Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Resurrecting the Classics

There are a number of characters having surfaced across the ages of literature who remain as timeless and relevant as ever. Either because of some essential relatibility or enduring charm, they have staved off the onset of being lost and forgotten among the personalities of so many unremembered stories. Not only are they still familiar to us in their original contexts but many have even been re-imagined by modern authors who, captivated by their tales, felt that their inken journeys were yet unfinished.

Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennet first seen in Pride and Prejudice is perhaps the most oft' revisited character in English literature having inspired at least five film adaptations including a 1940 film with Mary Boland, the BBC television special starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, the more recent film featuring Keira Knightley, the Bollywood inspired film Bride and Prejudice, and not least of all Bridget Jones's Diary (inspired by the book by Helen Fielding which was a modern re-imagining of Bennet's story).

But Austen's most well-loved story has not only been revisited on-screen. In fact there are many authors still writing who have picked up the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy where Austen left off. The beloved Mystery writer P.D. James recently published Death Comes to Pemberley wherein James imagines that Darcy's foe Wickham has been murdered and chaos ensues. Sharon Lathan also picked up where Austen left off in her Darcy saga which begins with Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Carrie Bebris writes mysteries featuring the literary power couple--her series kicks off with Pride and Prescience.

But Elizabeth Bennet is not the only character to have had an entire sub-genre of fan-fiction unfold on her behalf.

If you enjoyed The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jon Clinch's Finn explores the seedy characters surrounding Huck's father.

For fans of Sherlock Holmes Nick Rennison has compiled an Unauthorized Biography, imagining a Victorian London wherein Holmes was a real-life figure. In the anthology The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes beloved authors such as Stephen King and Peter Lovesey each contribute a new Holmes adventure. BBC has envisioned a modern retelling of the adventures of Holmes and Watson in the new television series Sherlock.

For those who prefer modern adventure James Bond and Jason Bourne have long outlived their authors.Carte Blanche (2011) sees Agent 007 going strong re-imagined by Jeffrey Deaver nearly half a century after the death of Ian Flemming who originally penned Bond's exploits. The Bourne Imperative (2012) is the most recent installment in Robert Ludlum's acclaimed series written by Eric Lustbader eleven years after Ludlum's passing. Both series have (of course) spawned lucrative film franchises which begin respectively with Dr. No and  The Bourne Identity.


Roberta said...

I'm reading The Innocents by Francesca Segal, which is a re-imagining (clumsy word) of The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. It's set in modern London, in the heart of a Jewish community where everyone knows, loves and appraises each other constantly. I don't think it's quite a match for the original, but it is very, very good.

Linda K. said...

I like to think of a little different type of classic, fondly remembered for it's charm and nostalgia - The Nancy Drew mysteries. The originals are fun and new episodes are still being churned out. I especially love all the "reference" books about the series and many of the parodies such as Chelsea Cain's "Confessions of a Teen Sleuth." (And of course there have been many TV and movie versions featuring Nancy and her chums.)

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