Saturday, January 15, 2011

Classic Novels: Defaced or Face-lifted?

I recently reached out to my Facebook friends asking for ideas on blog topics, in which they all let me down; except my super nerdy and incredibly intelligent friend Matt (whom I adore, since he'll be reading this). He sent me some links and offered the idea of modern pop culture changing our perception of classic books.

The links that he sent me were of articles showing the new cover of Emily Bonte's, Wuthering Heights. This new cover looks like it's part of the Twilight Saga and has "Bella and Edward's Favorite Book" on it. Now, I am all for creating a new book cover that will grab someone's attention but this Twilight thing has gotten wwwaaaayyyy out of hand.

The vast majority of people have read the Twilight books (whether they would like to admit it or not). But what does Twilight have to do with Mr.Darcy, Elizabeth Benett, or even Romeo or Juliet? Nothing! It's basically false advertising. Now I'll tell you, one of my favourite movies is Pride and Prejudice(2006) and I'm one of those people who screams "books are always better than movies." I have tried time and time again to read Pride and Prejudice but I never get far. The English always stops me. It's like reading Shakespeare, you have to be able to understand the English. So really, if this classic novel now appeals to the Twilight crazed teens, buying the book probably won't get them far if they can't understand the language it's written in. 

Along with revamped (he he pun intended) book covers, we have also been introduced to (fueled by the Twilight phenomenon, of course)the re-written books of classic novels. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies came out in 2009, followed by Sense and Sensability and Sea Monsters, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter. In theory, these books are a good idea; they take away the language barrier of the Old English and add a modern twist that appeals to people. Yet, to play devils advocate; it's lazy writing and kind of an insult to the original author. You wouldn't want to write an epic novel only to have someone just sprinkle some zombies into it and call it their own. Some might say that Bronte or Austin are rolling in their graves at their works of art being defaced.

I also believe that these 'Modern Classics' are a little overkill. It seems like every classic novel has been re-written. Yes, it's so lovely to ride on the coattails of the Twilight phenomenon and milk the idea for all it's worth. But seriously, everything is good in moderation; so stop. I don't want to start seeing Romeo and Juliet turning into vampires and dancing with werewolves while fighting off zombies.

In the end, I sit on the fence with this subject. I believe that the changes made to the classic novels are both defacing them and face-lifting them. Although I personally cannot grasp the language of the classics, doesn't mean I don't respect them. They're classics! You don't mess with the classics!  Yet, if the sales of these books have gone up and people are actually reading them, then that's great! But there's a difference between changing a cover to appeal to people, and re-writing the content of the book and putting your name on the page. But I know that alot of people don't share the same opinion. You decide, let me know. Share your comments.

1 comment:

  1. Overall I have yet to fully figure out if this is a good thing, or bad thing. If these covers inspire younger readers to read literature, and delve into the world of books more than they did before, then I'm all for it. More readers today lack a thorough understanding of classic literature, and I'm hopeful that when they do read it, they realize the time spent reading 'Twilight' was just a waste.