The Classics Club moderators are really pushing us out of our comfort zone this month and I’m enjoying it, even if I can’t think of a great answer outside of the excellent example they provide! I might do another “avoid answering” by answering differently, as it’s where I’ve gone in my head.
Select two classics from your list (by different authors) that you have finished reading. Now switch the authors, and contemplate how each might have written the other’s book. For example, what if Charlotte Brontë had written David Copperfield, and Charles Dickens had written Jane Eyre? How might the style, focus and impact change in a work of literature by a different author’s pen? What about William Shakespeare writing Pride & Prejudice, and Jane Austen writing The Taming of the Shrew? Etc. If you discuss the story, please of course remember to warn folks plot details are forthcoming.
I think what makes “The Classics” classic is their timelessness and their dealing with sometimes grandiose and sometimes minuscule ideas and themes. I’ve written about this before, but think about Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. They may not be the exact same story, but they’re pretty damn close in that
- a family has lost most if not all of their money (the Bennetts and the Earnshaws) and their future depends on strategic marriages;
- an epic love story exists: Elizabeth and Darcy, Catherine and Heathcliff; and
- female authors in a time period when female writers were frowned upon.
So could this be their way of telling the same story? A love that was so predestined to exist that countless authors have told their version of it. I don’t know.
I think if the authors were switched, Austen’s descriptions of the moors would’ve been much more beautiful in a traditional sense and her descriptions of Heathcliff would’ve focused less on his darkness of being (physical and spiritual) and more on his social interactions. Brontë, I believe would’ve focused more on the relative poverty of the Bennetts and their struggles within their village rather than Mrs. Bennett’s struggle to find her daughter’s husbands.
I chose the easy road, switching two authors with similar, but very different, tales of romance. I do think it would be fascinating as both authors started very young and wrote many things, not all of which survive.