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:

songofachilles

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.

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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.

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