Continuing on a thought from yesterday, after broaching the subject of the Companion novel it seems only natural to mention the odd success that adaptations enjoy. Adaptations are not in the same league as companion novels though many would be quick to loop them into the same category. Truthfully, adaptations, while operating on some of the same guidelines as Companion novels, have a great deal more freedom in their construction. And speaking of the construction analogy here, if a companion novel is an attempt to build something new in an already constructed universe, an adaptation, or retelling is basically knocking the old universe down and building something new fangled on its sturdy foundation. The same characters might be there, but they have been outfitted with new personalities, new clothes, new time period, new motivations, and so on. This is why adaptations are so popular, and also the secret to their success. When a writer sets out to retell an old story, they don't set out to continue it as writers of companions do; instead they set out to create something new, with a few bits of borrowed material.
Indeed, I think the success formula of adaptations is that they bring a level of familiarity, even comfort to the reader while creating a new story. Plus adaptations are expected to take interesting liberties with the characters they are borrowing for their piece. Frank Beddor took extreme liberties in his Looking Glass Wars trilogy, blending science fiction and fantasy elements to create a very unique version of the Alice in Wonderland story. There is mystery series featuring the charming duo of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy as a pair of genteel sleuths. Not to mention the fifty or so different versions which borrow the lovers for various works of romance, chic lit, and other genres it has actually become difficult to remember how the real Mr. and Mrs. Darcy behaved, though the romances are interesting. An even more reproduced set of characters would be the knights of Arthurian legend. There have been retellings of Arthurian legend in every century, including this one, such as the very memorable Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, I wonder if any of the creators of the original characters were still alive to see their creations behaving as such what they would have to say to such a statement then. Somehow I don’t think Austen would necessarily be pleased with Mr. Darcy in a few of the romance novels I have come across, then again….she might.