Classics Furor, Why Now?

We’ve all seen them, the classic books that have been around forever re-written with new twists: zombies, vampires and scandalous mysteries. Now a publisher has added eroticism to the list, and suddenly the airwaves are alive with discussions about how wrong this is. Was it wrong to have Little Women and Zombies? Was it wrong to have Jane Austin herself solving mysteries? What about Mr. and Mrs. Darcy being exposed to murder.

No, it’s the sex.

It doesn’t matter if the writing is better, or worse. It doesn’t matter if it’s creative or not. It doesn’t even matter if the couples are gay or heterosexual. What matters is that they’ve taken a classic and made it sexy.

Now I do this with my own writing. I take classic fairy tales, modernize and make them hotter. And I’m not the only person doing this, why is there no furor about fairy tale’s being re-written. And I’m certainly not the first. When Ann Rice re-wrote Sleeping Beauty into an erotica (not a romance btw) people were scandalized, but I don’t recall the furor of today’s book banning conversations.

So is it really about the sex? Or is it about the combination of sex with certain classics. Are certain books untouchable?

I think that’s it. Fairy tales have been for children, so jazzing them up and changing them around doesn’t bother anyone. And even worse, Jane Austin’s books are romance. And we all know that women writing about romance aren’t truly classics. No, it’s when you take a book that was written by a man, then add the sex, we see the drama.

Actually, Total E-Bound’s new catalog is filled with women’s classics. Jane Eyre and Pride and Predjudice are both there. But I think if they had stuck to purely romance and women writers, they would have been ignored. By adding classics such as Sherlock Holmes, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, that’s where I believe they opened themselves up to the raging criticism. Or possibly it’s the way these books are written. The actual text from the original authors remains mostly untouched, the erotic authors have simply added their own “extra” scenes.

Twists or adulterous versions, what do you think? Why are these particular books causing such a uproar? And what about the talk about book banning? Would you ever consider banning a book? Why?

Links to critical reviews:

Five Questions For Total-E-Bound

Brontë Bondage: Classic Literature Gets 50 Shades of Grey Treatment

I wrote this blog based on the rumors that these books were being trashed in the mainstream media, but when I went to search for links to the articles, they were hard to find. Instead  I mostly found supportive interested columns. Maybe there isn’t as much furor as I thought. Here are a few supportive links:

Sex sells: Total-e-Bound’s Clandestine Classics

Fifty Shades of Grey meets Pride and Predjudice: classics get erotic rewrites.

Weighing in on the Controversial ‘Clandestine Classics’ Issue…

The Classics Exposed…Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne and Marie Sexton

twenty thousand leagues under the sea by jules verne and marie sextonProfessor Pierre Aronnax, world-renowned Naturalist, is part of
an elite team of men commissioned to investigate a series of
attacks on international shipping. Are the attacks the work of
some ancient sea monster, or is this “monster” actually a
manmade vessel? No one is certain, but either way, Pierre’s
assignment is the same: find it and destroy it.

The hunt soon becomes tedious, and Pierre is distracted by Ned
Land, a sexy and temperamental harpooner who has his sights set
on the Professor. The two begin a passionate affair, but an
encounter with the creature they seek changes everything.

Professor Aronnax, Ned Land, and their friend Conseil find
themselves held hostage aboard The Nautilus, a secret submarine
helmed by the mysterious Captain Nemo. For Pierre, life on The
Nautilus is ideal. He spends his days studying the sea’s
wonders, and his nights with Ned, discovering a passion he’s
never known. But how long can it last? Captain Nemo is reckless,
and Ned is determined to escape. Caught between two charismatic
men and the opportunity of a lifetime, Pierre will have to
choose: leave The Nautilus, or lose the man he loves forever?


Filed under Moonday mania

9 responses to “Classics Furor, Why Now?

  1. Great post, Jessica.

    What’s the saying, there are only 3 kinds of stories in the world? To revive a classic boldly and without disguise is like a garage band singing a classic Stones tune.

    As for the re-written classics, ie, Sense and the Sensible Super Zombies (yes, too lazy to google the actual title), I have no interest in zombie books, so I continue to the next shelf.

    Abraham Lincoln as a vampire slayer strikes me as truly odd, but the steampunk/historical aspect (love the era) appeals to me, so I might take in the movie.

    Long ago I read several Sherlock Holmes mysteries and enjoyed them, yet I loved the new Sherlock with Robert Downey Jr. (and adore RDJ!) and I really like BBCs series set in modern times, starring Benedict Cumberbatch., but the snoring old movies? Blech.

    Wonder what Arthur thinks?

    • Arthur ended up hating Sherlock Holmes. He desperately wanted to write something else but I believe even the Queen asked him to write, “just one more”. I still love the Basil Rathbone BBC Sherlock series, but the new BBC series rocks! I missed the Hound of the Baskervilles, due to a recording error and I can’t wait until they re-run it. Or they get them in at the library. Whoever came up with that one was very talented.

  2. Marie Sexton

    From what I’ve seen, it’s actually the opposite of what you said: slashing something like Holmes or Jules Verne doesn’t anger people as much, because that’s leaving the original intent, but adding a romantic subplot (much like adding zombies to a romance with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). That can be seen as all in good fun. What really seems to get people up in arms is taking “classic” romances and adding the sex, because it drastically changes the dynamic of the relationship between the two leads. It alters the actual original plot and intent of the original story. It’s taking (potentially) a strong female lead and turning her into a submissive, or vice versa. It’s taking the really quiet subliminal sexuality of the classics and bashing it again the wall in favor of on-screen orgasms. THAT is what seems to piss people off.

    (BTW, none of that reflects my personal opinion on the matter. That’s just the criticism I’ve heard the most.)

    As for banning them: PLEASE ban my book! PLEASE!! Because there is nothing that will make people rush out and buy a title like telling them it’s just too darn naughty for them to read. 🙂

    • Hi Marie! I think this has definitely given your book, and the others, lots of boost. I mean really, if they hadn’t come under such criticism would so many people be talking about it? I watched the latest version of Jane Eyre the other day and I was shocked at the control and dominance. This is what I based my adolescence on? Wow! Amazing I’m not writing BDSM classics too!

      I think the Bronte’s definitely knew about the dark side of life. After all, they weren’t able to be published as women, only as men. Why? Well, a woman couldn’t possibly have written something like that!

  3. I am not bothered in the least by the twist on a classic. I haven’t heard about the “furor”, but I tend to ignore grumbling by purists.

  4. Interesting, Jessica. I can’t imagine banning a book, although there are many subject matters I would not want to see in print. We have the choice to purchase or not.
    I can read an erotic fairy tale and not associate it in any respect with the tale I told my children, so I say go for it. Remake. Redo. Recreate. It’s in our nature.

    • I think so too. I wonder how many stories we think of as original have been re-written over and over again. Fairytales for sure. There are versions of the same story all over the globe, each with their own cultural twists you could write a thesis paper on it. Likely someone already has!

  5. Pingback: Have Two Paroxysms And Call Me in the Morning | JessicaAspenWrites

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