Classics reclassified

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Trend Literary works now come in the form of fantasies, graphic novels, audio books and movies, and they are a huge hit with youngsters

A zany rebootFor Elizabeth and Darcy!
A zany rebootFor Elizabeth and Darcy!

The sale of classics is on the increase, thanks to the makeovers they have recently acquired. Anna Karenina for instance is now Android Karenina and is no longer just a tragic romance of Anna Karenina and Count Alexei Vronsky, but about them living in a world of mechanical butlers, extraterrestrial-worshipping cults, and airborne debutante balls. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has turned into Pride and Prejudice and the Zombies series while Emma is now more famous as Emma and the Werewolves and Sense and Sensibility is better loved as Sense and Sensibility and the Sea Monsters .

Graphic novels on the classics are enjoying a never-before high. E-books fly into e-reading devices for free. Audio classics are a dime a dozen. Teen movie adaptations of the classics are very popular too, such as She’s The Man or Get Over It , which are loose interpretations of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream respectively.

Says author Anita Nair, “Adaptations of the classics are fun if they are in a good format. If they are gimmicky, they denigrate the value of these books. After all, a classic is a classic because it has endured and it is not to be spoon fed to readers in a form that they are comfortable with. It defeats the very purpose of these books.”

Writer and classics lover, Jaishree Misra, however, says that making people read the classics could be a losing battle. “It is tough times in publishing these days and the classics stand no chance at all,” she explains, adding, “I recently heard of P.D. James’ Death Comes to Pemberly , being a whodunit take on Pride and Prejudice . In the hands of a talented writer such asJames, however, it’s hard to think of it as a cheap gimmick.”

We need to change our thinking, adds Vohra. “Reading a book is like nutrition. For example, if they hate broccoli (let’s call it a ‘classic’ for argument’s sake), they can get similar nutrients from another fruit or vegetable. As long as they get it, let’s be happy. The fact is, you can’t tell a reader what to think. You can only tell them what you’re thinking.”

Youngsters love the idea of zombies and sea monsters in the classics and many parents also feel it is fine to enjoy an alternate world set against an already famous one. But B. Kapur, consultant psychiatrist observes that violent fantasies may not be healthy for children, even in classic formats. “Reading is a wonderful habit and reading books set in a science fiction world can stimulate the imagination of young readers. But once it gets into the realm of violence, it can affect their personality. Parents should monitor what their children are reading, watching on TV or on the Internet.”


Adaptations of the classics are fun if they are in a good format

Anita Nair

Any creative work is out there in the universe. It is outside of the creator

Milan Vohra




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