Beginner’s Guide to Classical Literature

1.The Good Place

Have you ever thought that The Divine Comedy is great with all these hot sinful people but it needs a bit more comedy and was more inclusive in its afterlife? Then this is the show for you!, The Good Place, created by Micheal Shur, is  a philosophical afterlife comedy tackling classic dilemmas such as the trolley problem with modern issues of morality like ”Is almond milk a deadly sin?” The premise of the show is Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) trying be a better person in order to stay in heaven, with her ”soulmate” Chidi Anagonye’s (William Jackson Harper) help. The heart-warming personal growth of both Eleanor and Chidi is hilarious and enviable.

Chidi teaching Eleanor about ethics

2.The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

There are so many retellings of Austen’s work with various changes ranging from Mr. Darcy being a businessman to a zombie epidemic. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, produced by Hank Green and written by Bernie Su, is a web series adaptation with a modern setting. The titular character Lizzie Bennet (Ashley Clements) is a postgrad student who lives with her parents and two sisters. Just like in Pride and Prejudice, her world turns upside down when a rich med student and his friend moves across the street. The Emmy winning web series, giving up on bonnets and curtseys, contains the wit, the romance and the class struggle of the original. It also focuses much more on the Bennet sisters and their familial bond rather than the romantic aspect of the original. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries also started the literature-inspired web series trend on YouTube.

Charlotte Lu, Lizzie, Lydia and Jane Bennet

3.Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812

The musical West Side Story is known to be a contemporary retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but did you know that there is also a musical of War and Peace? Probably not, because to the anguish of many musical fans, it was closed in 2017 due to some complications. In this both hilarious and hauntingly beautiful musical, Natasha, Pierre and The Comet of 1812, you will laugh, roll your eyes and cry. And if you are a fan of the original, do not worry because the bleak and grey sadness of the Russian literature bleeds so very well into the musical. Though it’s not on theatres anymore, there are Original Broadway Cast recordings of the musical all around the internet.

Josh Groban as Pierre and Denée Benton as Natasha

4.Ten Things I Hate About You

There is no mention of adaptations and retellings without the bard himself, of course. The movie, Ten Things I Hate About You,is adapted from the play Taming of the Shrew .Unlike all the #feminism Shakespeare wrote in his other comedies, this one is, as the title suggests, about taming a shrew. The movie not only changes the setting to a 90s high school,  but also the perspective of the comedy shifts from Katharine’s pain and suffering to the general teen comedy and with a dash of romance. Additionally the adaptation shows both Kat and Patrick’s failings equally, while they grow and come to understand each other and the world around them.

Heath Ledger as Patrick Verona and Julia Stiles as Kat Stratford

5.The Song of Achilles

Is the tension or tragic romance in the Iliad not enough for you? Would you like to cry your eyes out to a story you already know? Madeline Miller centres The Song of Achilles around the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles. The dedication to the original story and the poetic and breath-taking language makes the Iliad available and relatable to a younger audience. The adaptation puts the reader in Patroclus’ mind and makes them feel the same love and admiration so profoundly with the exquisite narration.

One thought on “Beginner’s Guide to Classical Literature

  1. I actually was raised on a classic- “A Christmas Carol”- It was the George C. Scott movie and every Christmas Break, my family would watch the movie. I think that was part of where my love for classics began. My love I developed for Les Mis much later on would play a part in my love for classics as well.

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