October 14, 2013 - 16:01 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Alexander McCall Smith, creator of the bestselling The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novel series, is to write a modern updating of Jane Austen’s 1815 novel, Emma, The Telegraph reported.
The Rhodesian-born McCall Smith is the third writer confirmed to be taking part in The Austen Project, a series of contemporary re-workings of the English writer’s six published novels. The first, Joanna Trollope’s Sense and Sensibility, is to be published on October 24 and the second, Val McDermid’s Northanger Abbey, will appear in spring 2014.
McCall Smith has commented that the opportunity to write “a contemporary version of Emma is both a privilege and a real challenge". He went on to call Emma “one of the finest novels in the English language” and “possibly Jane Austen's most thought-provoking and interesting book”. Trollope was equally gushing in her praise for both the author and the original novel, noting McCall Smith’s “form in creating a heroine” shown in his detective novels would stand him in good stead when tackling this “great” Austen heroine.
The Austen project is the not the first attempt at updating classic stories. In recent times, crime writer Jeffrey Deaver has written a present-day James Bond novel and Francesca Segal published Costa-winning The Innocents, a modern story loosely based on Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence.
There have also been a number of instances of modern writers “writing as” classic authors, including Sebastian Faulks forthcoming PG Wodehouse book, Anthony Horrowitz’s Sherlock Holmes novel and William Boyd's recent Bond novel, Solo. In many ways, this phenomenon is the publishing world’s way of aping contemporary Hollywood’s fascination with remakes and sequels.