On Tuesday, the Independent posted an article titled “Oh Mr Darcy! Pride and Prejudice among classic novels to receive erotic makeover“, in which Claire Siemaszkiewicz, founder of Total-E-Bound Publishing, announced the release of classic novels with an erotic twist. In fact, it was revealed how novels like “Pride and Prejudice” and “Jane Eyre” would receive ‘extra scenes‘ with erotic content. I think the aim is to recreate the feeling we nowadays have when we watch movies or read books knowing the explicit parts have been cut. The thing is, messing with the past is not quite the same.
First, it was not a case of censorship, and classic novels were simply written that way for ethics and morals we could never compare to those we have today. However, it is the curiosity to see what comes out of this that will ultimately drag readers.
In the article, it is explained how the original writing would be kept as is, and new scenes would be added. Unfortunately, they’re bound to mess with the whole structure, like an earthquake causing a crack in a historical lovely looking building that ends up collapsing. The reason for this, is that morality and principle are pillars upon which some of these novels are built.
How? “Wuthering Heights” would see Catherine Earnshaw engage in bondage sessions with Heathcliff and Sherlock Holmes has sex with Dr Watson. I do respect the theoretical concept of wondering, as Siemaszkiewicz explains how she imagines what the Bronte sisters would have written today and whether there would be less sexual tension and more sex scenes.
It’s the way it is explored that changes everything: Jane Eyre or Mr Darcy are characters that generations of readers are now familiar with. Reading about them having sex is not only the intrusion of another author’s voice in a story they have not built, but also something morbid and comparable to finding out the sexual habits of a family member. Because this is what these characters represent for most people. We know the reader would be aware of the experiment, they would completely be capable of judging, but it is highly probable they might feel disturbed by such accounts involving those characters.
What needs to be highlighted here is how no respect is shown for the reader, and I’m not referring to the sex scenes. Respect goes missing when one feels the need to make eroticism explicit. Is the reader not smart enough to catch the sexual tension in the novels as they have been originally written? Was it not the author’s intention to have that veil up for the purpose of arousing the reader’s mind? Was it not the pleasure of it? Wouldn’t it be like a magician performing tricks and promising to explain them afterwards? Value is lost.
Of course, the idea comes from the instant and surprising success of E.L. James’s “Fifty Shades” trilogy. I wonder, was it not going to be a healthier and less controversial project to have erotic novels set in the XVIII or XIX century? Or to publish reworked versions altogether? That would have been a more constructive approach. Oh, but then you would not have the controversy effect. Sex, mixed with controversy, is a sure source of success.