Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sequels as Homage

... the urge to write sequels and prequels is almost always an homage of sorts. We don’t want more of books we hate. The books that get re-written and re-imagined are beloved. We don’t want them ever to be over. We pay them the great compliment of imagining that they’re almost real: that there must be more to the story, and that characters we know so well — Elizabeth Bennet, for one, or Sherlock Holmes, who has probably inspired more sequels than any other fictional being — must have more to their lives.
Charles McGrath's essay on literary prequels and sequels entitled The Sincerest Form of Lawsuit Bait is at The New York Times and takes in Austen + Zombies as well as J.D Salinger's injunction to halt the publication of Fredrik Colting's 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye.

McGrath notes that :
... Mr. Colting’s book has ... become a literary cause célèbre, with a number of legal experts, including one from The New York Times, seeking to overturn the judge’s decision. The argument is that the Colting text is “transformative”: that instead of being a mere rip-off, it adds something original and substantive to Mr. Salinger’s version.

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