What do you get when you combine Jorge Louis Borges, Vladimir Nabokov, Pablo Neruda, and W.H. Auden? You get a list of the losers of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Literature. The prize was won by the controversial Soviet author Mikhail Sholokhov, who had spoken out against granting the Nobel to Boris Pasternak a few years earlier. Not such bad company on the losing side, there.
The Austen Project, launched last year, asks prominent contemporary writers to reimagine Jane Austen’s classics in modern times. (Thus far, we’ve seen Joanna Trollope’s Sense and Sensibility and Val McDermid’s Northanger Abbey.) In perhaps the most significant adaptation yet, Curtis Sittenfeld has announced that her Pride and Prejudice will feature a 39-year-old Jane Bennet. After all, Jane (23 in the original novel), is “pretty much teetering on the edge of spinsterhood.”
Ordinarily I would caution against reading a novel’s first draft, however in the case of Finnegans Wake, perhaps all rules should be tossed out the window. With this one, it seems as though any and all supplemental material might help unlock the finished product’s mysteries. Case in point: the entire first draft of Joyce’s most perplexing novel. (Of course, when all else fails, there’s always Michael Chabon to save the day.)