Weighing in on the Controversial ‘Clandestine Classics’ Issue…

You might have noticed the current media storm going down around the Clandestine Classics, Total-E-Bound’s new line of erotic fiction. Basically, it’s your old favourite classic novels – Jayne Eyre, Pride and Prejudice et al. – with the subtext made text. As in, ‘Reader, I married him’ becomes ‘we had a torrid sexual BDSM relationship beforehand, and here are the details’.

Oh, the degradation! *snort*

Seriously? I think it’s a great idea. The books are out of copyright, so there’s no infringement issue there, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it. If you do like it, the entirety of the original book is there, nothing’s been cut out, and you get extra smutty goodness.

So far, the list is:

Jane Eyre
Pride and Prejudice
Northanger Abbey
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet

Someone online made a comment about how the original authors would be spinning in their graves ‘if they were still alive today’. Let’s just enjoy that concept for a second – live people in their graves hundreds of years after their dates of birth. Now we’re done laughing at the commenter, yes, it’s a valid point. However, the whole point is that society was a lot less sexually liberated than it is now. If the authors had written these stories in the modern day, they might have been full of sex. And who knows? Maybe the authors wanted to write smutty scenes in their books, but didn’t feel they could do so because of the outcry. Maybe they wrote them for their own personal enjoyment but didn’t include them in their manuscripts because it would have been scandalous.

Even if the original authors would have been shocked and apalled, people didn’t react with the same amount of horror when Pride and Prejudice and Zombies came out, which is the same idea with an added zombie apocalypse instead of erotic scenes. Or when Disney turned Shakespeare’s Hamlet into The Lion King. Or even when Peter Serafinowicz made those Holmes and Watson gay sex sketches. The reason seems to be that it’s all about that naughty sex, and if sex is talked about at all, it should be in a comedic way or in a whisper.

I wonder how many of these critics will sneakily buy the Clandestine Classics, read them and love them, yet never be able to admit it because they’re so sexually repressed? Probably more than a few…

Plus, I suspect that when the hardcore erotica writer crowd gets hold of this story (I’m talking full-on erotica, not romance with erotic scenes – there’s very little romance and a lot of smut in hardcore written erotica!) we’ll start seeing titles like Breastfeeding Mr Rochester, Dracula’s Dirty Little Whore, Frankenstein Fucks the Twins and Mr Darcy Does Anal – and then the classics fans will really have something to bitch about! At least the Clandestine Classics have sex that reinforces the romance, whereas I think the 5,000 word shorts that are sure to start popping up on Amazon will be alllll about the sex.

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I was asked if I’d like to do a Clandestine Classic F/F version of any of the books, and I’m still giving it some thought. I’m not a classics fan, as a rule, and the books I would have liked to give lesbian relationships to have already been snapped up by M/F authors (Jane and Mrs Rochester #1 in Jane Eyre, and Mina and Lucy in Dracula.

I mean, think about it. In Jane Eyre, Mr Rochester’s first wife is locked up in the attic for being ‘mad’ – and during the period it was written, women who liked women were considered insane. There’s a gold mine there!

As for Lucy and Mina in Dracula, they were very close and it would only take a little bit of a squint to make them occasionally unfaithful to their partners with each other – and when Lucy becomes a vampire there’s sexy vampire lovin’ to be had. But sadly, I don’t think I could bear the mentions of how weak and inferior women are compared to men. That’s one of my biggest problems with the classics as a whole, I guess.

It’s likely I won’t contribute anything to the line, since my first idea – to convert The Turn of the Screw – petered out when I reread the book. It’s a great story, but the author’s written style is so convoluted. I couldn’t make myself twist and turn sentences that way, especially not when it came down to sex!

I’m just a contemporary girl, when it comes down to it. Maybe I could do a modern rewrite of a classic with smutty scenes, but I just don’t really tune in to historical time periods when I write. I’d love to write some ancient Egyptian erotic romance, but I don’t think I could pull it off!

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