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Updating Jane Austen: When Is It No Longer Worth It?

Take a specific case, such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: one of the most popular of the classic novels, it has been subject to various reinterpretations which of course include the occasional modernization. But updating such a novel comes with a hefty set of challenges, not the least being this: is there anything Lydia could do in our time which would ruin her sisters prospects as completely? That is, the social norms and stigmas from Austen’s time to ours are so different, is it possible to construct a modern analog for this novel? Is it worth it?

  • I think this topic could also be written contrary to your title, as one could make the argument that there is always a way to update the classics, maybe even essential to update the classics in order to make them accessible. I LOVE the way the new BBC Sherlock Holmes updates Sir Arthur Canon Doyle's stories. I think the change from pipe to nicotine patches and the updates to Dr Watson being a soldier in Afghanistan in the 21st century instead of in the 19th century are some examples of great updates that lead audiences to want to revisit the classics while still enjoying the new interpretations. – Kevin 9 months ago
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  • The Lizzie Bennett Diaries (youtube series) did a good job of updating the story, including Lydia's story line. I think as long as people feel like women should be shamed for their sexuality, people will use it against them. – chrischan 7 months ago
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  • This is a very interesting topic. If I was to write it, though, more time would be spent probably on the "why things shouldn't be 'modernized'" in the first place. I've seen Much Ado about Nothing set in 1940s Argentina performed in the West End of London- even David Tennant and Katherine Tate couldn't save that one. Even locally here, we've had Cabaret set in a Kabuki Theatre because Nazi Germany is too offensive, and not to forget the all-white version of The Wiz. I believe great art, whether movie, TV, theatre, or what have you, should be left alone. There's a reason it's known as great art, or classics. Sorry for the rant, but as you can see this is something near and dear to my heart. Cheers! – NoDakJack 7 months ago
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