Exploring the World of Parallel Literature

Via The Hindu

Say what you will about the literary classics of yore. They might be too slow-paced and Victorian for new age Twilight-wielding readers, but some characters just stick: from the smouldering Heathcliffe to the high-spirited Elizabeth Bennett. The day Fitzwilli
am Darcy is replaced by the marble-lipped Edward Cullen will be a sad day for literature.
But while you might have read your collection of Jane Austens to tatters, your favourite characters might pop up in the most unexpected places.
Welcome to the world of parallel literature, or books that are derived from the framework of books by other authors. “It’s like adult fan fiction,” says Ashwitha Jayakumar, who recently finished her masters in literature. “In the same way that football fans and news junkies ha
ve their inside jokes, parallel literature seems to be the equivalent for those of us obsessed with parallel fiction universes.” She cites the Canongate Myth series, bringing together contemporary authors to rewrite ancient stories, like Margaret Atwood’s retelling of “The Odyssey” from Penelope’s point of view in her novella “The Penelopiad”.
Attribute it to the postmodernist effect of playing with existing notions to create something new or simply the need to know more about characters in best-loved books, but there is an industry of authors contributing to this genre. “Pride & Prejudice” itself has inspired over 50 spin-offs, from “Mr. Darcy’s Diary” by Amanda Grange to “The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett” by Colleen McCullough, which unravels the hapless younger sister’s story after the conclusion of the original novel. Die-hard fans might object to Darcy’s new villain status, but it makes for a good read.
So reading away the blues doesn’t necessarily require revisiting the classics. Sometimes you can pick up on your favourite characters just where you — and they — have left off.
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