Devotees of Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters may wish to loosen their corsets and have the smelling salts within reach.
Some of the greatest works of English literature have been controversially “sexed up” for the 21st century.
Following the success of erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey, one enterprising publisher has given classics such as Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights a bawdy makeover.
The existing texts have been interspersed with more racy scenes – some in toe-curling language that would surely have made the original authors blush.
Other titles to be published in the Clandestine Classics collection include Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories featuring Sherlock Holmes and Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
The announcement comes after “mummy porn” novel Fifty Shades of Grey became the fastest-selling book of the year, making author EL James an estimated £6.5million in book sales and film rights.
However, Jane Eyre fans who are content with the protagonist revealing little more than ‘Reader, I married him’ in the final chapter of the original might be less than impressed to discover that she has ‘explosive sex with Mr Rochester’ in the publisher’s erotic version.
In Wuthering Heights, meanwhile, heroine Catherine Earnshaw ‘enjoys bondage sessions’ with Heathcliff, while sleuth Sherlock Holmes has a sexual relationship with his sidekick Dr Watson in the updated edition.
Previous adaptations of the books, such as the 1995 film version of Pride and Prejudice starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth as Elizabeth and Darcy, have tended to follow the classic texts more closely.
But because the copyright on the original titles has lapsed, the publisher is free to adapt them.
Ann Channon, from Jane Austen’s House Museum, said: ‘I feel it’s almost desperate. A lot of people seem to be looking for a quick fix because they’re bored. In Pride and Prejudice everything is already there but people are too lazy to bother to understand.
“Jane Austen was writing with passion, she had heart and feelings but these were restrained by the morals of her time.
“Some things are better left to the imagination and Jane Austen encouraged people to use their imaginations. These new ‘erotic’ versions are gratuitous.” The raunchy adaptations will be available as e-books, but may be made into printed copies later if they are a success.
The publisher behind them, Total-E-Bound, has drafted in some of its most popular writers to update the texts. British-born author Sierra Cartwright, who is penning the new version of Jane Eyre, said: ‘The biggest challenge is to be sure it’s fitting with Jane’s character and that the additions don’t change the beautiful flow of the story.’
The first five Clandestine Classics will be released at the end of this month. Claire Siemaszkiewicz, founder of Total-E-Bound, said: ‘Readers will finally be able to read what the books could have been like if erotic romance had been acceptable in that day and age.
‘We recognise it’s a bold move but we’re keeping the works as close to the originals as possible. It’s not our intention to distort them.’ - Daily Mail