Monday Musing About Re-Tellings

August 26, 2013 Monday Musings 12

Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…

• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

From Cinder to Thorn to the many, many, many Austen spin-offs, re-tellings and other derivative works seem to be incredibly popular lately. Personally, I adore them. Fairy tale re-tellings, classics re-tellings, re-imaginings of historical events – I love them all! And it seems many other people feel the same way, based on events like this fairy tale re-telling challenge and the Classics Re-Told event starting next week. This week I’m musing about why that’s the case…

There are many reasons people love re-tellings. You get to see more of characters you love and you know that some plot elements you like will probably make an appearance. Particularly in the case of classics, re-tellings can be the next best thing to reading more books by an author you love. It’s also a lot of fun to see how creative authors can be. I’m always impressed when an author surprises me with a story I think I already know! Sequels can answer the question “what happened next?” while re-tellings can describe crazy hypotheticals, from Sense and Sensibility retellings happening in our time to Sense and Sensibility with sea monsters.

Personally, I’ve noticed that I like re-tellings for some of the same reasons I like to read a book and then watch the movie version. It also feels similar to my enjoyment of pairing fiction with relevant non-fiction. It took some thinking for me to work this out, but I think one of the commonalities is that they allow you to engage more deeply with a story. They let you see characters or topics over and over in different guises, so you get to know them better. You can stretch out the enjoyment of a good book by reading related works. Plus you get to feel like you’re in the know when you’re reading a re-telling or a book referencing a historical figure, because you have a little extra knowledge the author didn’t explicitly give you. I’m sure there are lots of other reasons too, so I’d love to hear what you like about re-tellings, “sequels”, etc.

What do you like or dislike about re-tellings? Are there any really good ones you’d recommend?

12 Responses to “Monday Musing About Re-Tellings”

  1. Asti (A Bookish Heart)

    I love retellings because I like to see how something old becomes new again! I like to see how the author changes it up and finding the glimpses of the original story hidden in the new one. They’re just fun to compare and contrast! I actually haven’t read that many (aside from Cinder and Scarlet of course) but hope to read more soon. Great discussion topic!

    • DoingDewey

      I figured not everyone could 🙂 Like dystopias, love triangles, and vampires, not everyone is going to love a trend. Personally, I’ve loved all the dystopian books I’ve read but have been annoyed at love triangles and mostly unimpressed by recent vampire novels.

  2. Kwizgiver

    I am not sure I have read any retellings, aside from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.

  3. toni d.

    It depends on the way the author writes the retelling I guess. I can’t recall any retellings right now that I didn’t like. I think it’s a brave thing to do, especially if some of the characters are practically sacred, such as Jane Austen’s ones.

    Here’s my musing for the week: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

  4. Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader

    I always feel kinda jerky about this (because I know so many people like re-tellings, etc) but I do NOT want there to be sequels to classics or re-tellings of classics. Leave them alone darn it, lol. When I first saw a copy of Pride * Prejudice & Zombies I almost fainted dead away. Just…NO.

    • DoingDewey

      At one point, I don’t think I’d have understood being bothered by sequels and re-tellings, but after reading a re-telling of Sense and Sensibility, I think I get where you’re coming from. I opened this book expecting some of the understated humor and beautiful writing I liked about Austen and so the actual writing left me a bit disappointed. I ended up getting over it and enjoying the book, but I can definitely see being almost offended by people not doing justice to your favorite works 🙂

  5. Alice in Readerland

    I love retellings too, I think it’s really fun seeing all of the characters you know and love re-imagined, especially in a different setting/genre/time period. As far as fairy tale retellings go, I enjoyed The Lunar Chronicles too and A Long, Long Sleep (a kind of Sci-Fi Sleeping Beauty). It’s a YouTube series, but I also enjoyed The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and I’m participating in The Classics Retold challenge and covering Sherlock Holmes. 🙂 Great post!

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

    • DoingDewey

      Ooh, A Long, Long Sleep sounds fun 🙂 And I think I’m due for a re-read of Pride and Prejudice so I might check out The LIzzie Bennet Diaries after that. I’m looking forward to your posts for the Sherlock Holmes challenge. I’m sure there are some great re-retellings out there

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