What Are Your Candidates for Sexed-Up Classics?

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

You just knew it had to happen. On the heels of feminist, gay, zombie and vampire revisionist literature, it was just a matter of time before revisionists seized on literary classics to sex them up. The match applied to the tinder was the erotic bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey, which made it acceptable for refined ladies to be seen in public displaying a print copy of a novel that would have qualified as scandalous porn a scant decade or two ago.

Inspired by this phenomenon, a publisher will be issuing a series called “Clandestine Classics” purveying hotted-up versions of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and even some Sherlock Holmes stories. We’re not sure why these editions are to be termed clandestine, since it’s common to see Fifty Shades of Grey on buses and subways, but in case some readers are squeamish about being observed in public reading one of these erotic enhancements, the plan is to issue them as e-books only. Hidden behind the screen of your e-reader, no one will know if you’re reading a sex scene in the souped-up version of Northanger Abbey or an exchange of niceties in the parlor of a Henry James novel.

But that leads us to wonder how the latter might be played out – Lord Warburton tupping Isabel Archer on the couch of a salon at Gardencourt in Portrait of a Lady, for instance? How about a War and Peace threesome with Pierre Bezukhov, his wife Hélène and her brother Anatol?

The possibilities are boundless but we invite you to submit your most outrageous suggestions.

That said, for many lovers of classic literature the outrages have already been committed. What seems to have been forgotten is that sexual tension, unspoken desire, repressed passion are the very things that have made these works so cherished over the centuries. To open the bedroom door and invite us in to watch our beloved characters perform sex acts is an entertaining novelty but it’s best to remember that the most erotic organ of all is the imagination.

Details, and some explicit extracts, can be read here. Oh Mr Darcy! Pride and Prejudice among classic novels to receive erotic makeover

Richard Curtis

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