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  •  When Literary heroes transform to folk heroes (6+ / 0-)

    this is what happens. I agree that it is important to preserve the intended and original meaning of literary symbols, but the most powerful of them often become cultural symbols, bending to the needs of each new generation and cultural subset that embraces them.

    Take, for example, Superman, and how even his creator morphed his character from a hero of the people, to an iconic symbol of American ideals.

    Jesus is an even better example, as he is exemplified by every color and cultural taste to the point that the same Jesus represents entirely opposite things from one household to another.

    I'm not dead yet.

    by Krum on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 10:07:44 AM PST

    •  Reinterpretation (6+ / 0-)

      These works aren't "bastardizations", they are reinterpretations. "Man of La Mancha" is quite different than "Don Quixote", it reflects a more romantic interpretation. It's not an implausible interpretation to interpret Holmes and Watson as gay - at the time, there were gay people who kept up the appearance of "just being friends". That doesn't mean that Doyle would have interpreted it this way, of course.

      Some reinterpretations are better than others. A couple years ago, the SciFi channel put out a Flash Gordon mini-series. But an understated Ming the Merciless? Doesn't work. Ming has to steal the show.

      Humans have been reinterpreting stories for untold ages. If someone makes a reinterpretation of Sherlock Holmes, Holmes isn't harmed by it, it's still there.

      The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

      by A Citizen on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 10:47:23 AM PST

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      •  Man of La Mancha (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TheFatLadySings, Brecht, Aunt Pat

        I would take Man of La Mancha less as a reinterpretation than as an adaptation making a classic novel more accessible to the modern audience.

        I read (an English translation) of Don Quixote as a teenager. It was a hard slog -- the language being rather dense for an American teenager accustomed to reading contemporary fiction. But I loved the story.

        The musical frames Cervantes story with a little bit of Cervantes personal story (imprisonment).

        I agree that the original work was more of a burlesque than a romance, but I don't think the writers of the musical significantly changed who Don Quixote is. He's a man who sees nobility where everyone else sees vulgarity. Cervantes played it for laughs. The musical plays it for pathos.

        Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

        by elsaf on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 10:57:56 AM PST

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        •  I read Cervantes as a teenager and could (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elsaf, Jane Lew, Aunt Pat

          barely remain in my chair. I was laughing so hard it hurt. I still have that translation, which had footnotes explaining puns that never made it into English.

          It may be the translation rather than the text that was inaccessible.

          And even though it all went wrong I'll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah! -Leonard Cohen .................@laurenreichelt

          by TheFatLadySings on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 11:14:15 AM PST

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        •  Man of La Mancha (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elsaf, Aunt Pat, Nailbanger

          In Man of La Mancha, the fictional version of Cervantes talks about preferring to see the world as it should be, rather than seeing the world as it is. But that's the world-view the real Cervantes was satirizing.

          Cervantes didn't admire Don Quixote's "impossible dream" as the the writer of the musical, he uses Don Quixote to expose the ludicrous nature of the romances of the day.

          Those romances that Cervantes satirized are long gone. Today, we look at Don Quixote as someone to be admired for his ideals, but that wasn't what Cervantes was going for. But each generation reinterprets and repurposes the stories it inherits.

          I've read and loved both, but they are really different takes.

          The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

          by A Citizen on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 12:16:32 PM PST

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          •  I have to admit... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Aunt Pat

            I read the original novel without context. I didn't know what Cervantes was satirizing.

            But, I think the character hasn't actually been changed, simply the perspective that we view him from.

            Cervantes wrote him as a clown. The modern audience, seeing from its own prejudices, sees the clown as noble.

            The character who has been re-imagined is Cervantes.

            Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

            by elsaf on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 12:30:40 PM PST

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            •  Reimagine one, you reimagine the other. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Aunt Pat, elsaf

              When you reimagine Cervantes, you change his interpretation of his own work, and in doing so, you change the interpretation of the character.

              In the book, he makes a firm renunciation of his dreams of knight-errantry, while in Man of La Mancha, he renounces it temporaraily, only for his last act to be to recant his renunciation, and re-embrace his dreams of knight-errantry.

              In Don Quixote, his friends try to help him back to sanity for his own good, while in Man of La Mancha, it is strongly implied that his friends are being selfish, for example, the song "I'm only thinking of him".

              The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

              by A Citizen on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 12:50:56 PM PST

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      •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

        I couldn't agree with you more - especially since the "Holmes and Watson are lovers" idea first surfaced in the late 1960s, and the "Holmes and Irene Adler are lovers" idea surfaced in the 1930s.  These are not new ideas by any means.

    •  Some heroes are bigger than the books they're from (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat, elsaf

      Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Frankenstein are each so iconic that they step right out of the original pages, and leave their books behind.

      For each of these three, many authors (of books, movies and TV shows) have been so inspired by the originals that they wrote characters whose DNA is 50% derivative. But other authors have merely taken the icon and tweaked it to their ends. If their art is good enough, I forgive them.

      Boris Karloff's Frankenstein is the one we all know - he looms larger than Mary Shelley's in our minds. Branagh's Frankenstein looked back to Shelley.

      Daniel Craig's James Bond has an edge he may have learned from Jason Bourne. Skyfall returns to some of the leitmotifs of 60s Bond (e.g. his old car, and Moneypenny), but is also a very 21st century spy.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 02:25:02 PM PST

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      •  Oh, yes (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jarbyus, Brecht

        And reinterpreting these characters and these books happens all the time.   Just look at the way Shakespeare, and grand opera, and even, for God's sake, comic books characters have been reimagined and reinterpreted over the years.  

        Example:  there was a highly acclaimed Bollywood-style production of Handel's Giulio Caesar in Egitto in England about ten years ago.  Caesar and his soldier were stand-ins for the British Raj, Tolomeo and his men were the Ottoman Empire, Cleopatra wore a glittery black cocktail dress, there were zeppelins and modern warships in the background during a battle scene, and the dances were about as far from Baroque as it's possible to get without having everyone break into the Watusi.  The actual music was historically accurate (having William Christie conduct will do that) but everything else was very modern.

        And guess what?  The production was so enjoyable, and so popular, that Glyndebourne had to revive it a few years later.  It's going to be staged at the Met next spring and simulcast across the country, and I've already blocked off that Saturday on my calendar so I can see it at my local HD theater.  Normally I like my Baroque opera authentic, but denying myself this particular production because Caesar wears an officer's greatcoat is ridiculous.

        What this all means is that times change, people change, and art changes.  Maybe individuals don't like certain of these changes, but it doesn't mean they're bad, or wrong.  It simply means that they're different.

        •  I pretty much agree with what you're saying, Ellid (0+ / 0-)

          and appreciate all the knowledge you're bringing in your comments.

          elsaf wrote "I'm a Sherlock Holmes fan from way back. I read the stories for the first time when I was in junior high school". I'm wary of overanalyzing, but in general we make strong emotional connections at that age, so elsaf may be a little in love with the man elsaf first met years ago, just the way he looked then.

          elsaf is welcome to contest or correct this guess of mine.

          Shakespeare's work is the most frequently bastardized, and that's very apt. Shakespeare bastardized all his sources freely, and broke every rule. I don't think anyone, before him, had written a play like Henry IV, part 1, with its radical blend of tragedy, comedy and history.

          So the directors who set his plays in British India, gangster Chicago, or Nazi Germany, are just doing the same things to Shakespeare that he did to his own sources.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 09:12:46 AM PST

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