We all know the cliché “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, but what of parody? Take-offs of popular classic works and alternate histories are increasing in volume and popularity. Consider the summer blockbuster movie Abraham Lincoln-Vampire Hunter. The juxtaposition of one of America’s greatest presidents with the current fascination with the paranormal became a best seller for author Seth Grahame-Smith, who had previously parodied Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Grahame-Smith’s most recent publication Unholy Night (2012) retells the story of the Magi with his characteristic wit and fantastical imagination.
While Grahame-Smith’s books set familiar stories in bizarre settings, many literary adaptations seek to be continuations of beloved tales. One of the most frequently adapted authors is Jane Austen. A cursory look on the internet finds no fewer than 67 authors who have written novels based on her classic works. The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler and Austenland by Shannon Hale are two that have proved to be exceedingly popular with book groups. The movie Clueless based on Austen’s classic Emma, while Sense and Sensibility is revisited with The Dashwood Sisters Tell All by Beth Pattillo.
In the teen department, books inspired by classics have always been popular. This summer, try pairing Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart with Kafka’s The Metamorphosis or read the original Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll before beginning The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor. For more inspiration, grab a copy of our booklist “New, Old, and Retold”. Happy summer reading!