Find the classics boring? Or love them but wanting to find new ways to experience your favourite stories? See my list of Alternative Ways to Appreciate the Classics that don’t involve pages and pages of words.

Alternative Ways to Appreciate the Classics

Hey everyone!

I started out with the idea that this post would be a discussion piece on whether experiencing the ‘classics’ (classic literature, that is) in alternative methods is a good thing, but after thinking it over I realized the obvious answer was ‘well, yeah obviously’ – because experiencing a version of something awesome is better than never having experienced it at all, right?

So instead, I’ve decided it’s going to be a list of some ways I’ve enjoyed experiencing the classics and would recommend to others. My list will work in two directions, depending on what sort of person you are.

We have Person A – an ardent classics reader, loving everything from Austen to Zola. They drool over the Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Collection (because who doesn’t?) and lament over the publication of Go Set A Watchman (don’t even get me started). But, they’re also afraid of tampering. A Purist, one might say. The quotes are so pretty, why change them? They might ask.

And …

Person B – they find classics dull. Why should they read them anyway? They’re outdated, usually sexist – why bother? Contemporary books are so much more relatable. They associate classics with school. They probably used Cliffsnotes or Shmoop for English Lit as a substitute for reading the book, too.

These are pretty extreme ends of the spectrum, but there is nothing wrong with either point of view. I probably fall somewhere in the middle and a lot of you probably do too, but identify which end of the spectrum you lean towards – got it?

Okay, well Person A will want to approach this list from the beginning, forwards. Kind of like putting a goldfish in a tank, you’ll need to ‘warm up’, you know, so you don’t have a heart attack or something.

Person B will want to go in the opposite direction, from the end backward. This will start you off with the mediums that use, shall we say, a little more artistic license with the story. A bit more adaption and less portrayal.

If you’re pretty close to the centre – have at it, any order you like. Go wild.

Well then, A People, let’s get started and B People, we’ll see you on the other side (or in the middle, whichever).

Screenshot_20180910-104401 Screenshot_20180910-104401

So – what do you think? Off to go experience some classics? I hope so. I’ll list the various links and sources below for you to peruse at your leisure.

Until next time!


Librivox Free Audiobooks

Classic Graphic Novels To Try

Murder on the Orient ExpressEmma Audible DramaRomeo and Jude Audible OriginalBronte Collection

Les Miserables Radio DramaNorthanger Abbey Audible OriginalTreasure Island Audible OriginalPygmalion

Best Page to Stage Adapted Novels

manga classics the count of monte cristo by crystal s chan / alexandre dumas book review  manga classics emma by stacey king book review  Chan, C. S - Manga Classics Romeo and Juliet  King, S - Manga Classics Pride and Prejudice

Pretty obvious, no? Though I imagine a lot of classics readers already use audiobooks I would definitely recommend doing it to those who don’t. Last year I listened to The Count of Monte Cristo on audiobook narrated by David Clarke through Librivox and it was brilliant. The count of Monte Cristo is a monster of a book at 1,200+ pages so an audiobook made it so much less overwhelming. That, and Clarke’s French & Italian accents were most entertaining.
Audiobooks also don’t have to cost a fortune either when it comes to classics, since there are many, many free classic audiobook apps available on every operating system – so maybe go give one a try?
BBC Adaptions
I specify BBC since they are about one of the only onscreen adaptors that actually stays loyal to the text. All of their Austen adaption of nigh on word for word and I’ve heard good things about all their others. The acting is also fantastic featuring the talents of Colin Firth (Pride and Prejudice); Dominic Cooper (Sense & Sensibility); Dan Stevens (Sense & Sensibility); Benedict Cumberbatch (Parade’s End); Michael Gambon (Emma); Douglas Booth (Great Expectations); Lily James (War and Peace) and Hugh Dancy (Daniel Deronda).
Mostly available online and via Netflix, re-runs and I imagine the DVDs are pretty cheap too nowadays.
Graphic Novels
Often adapted verbatim from the original text, every graphic novel adaption of a classic novel can give a unique perspective on the story through the way the artistic depicts the characters.
There are of course instances where they deviate due to length or some other reason but I find most of them are fairly accurate, disregarding those that are ‘simplified’ down language wise to make them more accessible.
Audio Dramas
How are these different from Audiobooks you might ask? Well … they’re a bit more dramatic. And shorter. Most of that description cut out and straight to the story, often with a modern take or twist. Their narrators are also often quite big names.
These ones however, are pretty much all exclusive Audible Original Dramas and therefore would require an Audible subscription but, £7.99 a month is far cheaper than their RRP, some of them are available just for members no use of credits required and if you can catch them on the Audible daily deals (like I did) they cost as little as £1.99 – £2.99.
This will more readily apply to Shakespeare and for good reason since the Royal Shakespeare Company put on some fantastic modernised adaptions of the Bard’s classics, but there are numerous stage adaptions of other classics too including: To Kill A Mockingbird; Lord of the Flies; Crime and Punishment; Frankenstein; Oliver Twist; Les Miserables and Dracula.
Anyone who’s been to the theatre will probably tell you it isn’t always the cheapest, but it is a spectacular way to experience a classic in a fresh, and often musical, way.
Manga Classics
But I thought we already did Graphic Novels?! We did, this is different – much, much different.
Manga has a far more unique style of writing as well as art. Hyperbolic expressions and emotions reign in this form of storytelling and as a result produce almost caricature like versions of characters from classic literature. Oddly enough the result can be almost satirical in analysis of the translation of these characters based purely on how similar they are to their original forms.
There is a series specifically called Manga Classics that does such adaptions and having read a fair few myself I highly recommend them. Though Emma was more vaguely translated and The Count of Monte Cristo was abridged, Pride and Prejudice is very similar to the original and Romeo & Juliet appears to be adapted in full with the original dialogue intact.
Movies You Didn’t Even Realise Were Based On That
Some of these surprised me immensely, but then made sense once I knew. It just goes to show that there really are no original stories now. They are all based off the same ancient template with threads of new personality interwoven. I wouldn’t recommend any of these for scholarly purposes, but they are all generally very enjoyable.
Alternative Ways to Appreciate the Classics (1)


22 thoughts on “Alternative Ways to Appreciate the Classics

  1. I like the classics to be left alone but I also enjoy re-tellings told to give a more current perspective of the classics. They don’t pretend to be the classics. I enjoy nicely read audiobook versions of the classics.

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  2. I had to take a Shakespeare class in college, and I felt like the only Person B in a room full of Person As. When reading aloud to the class, one Person A was SO Person A, he read in an English accent. (Though that may be normal for you. Just imagine someone in one of your classes being so pretentious they choose to read in an American accent.)

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    • That does sound mighty pretentious – I hate being read to in class. I used to read ahead then I’d get called on to read a part and I’d have to be like “hold on while I flip back 10000000 pages to where you are”. I am a Person A for certain classics (Austen & Dumas for example) but I’m a person B for Steinbeck & Dickens.

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      • Yeah I always thought we could just read on our own and do it faster. Reading during class seemed pointless. I was an English major, but I found I enjoyed writing papers more than I enjoyed reading

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        • I’ve only studied English as far as AS-Level (like, age 17? I don’t know what the first year of 6th Form translates to in the US) but i always liekd a bit of both depending on my mood, some books I didn’t mind analysing but others I hated (Of Mice and Men especially)

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  3. I LOVE the way you’ve done this blog post – the Prezi is such a clever idea! I think I’m a B person, which is ironic as I studied English literature at university…I don’t understand people who refuse to read anything published after 1950, but I know I should probably expand my reading habits pre-1950 a little more – might have to give your suggestion of graphic novels a go!

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