Giving Classics Their Well-Deserved Twist


Can you imagine reading about zombies and all sorts of sea monsters in the middle of a Jane Austen novel? Or do you expect to read about Animal (the talking ones) rights and other political brouhaha on the journey to Emerald City?

Truly, a writer’s imagination knows no limits. Nothing is sacred for them. Not even classic novels that have shaped the minds and hearts of their respective generations.

But these novels are lacquered with something brilliantly fresh, breathing new life into our favorite classics. Whatever it is seems not only to affect readers but also the writers themselves. Take Gregory Maguire for example. The author of the wildly successful “Wicked,” just can’t seem to stop churning out these re-worked stories—from the supposed son of the infamous wicked witch of the west (Son of a Witch) to a new beginning for one of Cinderella’s stepsisters (Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister).

Seth Grahame-Smith, the author of the Austen horror novels that have been springing out of bookstores lately, has also caught the bug it seems. From his critically acclaimed “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” (which he has kindly shared credit with Austen) to his newly released “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” it is apparent that there will be no stopping to this soon.

These are only some of the more well-known titles. There are more.

Growing it Local

Indeed, there’s something challenging and intriguing about injecting your own plot, your own sense of humor and your own brand into these well-loved classics.

Can you imagine what would happen if our local classics were to undergo such an overhaul? Think about our world-famous “Noli me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo.” How do you think people will react to writers injecting elements of Filipino folklore like the “aswang” and the “kapre” into them? Will they fight alongside Crisostomo Ibarra or will they be part of Padre Damaso’s army? Or will the characters themselves have the ability to transform into the said creatures?

Ibong Adarna,” another classic, seems all too ripe for outsider meddling as well. If you could give this “corrido” a facelift, what would you do? Would you turn Donya Maria, Donya Leonora and Donya Juana into a trio of sirens? Or would you turn the Ibong Adarna into a terrifying winged-monster?

The possibilities are endless! You can be sure that high school’s required reading would be all the more interesting as well.

Comments, Suggestions and Violent Reactions

Meddling with a classic doesn’t automatically gain you the public’s love, mind you. Everything depends on your “interpretation.” But writers already know this. You can’t please everybody.

Fans of your work would probably worship you and all of your books (even if only one of them did good). They would buy your books for their collection and buy even more editions to give out on special occasions.

Purists would probably raise their fists in anger, start a facebook petition or maybe even stage a week-long rally to ban these “updated” versions altogether. From their point of view, you have just given them and the long and respectable literary tradition the finger.

But then again, don’t most novels start out that way? (

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