Should you adapt classic literature?

Teen movies have been doing this to Shakespeare for years.  ‘Ten things I hate about you’, ‘Get over it’, ‘She’s the man’, not to mention ‘Westside Story’.  But should modern literature adapt classic literature.  My first novel, ‘Too Much Trouble’, borrows heavily from ‘Oliver Twist’ now I’m considering taking the premise of ‘The Prince and The Pauper’ and placing that in the 21st century.

Prince William

Jaden Smith

You can probably guess my view on adaptations.  I think that they are perfectly valid.  My hope is that children will read my work and then go on to tackle the classic work that I have referenced.

But a question has occured to me as I’ve re-read Mark Twain’s classic children’s book.  Who would be considered a modern day Prince?

We have our Princes, William and Harry.  But do they have the same celebrity status that Edward Tudor had in his day when the whole nation celebrated his birth.

What about ‘real’ celebrity children?  Jaden Smith, son of Will, and actor in his own right?  Or Brooklyn Beckham, David and Victoria’s first born?  Or Shiloh Jolie-Pitt (can you guess the parents?)?

Are these the Royalty of today?  Maybe.

I guess that’s the trick to a great adaptations, taking what it meant in that time and that town, translating it across the great divide of years and the even greater divide of culture and figuring out what it means in our time and town.

What is sad is that the gap between today’s Princes and today’s Paupers needs no translating.  It is still very real and very wide.


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