Last week, a conversation that started with Twilight and ended with Dracula (the novel) with my best friend's 14-year-old daughter has created a little "journey" for the two of us to embark upon. Her father is in full support and grateful - she is a brilliant student who has not made less than a perfect score in about 4 years, so he is always looking to supplement her education and find ways to make her think and challenge her. (He and his wife are both teachers.)

We have determined that once a month or every six weeks (hopefully not too ambitious for her given her school and extracurricular schedule), we will read a "classic" novel and then explore how the original story has been distorted over time through various media (movies, television, comics, radio, etc), and how today's "popular thought" about the book varies from the actual book.

I have been asked by her father to take charge of this and keep her on it.

We're starting with the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, mainly because she has started reading it for a class. However, it might be a good one - everyone knows the legend of the headless horseman, so we'll see how much we "know" lines up with what Washington Irving actually wrote.

However, beyond that, I am looking for suggestions of classics that might surprise our "current, popular view" of the original story. I have a few in mind, but welcome suggestions.

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Frankenstein. Completely different from the popular view, and will likely provide a challenge for someone that age.

Your choices are limited, I think, since few classic works are really in the public view at all.
Good suggestion!
Good choice! The original "Frankenstein" is a very powerful and moving story. Yeah, most people think "Frankenstein" was the monster! And don't have a clue what this story is really about. Goes far beyond the "horror" genre---as the horror is really everyone EXCEPT the monster, who just wants to belong. To be human.

It's the fault of the education system in part. When I was growing up in the 50s and early 60s in a small rural PA town with nevertheless a damned good school system and wonderful, well-educated, dedicated teachers, we DID read the classics. Even if we didn't always understand them.

Now, sadly, most people grow up ignorant of great literature. Including myth and fairy tales. They only get the white-washed re-tellings. For instance, most of the little girls who watch Walt Disney's Barbie version of "The Little Mermaid" and get the doll and the coloring book probably don't know Hans Christian Anderson's original, poetic and tragic version. (To give credit where it's due, I did love all the Disney movies when I was a kid, and even "The Little Mermaid" has one gorgeous scene, with the dimly-lit mer-people rising from the depths of the sea inot the light, that's worth watching in spite of all silly vaudeville stuff). But I also knew the "old" stories, so there was always more than ONE version.

I applaud any parent who makes an effort to bring the "classics," by whatever means, into his child's life. The effects, for an intelligent and sensitive young person, will hopefully be lasting, and profound.
Pride and Prejudice has been reworked, with varying degrees of success, on film and TV. There's even a Bollywood version, Bride and Prejudice, which might be an interesting cross-study. And of course the new novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!
True point. I may add that to the list.
KING LEAR and the Japanese film "Ran".
(Or if you want to stay within a Japanese theme, the 12th c. Japanese short story "Rashomon" and Akutagawa's 19th c. short story "Rashomon" (classic to classic)).
Good idea on both points.
It would be quite a precocious fourteen year old who could appreciate both King Lear and Ran. :) Not for the faint of heart. But when you think of the gratuitous and stupid violence most teenagers are exposed to now....

"Ran" was incredible, though. It takes a great filmmaker to make a decapitation into visual poetry. (I'm talking about the blood-sprayed wall). Just about floored me the first time I saw it. And the second.

BTW, I've been meaning to tell you--- "The Hell Screen" was fantastic. Those images just linger in my mind---the way you wove the theme of the screen into the story. And make me want more!
romeo and juliet has been reworked many times and is a classic theme. dr jekell and mr hyde is another one.

great project - good luck to the both of you.
hound of the baskervilles - due to how many times it has been put into other media and the fact that it is the only story in which homes wears the now iconic deerstalker
What a marvelous idea. What fun, too!
Hanzel and Grettle


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