Tag Archive: ideas about literature


Updating the classics with an erotic twist

Pride and Prejudice rewritten with erotic, raunchy scenes in style of Fifty Shades of Grey

Reading classic literature may just have become sexy… literally. This is the news that, for better or worse, the erotic published Total E-Bound have decided to inject some erotic interest into classic fiction such as Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and Jules Verne’s ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues

Under The Sea’. So, if you were left frustrated by the lack of a final chapter in which Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett’s sexual relations might have been described in great detail, then this new series of adorned Austen might just be for you.

The ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ effect?


Taking its cue, most probably, from the worldwide success of E.L. James’ ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, this remarkable idea has now become a reality after many years of critical speculation and discussion. The fantastic rise to fame of this modern trilogy (perhaps rather unjustly labelled ‘mummy porn’ by many commentators) has convinced the publishers that such titivated versions of well-known narratives might be a profitable venture.But such an effect raises many intriguing questions about the authority of literature itself. What right does any publisher have to take existing texts and refurbish them in any way they like? The person tasked with the job of rewriting these novels must be held accountable for each and every change. Ultimately, I fear, the hullabaloo that will undoubtedly surround this news for many months to come may well work in its favour, for controversy is a brilliant step towards exposure.

Issues that arise out of these releases

Martin Amis, amongst others, has expressed frustration at the – in his view, at least partially incomplete – endings of such novels as ‘Pride and Prejudice’, and he postulates the idea of ‘a 20-page sex scene featuring the two principals’ that might supplement the present conclusion.

Fifty Shades of Grey erotic novel written by E. L. James


But surely this notion presupposes one essential (in my view, deeply flawed) belief: that readers would prefer to have the sexual tension that pervades these novels grasped and drawn out explicitly on the page. But perhaps the very fact that there is no obvious consummation of Darcy and Bennett’s relationship is somehow better than the alternative. Literature depends as much on reticence as on revelation, and if everything is publicised then it may well detract from the overall sense of mystery. A reader can decide and conjecture for themselves what happens beyond the end – an end that is not really an end, in other words.Classic fiction gets sexy

This publication will be considered a travesty by some die-hard, avid readers of classic fiction, and will be welcomed by others who have always wondered what might have happened. In the eBook era, where public transport is crammed full of people reading works of literature on hand-held devices, there is no longer any shame in reading a raunchy novel. The blank face on the back of a Kindle, for example, serves the function that the brown bags used to in the days immediatel
y after the release of D. H. Lawrence’s ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’. Readers do not have to hide what they are reading, because the anonymity of the Kindle back cover does not give away what is being accessed at any given moment.

Some examples of the risqué additions

Let’s take a look at some of the changes that you can expect find:

In Austen’s ‘Northanger Abbey’, Catherine finds herself in ‘a whole new world of eroticism … where sex knows no boundaries’ when she encounters Henry and begins to engage with him. In Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’, retitled ‘Jane Eyre Laid Bare’, Jane is informed that ‘My penis is hard. …That is what kissing you does to me. My body is filled with desire.’ Little is left to the imagination!

Jane Austen's 'Northanger Abbey' given special treatment in new raunchy edition.But that’s just it: the imagination is hindered, and given everything explicitly. Literature does not have to be explicit (in its literal sense) and should not be rewritten just because someone is frustrated at an unexplored, or merely suggested, narrative tract.

The verdict on these erotic rewrites

So, read them if you want to, but don’t be disappointed if you find a clumsy break in the development of a paragraph where the second author has interrupted the original to inject some erotic interest. The prevalence of reader-response theories in critical readings of fiction nowadays has gone some way to making us more aware of an individual’s approach to a work of literature. This should alert us to the fact that many interpretations – some erotic, some not so – are not just possible, but resoundingly valid. If you think that Heathcliff and Catherine’s relationship should have been more sexual, or at least more clearly so in the book, then use your imagination to envisage it! There is so much more to that eventual bond than sex, and it should not be reduced to that level simply to appease some minds.

Image sources: 1, 23

Is This The End Of Books?

People often talk about digital texts offering their readers an objectively better reading experience in comparison to printed books. It is true that sometimes reading a printed book can be awkward whilst lying in bed or on the sofa, and in contrast eReaders also have backlights specifically designed to maximise the ease of the actvity, but many people just accept this contest as already won by digitalisation. My view is that the distinction is not so simple. The essence of a book – the printed words, the smell of the pages, the physical feeling of reading literally cover to cover – can be imitated but not matched by digital readers.

eBooks vs Paper Books

In the BBC documentary “Imagine… Books: The Final Chapter” which was aired recently, a point made frequently by many advocates of digital books was that the printed word will soon follow the pattern left by vinyl records. Yet this is simply not going to be the case. Vinyls have now entered a dirge in which a few select people swear by their better quality of sound and actually appreciate the grainy resonance, whilst the vast majority have moved on to CDs and now MP3s and MP4s – and maybe soon MP5s and 6s! Yet books will not become history because that’s what they already are. With a vinyl record, no matter how much personal and sentimental attachment you may swear by, you place it into the player and you listen. Beyond the moment of connecting the record to its player, the experience is a passive one.

eBooks vs paper books: the debate

With a book, however, the whole relation is much more active. A reader physically picks up the book, opens the page, and lets the words perform on them an effect which is seemingly indefinable and irreducibly complex. It is my belief that, whereas with music one can listen without imagining or visualizing something outside of the art form itself (when I listen to Elgar’s Cello Concerto I do not necessarily have to create an identifiable world in my mind), it is impossible to do this when reading words. It is impossible to read the following extract from Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea without mentally engaging with what you are reading.

“He was a very big Mako shark, built to swim as fast as the fastest fish in the sea and everything about him was beautiful except his jaws. His back was as blue as a sword fish’s and his belly was silver and his hide was smooth and handsome. He was built as a swordfish except for his huge jaws which were tight shut now as he swam fast, just under the surface with his high dorsal fin knifing through the water without wavering.” (100)

And every single person reading this extract will have a slightly different image in their head of the Mako shark, even though they are reading the exact same words. Of course, everyone listening to music may similarly have a different reaction to the sound they hear, but the relationship between music and its listener does not have the same engagement and blend as text and its reader. All this is not to suggest that music is somehow inferior to literature – I don’t mean to say that at all. What I am saying is that whereas music is easily switched between different audio formats, this change is nowhere near as easy or as satisfactory with the written word.

My personal experience of eBooks vs paper books

I am a student at university studying English (and therefore I need to have access to a lot of books!). Many of them are available online because they are either out of print or printed by online journals and directories that charge a fee (paid by the institution) to use what they publish. Yet in the vast majority of cases I will physically go to the library, take out the book, and read it there and then, even though in theory it would be much simpler just to log on in my room and read it online. There is something about physically getting up to go a library that is both motivating and stimulating for me, and the reading experience is much superior. But maybe this is a naive point of view from an avid reader whose love affair with books should probably come to an end. Perhaps, deep down inside of me, I feel reluctant to read Paradise Lost or Don Quixote online through an HTML version because I believe that they somehow deserve to be read as a physical book. But doesn’t that mean I am falling into a trap – a trap that screams of ignorance and a stubborn refusal to change my ways? Am I simply assuming (unfoundedly, perhaps) that an eReader is by some means less honourable than the book?

With the dramatic rise to prominence of the Kindle, and with software such as iBooks and Stanza now close at hand in our digital age, are we to admit that we are turning over the page to the final chapter for books? Here are some very interesting ideas to consider regarding this topical debate.

Interesting ideas about the Kindle

I have tried to use a Kindle in the past and have found it immensely frustrating not to be able to write on what I am reading when I come to something particularly important or interesting. I like to write in my books and although it is possible with an eReader to highlight an area of text and save it to your profile, in my view this will never beat pencil on paper. Moreover, when I am reading a book, be it a novel, play or poem, I am constantly aware of how far through the work I am at a particular moment. This sense of progression is emulated to a certain extent with digital books, in that there is a percentage in the top right hand corner of the screen, but this once again does not live up to scratch. To say that I am 19% through a book does not have the sense of personal interaction with a text as a general feel of the printed pages and it makes it seem like a goal to finish – to get to 100%. I do not want to conquer the book; I want to engage with it.

eBooks vs the printed word

The Internet is full of uploads and downloads with these percentages, and the only thing on our mind when we see these numbers is to get it over and done with so that we can concentrate on the rest. I don’t need to know that I am 19% of the way through; just a rough and non-numerical indication of how far through the text I am. When reading a novel (say you’re on page 156, for instance), you know that before you (I envisage a picture of the words being contained further left than the left-hand page you are reading, always accessible), you can find the words you have just read. They are always there and you can flick back to them whenever you wish to clarify something or jog your memory. But with an eReader there is no sense of this continuous trail coming in from the left (outside of the page) and arriving at the sentence you are on. When I turn a page on an eReader I do not feel as though I am progressing and following the story. Every word is captured within this Kindle and I get the impression that each page is in effect a superposition of one onto the other, rather than an actual movement (although of course the book is not actually in motion) from left to right.

Do we read ‘better’ with eBook readers?

Whilst I appreciate that eReaders allow us to take a library of books with us on the go at once, I am critical of whether this is useful or helpful. Even on holiday, I only need to take a maximum of about 3 or 4 books with me at one time, which whilst taking up more space than one sole Kindle is not a great burden to bear. I would bet that the vast majority of Kindle readers right now on the go will read no more than one book between the time they leave their home and the time they return to it. Once again, we arrive at the issue of reading too quickly or too superficially. When we have a whole library of books in our hand, we want to get through as many as possible in the shortest space of time.

Interesting ideas about eReaders

If I go out with one book and I finish it whilst out, I will reread certain passages or I will reflect on what I have read before launching into another fictional world. In my opinion, many eReader users finish a book and then move on to the next one without much time for pensive contemplation or rigorous analysis. Of course, the experience of reading can be purely hedonistic, and I am not condemning those who read without being critical of the text before them, but it strikes me that the wealth of textual material available to devour on a Kindle leads readers to neglect their capacity for profound examination of a single one.

Observations on life: digital books vs printed books

On the other hand, we must accept that there are some major advantages of the Kindle over a physical book. Although it is not as easy as it could be right at the moment, given time it will become incredibly straightforward to look up a glossary or an index which will be fantastic for reference books and textbooks. Yet I simply cannot envisage a time, even in decades and decades, when there will be no books. Digital books have their uses, but I cannot imagine a new publication not being printed as a physical book. As Alan Bennett notes in The Uncommon Reader, writing from the mindset of the Queen who has stumbled into a library and discovered the joys of reading: “Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers were equal, herself included.” But digital books really do care. Books on Kindles are packed with ratings, percentages, figures, comments, reviews. In contrast, whilst might get a price tag on the back of a novel, but we soon scratch that off and we are on our way.

Conclusions to the debate

Many people may well prefer eReaders, but there will always be a large number who will stick to physical books. It is without a doubt a challenge to their authority, but this is not the death of books. It’s not even their final chapter. Books will prevail and will not be overcome. They may not actually care ‘who (is) reading them or whether one read(s) them or not”, but they will continue to be read, over and over again, by readers who, despite the advancements of the digital age, simply prefer the organic experience of meeting a printed book with whose experiences s/he can suffer, communicate, and interact.

This poll is not an ad – I created it! Please fill it out and give your view!

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