Random House Imprint to Modernize Shakespeare's Plays
Who wants to read classic literature anyway? It's so old and musty and boring.
Well, I don't really feel that way. While I may not gravitate toward older works in general, I do appreciate them for their historical context. Lots of people, however, think the classics are a drag, and some of those people are high up in the publishing world. Take for instance the people at Random House, who are currently working on a massive project to modernize the works of William Shakespeare.
That's right—the one, the only Shakespeare. The Guardian's Allison Flood reports that Jeanette Winterson will soon produce a 'cover version' of the Bard's The Winter's Tale, which will be released alongside several other revamped works in 2016 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the playwright's death. More from Flood:
The novels will be released under Random House's Hogarth imprint, with the series to be called the Hogarth Shakespeare. The publisher said the new versions 'will be true to the spirit of the original dramas and their popular appeal, while giving authors an exciting opportunity to reinvent these seminal works of English literature'. [sic]
Anne Tyler, the American Pulitzer-winner, will tackle The Taming of the Shrew, but no other titles or authors have been announced. According to Clara Farmer, publishing director at Hogarth, plans to produce more novelizations are in the works. "We hope to do the entire canon. We are already in conversation with several other authors and are really eager to hear from other people who are interested … We need people to step up for the tragedies."
Of course, reworking Shakespeare's tales for modern audiences is nothing new: The Taming of the Shrew was already updated as the 1998 film 10 Things I Hate About You; West Side Story is pretty much Romeo and Juliet with a few tweaks to the plot; and, as Flood notes, "Terry Pratchett played with A Midsummer Night's Dream for his Discworld novel Lords and Ladies," not to mention countless other works.
I don't see much of a problem with this kind of thing, though I think the updated texts should open the door to reading the classics, rather than replace them altogether. What does everyone else think?
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