In my mind, it was a fun and unique way to re-conceptualize classics and even encourage readers to explore classics that they may not have read. It moved the focus a bit from "Look at this brand new shiny story!" to "Look at the awesomeness that was our predecessors' writings!" Plus, I am always a sucker for seeing how people can reinterpret a story. Just as is done on a regular basis with film adaptations, these mash-ups were taking a piece of work and re-envisioning it.
But the newest subgenre to the "Mash-up" family has my feathers puffing out all in a million different directions (aka angrily). Now, writers are simply sexing-up the classic literature, adding erotic scenes to the sometimes sensual yet innocent classic stories so many of us adore. They aren't creating anything new, they aren't adding anything different and clever to the story; they are simply taking what was once innocent and making it foxy.
The Wall Street Journal tells us more:
As if being mashed up with zombies and transported to American high schools weren't enough, Ms. Austen and several of her fiction-writing peers are seeing their novels morphed into erotica.
As the steamy "Fifty Shades of Grey" and both of its sequels dominate best-seller lists, an enterprising electronic publishing house will publish on Monday a sadomasochistic version of Charlotte Brontë's "Jane Eyre," as well as sexed-up renderings of tales by Ms. Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne.
In "Pride and Prejudice" Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy start groping any time they can slip away from their stuffy friends.
Sir Arthur's "A Study in Scarlet," Mr. Verne's "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" (both with gay themes) and Ms. Austen's "Northanger Abbey" inaugurate the series, titled "Clandestine Classics."
Claire Siemaszkiewicz, chief executive of Total E-Bound, has been publishing erotic e-books for the last five years. She says the new series was planned before the "Shades of Grey" franchise exploded. But she's not denying it's likely to help.
Ms. Siemaszkiewicz hired five erotica writers from her stable of 250 authors to add racy sex scenes to the original texts, which are in the public domain and therefore not subject to copyright laws. The essential prose remains mostly unchanged, supplemented by 10,000 words or more which promise to take readers "behind the closed bedroom doors of our favourite, most-beloved British characters," the website states.
The books are priced based on how many new words have been added. "Jane Eyre" is $5.23; "Pride and Prejudice" is $4.36.
Attempts are made, with mixed success, to conform to the argot of the time. An excerpt from the updated "Pride and Prejudice" has Elizabeth referring to Darcy as "hot, spicy, and all man" as he "lifted her skirts quickly and removed her undergarments, then fumbled to free himself from the confines of his own clothing."
Desiree Holt, who penned the racy scenes to "Northanger Abbey" and shares a credit with Ms. Austen on the book's cover, says she worked hard to preserve Ms. Austen's sensibilities.
"I was careful to make sure that I kept to the same language and the same tone so that it didn't sound anachronistic or jarring to the rest of the book," says Ms. Holt, a retired music publicist who is 76 years old.
Austen scholar Devoney Looser, a University of Missouri professor, read website excerpts of Clandestine's hot new "Pride and Prejudice" and quickly found one improbability: Ms. Bennet and Mr. Darcy slip in and out of their clothes a bit too efficiently, which would have been virtually impossible given the extensive undergarments worn in the early 1800s.
The Clandestine line is Ms. Siemaszkiewicz's first foray into the literary canon. More typical are subgenres like "angels and demons", "paranormal" and "Rubenesque." About 95% of Total E-Bound's readership is female, and many readers buy a new e-book each week, she says. She publishes about six titles a week to keep up with demand.
"I like to think if the Brontë sisters were writing today, their books would be a lot racier," said Ms. Siemaszkiewicz. "But they were stifled by convention at the time."
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With the recent explosion of the erotic romance genre with the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey, writers and publishers seem to be grasping at straws here, in my opinion. Not only has the erotic romance genre been around for years and YEARS before this new "fad" hit (I will not rant about 50 Shades of Grey. I will not rant about 50 Shades of Grey.), but if a classic wasn't sex-ified by the author in the first place, it wasn't meant to be, it wasn't the heart of the story, at least not on paper. Classics encourage imagination in that regard. Yes, maybe these author's would write something racier if they were in modern times, but there is no way to know that. The fade-to-black mentality is even one still used in many novels today, and taking an author's choice in that respect and changing it because "being horny is in" and "modern" is disturbing to me on so many levels.