Philip Pullman is just about to publish a book called “Grimm Tales for Young and Old” – a collection of Grimm’s Fairy Tales rewritten in more modern language.  From what I can tell from the publicity, the plots and endings are exactly the same, and only the language as been updated.  The question is, is it cheating if you don’t come up with your own storylines?

I’m not talking about modern versions here – for example, Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a sci fi version of Cinderella – but it’s different enough to the original that you want to read it anyway, just to find out what’s going to happen.  (Seriously, it’s a good book – Cinder is a cyborg, people live on the moon, and there are psychic powers.  I couldn’t put it down.  The sequel isn’t out until January, and I’m already chomping at the bit.)

I’m also not talking about people who take myths and legends and twist them to almost unrecognisable perversions of themselves – like Julian May’s Saga of the Exiles, which involves the Tuatha de Daanan and Balor One-Eye, although they are actually aliens and have different names.

There are plenty of other examples of good re-imaginings.

But Mr Pullman’s book does feel, at least from the descriptions, as if there’s nothing new in it.  No reason to read it if you have read the originals.  Maybe not even if you haven’t.  If other people – you or I for example – had tried to publish this book, we would have been laughed at.  He can only do it because he’s already famous.  At least, that’s how it feels.

What do you think?

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