Here's some food for thought. I was trawling around on the Internet and stumbled upon an article in the Independent Mail discussing an upcoming series of re-worked classics. The "re-working" consists of the insertion (mind the pun) of erotic scenes into such beloved stories as Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre.
My first reaction to reading this was "Oh no they didn't."
I don't want to debase anyone's reading preferences, but seriously? I know re-workings are all the rage right now. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, etc can all be found on today's bookshelves. I've never read either, nor the other multitude of paranormal tales interlaced with classic stories.
Have we come so far as a society that we must re-write Pride and Prejudice to include erotic sex? Therein lies the issue: the point of these novels was the simmering sexual tension beneath everything. What's more, the company behind these re-workings as a true devotee of both Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, I would not even think to degrade their works by adding these scenes. It's just wrong.
The article cites the enormous success of Fifty Shades of Gray as reason for these re-workings. I haven't read Fifty nor do I intend to. I did however read an absolutely laugh out loud (which is rather funny since I've lost my voice...so laughing is actually a long high pitched wheeze) review on GoodReads. If you are easily offended by language, don't click over. I generally feel like reviewers should be respectful in their reviews, even if they are negative, but I'm making an exception this time. Please forgive.
Ok, so I digressed off point. Fifty of Shades of Gray was originally a fan-fic. And so to use that as a measure of whether or not to make classic novels erotic is just a bad judgment call. It's one thing to have some fan fiction fun for your own amusement and quite another to give it a world wide audience (i.e. a publishing contract, movie, etc). Sure, I used to write Jane Austen fan fiction when I was in high school, but I never would have had the audacity to change the names and publish it. Of course, I've never been a huge proponent of re-writes or add-ons. I can kind of see finishing unfinished classics, but the multitude of authors cashing in on making Jane Austen a super sleuth, continuing on where one book left off, or filling out other secondary characters from classic works has never really appealed to me. It's nearly impossible re-capture the same panache and style as the original author. And personally, some things are better left to one's imagination.
So how far is too far? Should we relegate re-workings of any author's work to the internet world of fan fiction or should a larger platform be made available?