There is a move afoot by a British publishing company to reinvent literary classics like Pride & Prejudice, Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series, Jules Verne's science fiction novels, etc by sexing them up with erotic passages These rewritten classics will be called "Clandestine Classics" most appropriately. What Jane Eyre could subtly hint at in a sub-textual manner will now be openly flaunted. Thus, Elizabeth Bennet will find Darcy "hot and spicy" Dr Watson that great chamcha of Sherlock Holmes will be shown to have had the joy of knowing other men. Even Captain Nemo of 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea will have a passionate undersea romance. The publisher is of the opinion that the reader always waned to see the erotic undercurrent brought out in the open but this was denied to him because of the prevailing codes of Victorian prudishness.
We should see this development in the context of the spate of books on Vampires and Dark Knights, the staid Mills & Boon shifting from romance to bolder stories, even historical figures like Abraham Lincoln being shown as a vampire slayer, etc. The tastes of the reading and viewing public have no doubt changed over the last century and a half and the marketeers know what the buyer wants. But in this process the tinkerers of classics are moving away from the values, traditions and cultural mores which define the best of human society. What is the use of making a classic more appealing and in the process losing the charisma of the original? Would this not be some sort of sacrilege?
The argument in favour of revisionism could be that the present day generation is fast losing the reading habit and is addicted to movies, television, computer games, social networking, etc and to wean them from these and bring them back to the printed text you need some titillating stuff, not something which your grandmother might have enjoyed wearing long sleeved blouses with high collar, reading with a pincenez perched on her nose.
If one looks at the genre of fiction published these days, the old classics dont have the chance of a snowflake in hell of getting the attention of the youngsters addicted to hardcore erotica and violent games. So, this gimmick may work to some extent in reviving interest in classics. But then the authors of these classics would have turned in their graves !!
I had in an earlier post reproduced the classic fairy tale of Red Riding Hood as revised by Roald Dahl in his "Revolting Rhymes" Here is another example of his revolting rhyme- Cinderella Retold
I guess you think you know this story. You don't. The real one's much more gory. The phoney one, the one you know, Was cooked up years and years ago, And made to sound all soft and sappy just to keep the children happy. Mind you, they got the first bit right, The bit where, in the dead of night, The Ugly Sisters, jewels and all, Departed for the Palace Ball, While darling little Cinderella Was locked up in a slimy cellar, Where rats who wanted things to eat, Began to nibble at her feet.
She bellowed 'Help!' and 'Let me out! The Magic Fairy heard her shout. Appearing in a blaze of light, She said: 'My dear, are you all right?' 'All right?' cried Cindy .'Can't you see 'I feel as rotten as can be!' She beat her fist against the wall, And shouted, 'Get me to the Ball! 'There is a Disco at the Palace! 'The rest have gone and 1 am jealous! 'I want a dress! I want a coach! 'And earrings and a diamond brooch! 'And silver slippers, two of those! 'And lovely nylon panty hose! 'Done up like that I'll guarantee 'The handsome Prince will fall for me!' The Fairy said, 'Hang on a tick.' She gave her wand a mighty flick And quickly, in no time at all, Cindy was at the Palace Ball!
It made the Ugly Sisters wince To see her dancing with the Prince. She held him very tight and pressed herself against his manly chest. The Prince himself was turned to pulp, All he could do was gasp and gulp. Then midnight struck. She shouted,'Heck! Ive got to run to save my neck!' The Prince cried, 'No! Alas! Alack!' He grabbed her dress to hold her back. As Cindy shouted, 'Let me go!' The dress was ripped from head to toe.
She ran out in her underwear, And lost one slipper on the stair. The Prince was on it like a dart, He pressed it to his pounding heart, 'The girl this slipper fits,' he cried, 'Tomorrow morn shall be my bride! I'll visit every house in town 'Until I've tracked the maiden down!' Then rather carelessly, I fear, He placed it on a crate of beer.
At once, one of the Ugly Sisters, (The one whose face was blotched with blisters) Sneaked up and grabbed the dainty shoe, And quickly flushed it down the loo. Then in its place she calmly put The slipper from her own left foot. Ah ha, you see, the plot grows thicker, And Cindy's luck starts looking sicker.
Next day, the Prince went charging down To knock on all the doors in town. In every house, the tension grew. Who was the owner of the shoe? The shoe was long and very wide. (A normal foot got lost inside.) Also it smelled a wee bit icky. (The owner's feet were hot and sticky.) Thousands of eager people came To try it on, but all in vain. Now came the Ugly Sisters' go. One tried it on. The Prince screamed, 'No!' But she screamed, 'Yes! It fits! Whoopee! 'So now you've got to marry me!' The Prince went white from ear to ear. He muttered, 'Let me out of here.' 'Oh no you don't! You made a vow! 'There's no way you can back out now!' 'Off with her head!'The Prince roared back. They chopped it off with one big whack. This pleased the Prince. He smiled and said, 'She's prettier without her head.' Then up came Sister Number Two, Who yelled, 'Now I will try the shoe!' 'Try this instead!' the Prince yelled back. He swung his trusty sword and smack Her head went crashing to the ground. It bounced a bit and rolled around. In the kitchen, peeling spuds, Cinderella heard the thuds Of bouncing heads upon the floor, And poked her own head round the door. 'What's all the racket? 'Cindy cried. 'Mind your own bizz,' the Prince replied. Poor Cindy's heart was torn to shreds. My Prince! she thought. He chops off heads! How could I marry anyone Who does that sort of thing for fun?
The Prince cried, 'Who's this dirty slut? 'Off with her nut! Off with her nut!' Just then, all in a blaze of light, The Magic Fairy hove in sight, Her Magic Wand went swoosh and swish! 'Cindy! 'she cried, 'come make a wish! 'Wish anything and have no doubt 'That I will make it come about!' Cindy answered, 'Oh kind Fairy, 'This time I shall be more wary. 'No more Princes, no more money. 'I have had my taste of honey. I'm wishing for a decent man. 'They're hard to find. D'you think you can?' Within a minute, Cinderella Was married to a lovely feller, A simple jam maker by trade, Who sold good home-made marmalade. Their house was filled with smiles and laughter And they were happy ever after. ------------------------------------------------------------
Now, dont you think that is something children today would love?