A new take on some old classics

Kirkus Reviews  recently ran an article on “Books That Tweak Great Classics.” They included Longbourn, a novel about the servants at the Bennet family house in Jane Austen’s Pride and PrejudiceHavisham, a prequel to Dickens’ Great Expectations featuring Catherine Havisham; and Ransomabout the Trojan War, among several other titles. 

As the Kirkus piece says, “Writers are always borrowing from one another, across centuries and continents.” Using a great work of literature as a springboard is a popular method in literary fiction, and it is often used successfully. Here are a few more titles, not included in the Kirkus list, whose authors, I think, pulled off the experiment:


In a related sub-genre of literary fiction, historical fiction authors often take real people as their subjects. These books are usually well-researched; the facts are accurate, but the author has imagined the character’s emotional life beyond what can be gleaned from primary or secondary sources.

This is just a start; I’m sure I’ve left many out. Have you read a contemporary novel that is in some way related to a classic? Or a historical novel that centers around a real person from history? Share your favorites in the comments. Or, if you can’t think of any but you like the idea, use any of the links above to request a title and start reading.

This entry was posted in Books. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A new take on some old classics

  1. John White says:

    Jane Smiley’s “A Thousand Acres” is a retelling of “King Lear.” I have to admit that I was about halfway through the book before I realized it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s