Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Artist Unleashed: WRITING A FRESH TWIST ON A CLASSIC TALE by Catherine Stine

I write YA and NA novels and also teach college lit part time. When I was assigned to teach Christopher Marlow's Doctor Faustus, I alternately balked and thrilled at the challenge. The story is about a brilliant college professor who, after earning what is now equivalent to a PhD, is bored and asks the medieval version of "Is this all there is?" He has noble ideas: he wants to enrich public education, find cures for dreadful diseases—even raise the dead. Hey, rewind ... you need superpowers for that, right?!

You sure do. Thus, he falls into temptation when he calls up Mephistopheles to grant him these superhuman powers. Dr. Faustus thinks he has nothing to worry about. He doesn't believe in the devil, or hell. He's a modern man of science. Damnation, piffle! He makes a vow with the devil's ...

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  1. I love, love, love fresh takes on classic tales! Every story seems to be an opportunity for near-infinite remixes, subversions, and updates. I like the author's changing attitude toward Faust. One of my favorite mantras is "To take a myth literally is to miss the point." I feel that I only truly appreciate a story--any story, old or new--after I've taken it apart to see what it's made of and how it works.

    And to answer the questions: I'm working on a Sleeping Beauty vs. Beauty and the Beast tale currently. I chose those two because they are so basic to our collective consciousness, and they are kind of the same story with the genders reversed, if you hold them side-to-side.

  2. That tale has seen many twists.
    I'd always heard the musician Alice Cooper made a Faust deal with the devil. I wonder if it's true...

  3. Hi Jess and Catherine - congratulations .. your journey sounds interesting and then Dorianna sounds like a fascinating book ... definitely one to read at some stage ... great post and explaining to us how it came about ...

    The Dreadful story of Harriet and the matches - used to be the one that worried me as a child ... I'm sure that could be twisted ..... probably is everyday with all the fires/arson we hear about ... cheers Hilary

  4. Hilary, the Little Match Girl? If so, sure! One of the old fairytale images that is STILL stuck in my head is that weird dog of the underworld who has saucer-shaped eyes! Does anyone remember which fairytale that was from?

    Alex C, yup, I think Alice Cooper made a deal with a couple of at least minor demons. Hahaha.
    Jeannie, good luck on polishing your own fairytale twist. It sounds good. I enjoy a mashup of two tales now and then.

  5. I'm fascinated with the story of Turondot. I think it's a cool story that would make a great book.

  6. Melissa, that's a new one on me. I will have to check that one out.

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