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Old 10-23-2013, 03:27 PM   #31
MSWallack
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I'm going to disagree. I think that it may be a good idea. Have you ever watched a teenager or someone who isn't a "die hard" reader try to read any of the classics? It's an instant way to turn that person off, not only to the book in question, but to classics in general, and even to the whole idea of reading. I'm not suggesting that these new modern versions should replace the originals, but if they get people to read the stories, then isn't that a good thing? Perhaps they'll then be inclined to go back and read the originals?

Or think of it this way: We don't expect people to read Tolstoy in Russian if they don't speak Russian; we don't expect people to read Dumas in French if they don't speak French. A modern audience, especially a younger modern audience, doesn't speak Victorian or Georgian English either. I guess we have to ask whether the books are being read, at least in part, for their content and not just for their writing style.

Again, please don't think that I'm suggesting that the originals be dumped or replaced; but I think it would be far better for people to have an entree to books that they might otherwise pass by than for those books to begin to pick up more and more dust on library shelves.
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Old 10-23-2013, 03:29 PM   #32
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Cane we call the The Austen Powers Project?
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Old 10-23-2013, 04:47 PM   #33
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Poohbear_nc summed up my feelings on this on the first page pretty well.

If I had done a rework of the original stories, I'd be accused of plagiarism (and rightfully so). But because they're advertising and marketing the books, it's all A-ok and on the up-and-up.

I don't see the difference.
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Old 10-23-2013, 05:08 PM   #34
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Poohbear_nc summed up my feelings on this on the first page pretty well.

If I had done a rework of the original stories, I'd be accused of plagiarism (and rightfully so). But because they're advertising and marketing the books, it's all A-ok and on the up-and-up.

I don't see the difference.
No, you wouldn't be accused of plagiarism, because it wouldn't be plagiarism. Disney didn't plagiarize when they made their adaptation of Pinocchio. It would only be plagiarism if you took the work and pretended that you created it out of whole cloth. I recently purchased children's version of Moby Dick and the Odyssey for my daughter. These adaptation are not plagiarism, and neither is this one. They are in the public domain, anyone can come out with their adaptation.
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Old 10-23-2013, 06:37 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by MSWallack View Post
Or think of it this way: We don't expect people to read Tolstoy in Russian if they don't speak Russian; we don't expect people to read Dumas in French if they don't speak French. A modern audience, especially a younger modern audience, doesn't speak Victorian or Georgian English either. I guess we have to ask whether the books are being read, at least in part, for their content and not just for their writing style.

Writing style.
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Old 10-23-2013, 06:45 PM   #36
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Precisely. Does the existence of "West Side Story" damage "Romeo and Juliet" in some way? I seriously doubt that even the most rabid defender of Shakespeare could come up with a reason to suggest that it does.
Didn't I see that Ovid was suing Shakespeare for plagiarizing Pyramus and Thisbe?
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Old 10-23-2013, 07:54 PM   #37
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Writing style.
I read Jane Austen when I was young, as I did Dickens, Shakespeare, Lucy Maude Montgomery and Louis L'amour and many others. Mainly because the books were there in my house or my grandparents house. Even at 10 or 12 I didn't find them excessively boring or offensive or even hard to understand.

Sure adapt them and turn Pride and Prejudice into a Harlequin Romance.

As Catlady said the value is in a good part the writing style and possibly some insight into how Jane Austen thought. Take that away bit by bit and eventually you have 50 Shades.

Helen
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Old 10-23-2013, 09:03 PM   #38
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"The Austen Project" is setting out to rewrite Jane Austen's six classic novels for a modern readership. Each of her novels is being tackled by a different author; the first, which has just been published, is a rewrite of "Sense and Sensibility" by Joanna Trollope, with the next being "Northanger Abbey" which is being adapted by Val McDermid.

For more information, see http://theaustenproject.com/
That's pitiful - a further example of catering to the lowest common denominator of the reading public.

See Mr. Bennett.
See Mr. Bennett read a book.
Mr. Bennett is in his library.
Mr. Bennett has many daughters.
It is very noisy in Mr. Bennett's house.
But it is quiet in the library.


I guess I must have been a child prodigy because I read Austen when I was about 14 and actually understood what I read, in the style it was written.
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Old 10-23-2013, 09:48 PM   #39
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That's pitiful - a further example of catering to the lowest common denominator of the reading public.

See Mr. Bennett.
See Mr. Bennett read a book.
Mr. Bennett is in his library.
Mr. Bennett has many daughters.
It is very noisy in Mr. Bennett's house.
But it is quiet in the library.


I guess I must have been a child prodigy because I read Austen when I was about 14 and actually understood what I read, in the style it was written.
I was also a teenager when I first read Austen and, I enjoyed her style and wit.
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Old 10-23-2013, 11:08 PM   #40
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That's pitiful - a further example of catering to the lowest common denominator of the reading public.
And why shouldn't the lowest common denominator be catered to? Since the printing press was invented, people have been selling books to the lowest common denominator.

But this isn't the lowest common denominator, that would be considerably lower. No one is taking away Jane Austen in the original. This is a tempest in a teaspoon.
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Old 10-23-2013, 11:21 PM   #41
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I'm not suggesting that these new modern versions should replace the originals, but if they get people to read the stories, then isn't that a good thing?
Why is it a good thing that people read those stories in particular, whether original or re-written?

A "classic" is just a story, and isn't something so important that the message needs to be translated by other authors. The re-writes may be wonderful to read, but that will be down to the new author's writing style, and nothing to do with the original material.
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Old 10-23-2013, 11:34 PM   #42
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I'll just stick with my Classics Illustrated comics.
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Old 10-24-2013, 12:59 AM   #43
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And why shouldn't the lowest common denominator be catered to? Since the printing press was invented, people have been selling books to the lowest common denominator.

But this isn't the lowest common denominator, that would be considerably lower. No one is taking away Jane Austen in the original. This is a tempest in a teaspoon.
They should be served, just like any other aspect of the reading public - but not catered to. Dumbing-down classics just because some folks don't want to take the time and effort to appreciate and learn a writing style, or to learn a bit of history or about society from an earlier age does them a disservice because it is spoon-feeding them pablum.

As much as I'd like to read "Ivanhoe", I just can't get into that book. But if someone rewrites it so that I can breeze through it, they aren't doing me any favors, because I'm not experiencing the author's words or voice. I'm merely reading story; they are removing the other dimensions of the work. Sort of like eating an entree that is missing the umami.

Classics Illustrated is a completely different thing. That is a transformation into a new medium.
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Old 10-24-2013, 01:57 AM   #44
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I don't see the point. Part of the flavor of a book is the vocabulary that the author used in writing it. To change that would be like making a copy of the Mona Lisa in crayon and trying to say it's as good as the Michaelangelo original. When I was in Jr. High school I remember I came across a copy of a book of Shakespeare's plays that had been written in modern English. To me it just fell flat. I think it would be the same with any other classic author whose works were re-written in contemporary English. Yes there is a learning curve when antiquated words are used in a text like say Le Morte D'Arthur, but at the same time having to look those words up to find their proper meaning can draw the reader deeper into the story in the long run.
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Old 10-24-2013, 02:03 AM   #45
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Why is it a good thing that people read those stories in particular, whether original or re-written?

A "classic" is just a story, and isn't something so important that the message needs to be translated by other authors. The re-writes may be wonderful to read, but that will be down to the new author's writing style, and nothing to do with the original material.
I agree to a point, but I think you are wrong about a "classic" just being a story. There is something special about a "Classic " book that stands out from the rest of its contemporaries and makes certain that it doesn't just fade away and be forgotten. "Classics" are books that are still being read several hundred years (at least) after the author has laid down his/her pen for the last time. We often say (book title) is a modern classic but I don't know how we can be so sure about that. A book that is popular does stand a better chance of staying in print and becoming a classic, but it is only with time that a book is really found to qualify as a "classic" book I think.
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