Retold Classics, posted by Maureen Lang
August 1, 2012 Leave a comment
This past month, my book club selected a title that was billed as being inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic story, The Scarlett Letter. I admit I voted for the title, because the premise sounded fascinating. A modern day take on an old, successful story filled with characters who were both complex and sympathetic.
Many classic stories have inspired modern retellings—in movies and literature—and some have been wonderful. West Side Story for Romeo and Juliet; Wicked, revisiting The Wizard of Oz; My Fair Lady, a retelling of Pygmalion, to name a few.
On the surface, I think it’s an appealing concept. Take a classic idea that no doubt worked for a very good reason (it was a good idea!) and bring it to our own era. But it’s a tough act to live up to, and I must admit the book I just finished was sadly lacking.
I think reading tastes have changed since many of the classics were written, when people had less competition for things to fill their leisure time. But somehow even with the somewhat formal, even stilted language some of the classics offer, there is something wondrous about the use of language that make so many of those old books withstand the test of time for me.
Have you read any modern re-tellings that have worked for you? Seen any new versions of an old movie that worked, perhaps better than the original? I saw both of the Snow White movies that released this year, Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman, and enjoyed them both even though they departed from the Disney version I was more familiar with.
I’d love to hear about a modern-day take on an old classic that really sparkles, so if you have any you’d like to share, I’m all ears! Or should I say I’m all eyes, considering I’ll be reading any suggestions? If you’ve loved a retold classic, tell us about it!