiration for new works - the most obvious example is probably 'Jane Eyre' and 'Wide Sargasso Sea' where I think the latter becomes a new novel in its own right very successfully. It works because it uses the first novel as an inspiration but then develops in directions of its own to explore further ideas first raised by Bronte. I can see no problem at all with this; in fact, I think it's dangerous to view texts as somehow sacrosanct and untouchable. So many brilliant writings have their roots in other works eg few of Shakespeare's plays have original plotlines but it's what he does with his raw material that matters. I think this is true, also, of film or TV adaptations - the best don't slavishly try to be 'authentic' but rework the material to reflect a new interpretation. The most recent TV 'Pride and Prejudice' was hardly authentic Jane Austen, but cleverly brought the novel up-to-date and cast a modern eye on the issues that Austen raises. I don't think that detracts from her achievement, but it does acknowledge that values and attitudes change and forces the reader to engage actively with this complex but fascinating area. And it doesn't have to be a full-scale follow-on. So many works are full of allusions and references to other works - part of our rich cultural tapestry as writers and readers.

 

Of course, like all writing, this can be (and has been) done badly (I recall a toe-curlingly bad TV adaptation of the 1970s of 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' which even the brilliant Alan Bates couldn't redeem), but that doesn't negate the basic idea. And if Jane Austen continues to inspire readers and writers in whatever form - then rock on, as far as I'm concerned!!

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OOOOoooo, interesting topic!

 

I think I'd agree with Ade that it is a good sign when there is still enough interest in an old book for people to be reinterpreting it and adapting it to their own time. In a way every time a book is read it is being readapted in that person's mind and everyone sees slightly different or very different things in a book. But that also makes it so hard for someone else's adaptation to stand up to your own mental picture so I admire your bravery!... I read a bit of 'Darcy Takes a Wife' ages ago but really regret it now :o as it was a waste of money (i've now sold it!) and it gave an interpretation of Darcy that I totally didn't agree with! Its hard to do Darcy justice because he's so mysterious and that's part of his charm, he can be whatever you want him to be!!! ;) On the other hand, I can understand why people still try to, and I hope your book does well!!! :)

 

And Wide Sargasso Sea is one of my least favourite books see my comments here: http://www.bookgrouponline.com/forum/showthread.html?t=878 and here: http://www.bookgrouponline.com/forum/showthread.html?t=1094!

 

On films, I don't mind an adaptation reinterpreting a book, even if it is quite radically, as long as the filmmakers have properly looked at the book and its meanings and considered why people love it, and not just used it as a name and a marketing ploy. It really annoys me when the actors don't even read the book, it just seems discourteous to the author. Maybe that's why fan lit is popular with Austenites, even if you disagree with someone's interpretation, at least you know they love the original.

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'Wide Sargasso Sea' is quite a good example of a book written as a 'back-story' to a well known novel, and concentrating on a pivotal character who only makes a brief appearance in the original.

Less successful, I think, is 'Rebecca's Tale' by Sally Beauman. This is supposed to be the story behind the disappearance of the first Mrs de Winter.

 

Both of these books have been mentioned on BGO before, but not discussed at length. They can be found on page 2 of the Central Library, in the thread entitled 'Books you wish hadn't been published'

 

One other which comes to mind is 'A Thousand Acres' by Jane Smiley, which uses a classic plot (King Lear) and makes a whole new story. Same themes, but completely new characters, location and era.

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The Jane Smiley is another good example. There are numerous examples of Shakespearian plots being used successfully - 'The Lion King' is a good one - a contemporary reworking in terms of story, genre and medium - and as the plot wasn't original to Shakespeare in the first place anyway, then what's the problem?

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Brum, yes, my books are all published - details on http://www.amandagrange.com - but only Darcy's Diary is based on someone else's book. If you'd like to check it out, see Amazon! :)

 

I've read a few sequels I haven't really liked, but on the other hand, I love Tom Holt's Mapp and Lucia books, which are just as good as EF Benson, imo.

 

JA seems to have spawned more follow-up literature than almost anyone else. I wonder if it's because she has strong female characters, or whether it's because so many people love her books that when they become writers/film producers etc they naturally want to do something based on her work. Or maybe it's because the stories are so easy to update, eg Clueless, because of timeless situations and characters.

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  • 4 years later...
The Jane Smiley is another good example. There are numerous examples of Shakespearian plots being used successfully - 'The Lion King' is a good one - a contemporary reworking in terms of story, genre and medium - and as the plot wasn't original to Shakespeare in the first place anyway, then what's the problem?

 

I like both those books

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I'm open to this style of book. I've got March (geraldine brook) sitting on my to read shelf which is about the father of the girls in little women.

 

I remember having to write missing scenes or from a minor characters perspective for English Lit at school. It was always an interesting activity.

 

I happen to be a big fan of books that take well known characters and put them into different contexts. I think that Good Omens and American Gods are good examples and so if Jasper Fforde's Thursday next collection.

 

You do have to forgive the author sometimes for not interpreting a person as you expect but as with the film adaptations sometimes you end up with a new version of a character that becomes indepantly very interesting.

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