A Guide to Learning to Like Classic Literature

September 24th, 2012

          Often when we hear the words “classic literature” we think of stories from a past, relatively uneventful, time period. Or we just collectively yawn in response to the thought of literature and zone out. Either way, classic literature sometimes appears uninteresting due to the time period, or just wholly unappealing due to the language used. Therefore, here is a guide to learning to like the classics.

            The first thing that you should know on your journey to liking classic literature is that even though you may, at first, see these classics as just old books that used to be important or interesting, these books can still be found deeply interesting and fun to read. But if at this point you are still completely adverse to the classics, maybe this list of my most beloved adaptations will be the last chance to help you find your own way to appreciate the classics.

 

New Spins on Classic Tales

Literary Adaptations

            While classic literature itself may not be for you, the overall theme or a different spin on some of the classic stories presented in a new literary way by could possibly be your forté! And with these Quirk Classics books, liking classic literature may be easier that you think.

 prideprejudicezombies_l

Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies

            Written by Seth Grahame Smith, the author of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, this book is a must read that recreates the classic story of Eliza Bennet and her haughty counterpart, Mr. Darcy. This time when we visit the quiet town of Meryton, we see that a plague has fallen on the English countryside, and the ever fierce Eliza Bennet has to fight against not only social adversity and misunderstanding, but also the dreadful zombie scourge. Although they are written by Stephen Hockensmith not Seth-Grahame-Smith, there are also two other delightfully dreadful books in this series; a prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls, and a sequel, Dreadfully Ever After.

 

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Android Karenina

If zombies aren’t the thing to get you in to classic literature, surely this steam-punk reinvention of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy with a C3PO type twist will grab your attention. Here is a brief description of the novel:

“[...] our story follows two relationships: the tragic adulterous romance of Anna Karenina and Count Alexei Vronsky, and the much more hopeful marriage of Konstantin Levin and Kitty Shcherbatskaya. These four, yearning for true love, live in a steampunk-inspired 19th century of mechanical butlers, extraterrestrial-worshiping cults, and airborne debutante balls. Their passions alone would be enough to consume them-but when a secret cabal of radical scientific revolutionaries launches an attack on Russian high society’s high-tech lifestyle, our heroes must fight back with all their courage, all their gadgets, and all the power of a sleek new cyborg model like nothing the world has ever seen.”                            - GoodReads.com

Cinematic Adaptations

Luckily for us, the television and cinema world are more than ready to tackle these classics and breathe life into them in a way that people can connect to more easily, also. The only trouble with this is that it is hard to find out which films or television adaptations are accurate enough to be called adaptations. Here to help are a few films and television programs that have, in my completely biased opinion, been re-done well enough to illicit a spot on this list.

 

 

Television

 sherlock

Sherlock

Created by Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat, and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, and Una Stubbs, this modernized retelling of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is absolutely fantastic. While still set in London, this series follows an erratic 21st century Sherlock Holmes (Cumberbatch), and his equally impressive companion, John Watson (Watson), from how they became the infamous crime-solving duo, to the great detective’s fall. Returning to filming in the spring for the third season, this program is a definite watch for those who love shows like CSI, The Mentalist, and etc. Also, if you are interested we have a copy of the first season here at the IU East Library

 

Films

 

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Dracula

            Based on one of the many influential novels that kick-started the whole horror genre, this adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, is a great introductory for delving into classic horror and science-fiction literature. The plot follows the original vampire, Count Dracula as he stalks a young woman named Mina, in victorian England.

 

            lord of the rings

The Lord of the Rings

Directed by Peter Jackson, and starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellan, Viggo Mortenson and others, these adaptations, that grossed approximately $872 million dollars with just the first of the three films, are another set of exceedingly good literary film-making. The books, along with the films, follow a brave Hobbit named Frodo, and eight companions on a quest to destroy one ring, and the evil overlord, Sauron. These films are based on the books by J.R.R. Tolkien; The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Another novel from the series, The Hobbit is soon to follow with a three-parted cinematic adaptation also directed by Peter Jackson, and starring Martin Freeman (Sherlock), and Ian McKellan; The Unexpected Journey (December 14, 2012), The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and There and Back Again (2014).

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Jane Eyre

            If you aren’t one for crime fiction, horror, fantasy, or science fiction, this is probably more of your type of classic literature. Based on the novel of the same name by Charlotte Brontë, this adaptation follows in the footsteps of the novel that is about a young governess, Jane, who encounters and falls for Mr. Rochester, a wealthy peculiar estate master. But she soon finds that Mr. Rochester has a haunting secret.

 

While this is the end of my list, there are many more adaptations that can be found, and an infinitely bigger number of books, television shows, and movies that are even partially based on classic novels. So when next time you are asked to read a piece of classic literature for a class or etc., you may not yawn but possibly look forward to the experience.

 

Sources:

            Pride, Prejudice and Zombies Cover- http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5899779-pride-and-prejudice-and-zombies

            Android Karenina Description and Cover- http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7551580-android-karenina

Sherlock BBC Poster – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1475582/

Dracula Poster – http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-7_NcjW9CHys/UFpH-UoGbYI/AAAAAAAADPM/RWHhkcPGwP4/s1600/001.jpeg

Lord of the Rings Posters –

            1 – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120737/

            2 – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0167260/

            3 – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0167261/

Jane Eyre Poster – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1229822/