Souping Up the Classics

Image result for images of books thrown out as trash

Here at Effing University (home of Joe Collidge!), we at the English Dept. have found a solution to the problem of students reading literature that contains objectionable elements of White Privilege, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, Climate Change Denial, cultural appropriation, and funambulism. Most of this problematic content is found in what unenlightened persons call “the classics”–that is, old stuff, most of it written by white males. As hard as we try to restrict students’ reading to material published after 2008, there’s always someone sneaking off to read the classics.

And so, with the help of a $455 million grant from the Foundation for Pure Evil, we are going to get to work rewriting the classics to make them conform to our current understanding of–well, I don’t want to say “truth,” because our position is that there is no such thing; but you get what I mean.

Here, by way of example, is one of the classics that we have rewritten: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Julia Verne. Yes, we changed “Jules” to “Julia” to reflect feminism’s awesome contribution to world literature.

In our rewrite, “Captain Nemo” is an African-American gay woman who has invented and built the super-submarine, the Nautilus, to fight Climate Change. That means she must also fight Climate Change Denial, which she does by sinking ships that have white males on them. All members of her crew are LBGTQ and persons of color. The involuntary guests of the Nautilus–Prof. Arronax, Conseil, and Ned Land–have been rewritten as gay women of color who are in their respective countries without documentation.

We have begun work on rewriting A Tale of Two Cities by Charlene Motumbu, with London and Paris–ugh! horrible cities, crammed full of men!–replaced by Baghdad and Aleppo.

Says our department chair, Dr. Fimbo Pantywaist, “We will not allow any of our students to pick up counterrevolutionary ideas through the medium of literature, classical or otherwise. There is no so-called ‘classic’ that cannot be improved by replacing its reactionary elements with themes of gender fluidity and man-made climate change. From now on, all books are to teach those lessons. All the time!”

9 comments on “Souping Up the Classics

  1. If these re-written classics become the ‘classics’ of tomorrow, nobody will be left to even know the difference. And no great writers will be writing anything worth reading.

    1. It was hard NOT to miss the satire, but the element of predictive truth was overwhelmingly realistic.

  2. Predictive my eye! It’s happening right now. Netflix is currently distributing a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation property named Anne, With An E” based on Anne of Green Gables.

    There are parts that seem true to the 1908 book, but there are also examples of dialogue sprinkled with current day, PC terminology. They manage a shout out to Climbit Change and Anne’s role model is a lesbian. It’s called a “reimagining” of the original, but corruption seems a valid term to me.

    While Anne, in the book, is a bit of a handful, she’s a good child. In this series, the darker aspects of her personality are exaggerated and the story line is altered to not only heighten drama, but to inflate it out of all proportion.

    I will have to say that the production values are excellent and the acting first class. Amybeth McNulty brings the character to life in a manner that left me amazed several times throughout the series. This girl is a brilliant actress and makes it look effortless.

    It’s “tragical”, to paraphrase the character of Anne, that they couldn’t have left the story as it was written and not practice the revisionism which so distracts from the original story.

    1. Since that email, I have read a bit of the original work and find it a delightful classic. Anne, in the book, is a bit of Tom Sawyer and a bit of Huck Finn, all wrapped up in a delightful little girl with a huge imagination and an impressive mastery of English. She is prone to speaking her mind and is not particularly skilled at tact, but she means well and even her most harsh critics cannot sustain their wrath in the face of her competence and charm. She is, simply put, completely honest and that makes her character very endearing.

      Now, can anyone tell me why such a brilliantly written character and such a lovely story has to be “improved upon” (another Anne paraphrase) when the character and story are without weakness?

      As an inveterate reader, I find that great fiction sketches out its characters in such a way that you form an immediate and indelible mental image of them which is reinforced throughout the work. I know just what Jack, Elayne and Martis look like. I know Anne of Green Gables down to the last freckle on her face. What sort of mentality would seek to put their works in her mouth?

    1. Predication: Caught–again!–with the unionized teachers’ hands in the cookie jar, the school will re-issue the yearbooks without the political censorship. But you can’t say they didn’t try. They always try.

  3. As the article states, this probably is an actual first amendment issue. It would be interesting to see how justice plays out in this matter.

Leave a Reply