Thursday, 18 September 2008

Will Eoin Colfer taint Douglas Adams' masterpiece? (repost from other blog)

Eoin Colfer (pic) has been asked to write the sixth part of Douglas Adams' Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy 'trilogy', and some people are expressing concern.

I'm linking to the repost on RichardDawkins.net as well as the original Guardian article, because the comments at RD.net highlight a common concern raised whenever some piece of literature is 'continued', or a classic film is remade.

People seem to be worried that an inferior sequel or continuation somehow taints the original work. It doesn't. The original work is still there. Look at modernisations of Shakespeare. You may like them or loathe them, but the original plays are still available, entirely unaltered by any reinterpretation. My great uncle, Herbert M. Jenkins, was adamant that Shakespeare should be played in one of only two ways: Elizabethan dress, or the dress of the period the play was portraying. (He had a point - there's a passage in Julius Caesar where Caesar is described by an onlooker as "throwing open his doublet". No mention of him wearing a toga, which seems more likely attire for ancient Rome.)

I think Uncle Bertie was wrong. Authors, dramatists, film-makers, indeed creators of any kind are free to draw on any sources for their inspiration, copyright permitting. They may or may not do a good job (though that's often a matter of opinion or artistic judgement). But whatever they do, they will not extinguish the original work, which is available for anyone to experience in its pristine original form.

Or even to make yet another adaptation.
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