Classics for Beginners discussion

Have you read a book inspired by a classic?

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message 1: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) Finished listening to Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie yesterday. A romantic ghost story inspired by Henry James' classic novella The Turn of the Screw.

Other books I've read (off the top of my head) inspired by classics were Megan Shepherd trilogy:

1) The Madman’s Daughter inspired by The Island of Dr. Moreau

2) Her Dark Curiosity inspired by The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

3) A Cold Legacy inspired by Frankenstein

message 2: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 23 comments For me, there is the inevitable Bridget Jones's Diary which is of course a re-working of Pride and Prejudice.

I've always felt that North and South, despite being a classic itself, had a lot in common with Pride and Prejudice as well.

I'm waiting for On Beauty to arrive at the library. I've heard it is inspired by Howards End, which I recently finished.

message 3: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad has inspired many books and movies. The one book I have read is A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul.

message 4: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
Loretta wrote: "I tend to keep away from books like this. After all, the classic is a classic and shouldn't be tampered with in my opinion. :)"

It is not necessary tampering with the original, but rather using a thought or idea from a book as a springboard for another story. Heart of Darkness has been the inspiration for many books and movies about the evils of imperialism, yet all are different. There are few original ideas in literature.

message 5: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
I have never read a book that was truly original according to your definitions. You are very harsh on writers.

message 6: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 73 comments We have this conversation a lot in the fantasy genre. Many of the big name series- The Sword of Shannara, The Eye of the World, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever, etc. are based closely on the plot and characters of Lord of the Rings. Personally, I feel cheated if I read a book that is clearly built on another I've already read, but many people say that the formula makes them happy, so why change it?

Often, self-published authors get huffy and join the conversation by claiming that it is the only possible formula for a fantasy novel. Joseph Campbell is their go-to authority for this excuse.

message 7: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
Jane Austen, herself, would tell you she was influenced by authors of her day. She created works that were influenced by others, but with a special viewpoint of her own. The books themselves did not come entirely within the recesses of her mind and spring, like Minerva, fully developed.

message 8: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
I actually never said that no writer can have an original thought. I said that I have never read a book that was truly original according to your definitions. Your definition said that any auther who used "any idea from a previous classic as a springboard is an author who is capable of writing English in prose formate, educated in literature but incapable of an independent thought or idea."

One of YOUR examples of an original writer was Jane Austen, yet she was influenced by Fanny Burney, among others: According to your own definition, she is undeserving to being consider an original, classic author.

This discussion began because you said, "I tend to keep away from books like this (books inspired by a classic.) After all, the classic is a classic and shouldn't be tampered with in my opinion." If others want to continue this fruitless conversation, they are welcome to do so.

message 9: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) Loretta - I think you are being very limiting. There are some excellent books where people reinterpret a classic in a new setting, or take a character from a piece of classic literature. For instance Mr. Timothy by Louis Bayard takes the character of Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol.

Some great authors are reinterpreting classics. For instance, Margaret Atwood has an re-interpretation of The Tempest coming out this fall which I am dying to read.

I have heard there are really only a few plots. So, I imagine there are really no original books out there any more. I think it's fun to read books where they use a classic as a springboard. Some are just inspired by the classic, some reinterpret it, etc.

Emily -- I hope this conversation isn't fruitless.

message 10: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) *rolls eyes*

message 11: by Mark (new)

Mark André One of the best examples of this 'purloined classic' idea is James Joyce's ULYSSES where he is suppose to have borrowed the story from Homer's ODYSSEY.
Critics also claim Joyce 'borrowed' "stream of consciousness" from a predecessor and that many stylistic techniques - especially the hallucinatory effects in Circe - are 'borrowed' from Flaubert's TEMPTATION.
But, when you read Ulysses you are not likely to be reminded of the Odyssey. (If you have read Temptation you probably will recognize the italicized stage direction technique recycled in Ulysses.) But overall what Joyce is re-using he seems to be re-using it in his own personal way: unique to his needs, for his art.
What was the question? Yes. Ulysses.

message 12: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
Great example, Mark.

message 13: by Rory (last edited Sep 01, 2016 08:26AM) (new)

Rory (thefauxpoe) | 6 comments I remember first reading Vera Caspary's Laura and apparently it was inspired loosely by Wilkie Collin's The Moonstone (especially through it's shifting narratives).

message 14: by Blueberry (new)

Blueberry (blueberry1) I read The Gap of Time, which is from the Hogarth series, of rewritten Shakespeare books. It began in 2015 and includes books Vinegar Girl, Hag-Seed and Shylock Is My Name. Some of the itles still to come will be written by Jo Nesbo, Gillian Flynn, and Tracey Chevalier.
Shakespeare wrote very little oroginal material. Maybe only The Midsummer Night's Dream. He sourced his plots and characters from historical accounts and classical texts.

There is also a current rewriting project called The Austen Project that includes authors Alexander McCall-Smith, Curtis Sittenfeld, Joanna Trollope, and Val McDermid.

message 15: by ☯Emily , moderator (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 772 comments Mod
It was interesting to learn in my Ancient Greek theater class that the great playwrights, like Sophocles and Aeschylus did not create original works, but got their ideas from their ancestors' stories. They would take a myth or legend and rework to create something both familiar and new for their audiences.

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