Reworking The Classics

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http://theaustenproject.com/

“The Austen Project pairs six bestselling contemporary authors with Jane Austen’s six complete works: Sense & Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Pride & Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion and Mansfield Park. Taking these well-loved stories as their base, each author will write their own unique take on Jane Austen’s novels.”

When I found out about the project I thought that it was a wonderful idea, to take a well loved classic and re-write the story from a different perspective. I think it will breathe new life into classic tales, that are at risk of becoming merely ‘ornamental’ features on the bookshelf . Personally, I’m guilty of collecting Jane Austen’s works and letting them gather dust, as I am often not in the mood for the Jane Eye after a long day at work.

The fact that other brilliant writers will take the time to lovingly craft another passage in each books story shows the lasting legacy of Jane Austen’s appeal. I believe it is a fitting tribute.

However, there are arguments for leaving a classic work alone and leaving the characters within a book unsullied by another authors touch. Some comments on the project suggest that it is ‘just an attempt to cash in Austen’s popularity rather than any serious literary venture.’ Or others suggest we are ‘dumbing down’ brilliant novels in an attempt to modernise the story. Or that it is merely laziness to take a story and wrap it up in different packaging.

But to this I quote another classic literary genius;

There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of coloured glass that have been in use through all the ages.
– Mark Twain, a Biography

The Great Book Challenge

 

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I came across this list (plus a few similar) a few months ago and it was interesting to see it floating around on social media. Everyone started trying to out do each other by getting a higher ‘score’ and it became a competition to see who had read the most books.
I wondered how many people were being honest or if they included books they had started but had given up on after the first few chapters.
Reading should never be a competition, where the prize is finishing the book. Reading should be the journey that the book takes you on.
The best books I have read are the ones that I hadn’t wanted to ever finish, because I didn’t want the journey to end.
They are also the books I read over and over again, eagerly turning the page despite knowing exactly what is around the next chapter.

Turn the Page


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What makes the reader keep reading after the first page? The first Chapter?
What keeps the reader reading when they should go to bed or  when their favourite program comes on TV?
I throw my poor characters into the middle of a crisis from page one. I hope the reader will stay long enough to find out if they are OK but they don’t know the characters well enough to care yet.
Writing is a manipulators game. Trying to buy the readers curiosity or empathy with promise of adventure or love.
I need to learn The Game and give my characters the best chance at life.

Literary Easter Eggs

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I read Stephen King’s ‘Dolores Claiborne’ straight after ‘Gerald’s Game’ purely by coincidence, without realising the connection between them. So it was a surprise to find the ‘tie ins’ between the books, for example when Dolores shared a telepathic connection with Jessie from Gerald’s Game, once during the solar eclipse and later when Jessie is handcuffed to the bed.

It was exciting to discover these literary Easter Eggs and it made reading the books more interactive, as I looked out for more connections between
other novels. I think it is also Stephen King’s secret bonus system to reward those readers that pay enough attention or read enough of his books!