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Classic Books Whose Sequels Have Different Authors

How would you feel if you wrote a classic novel (as you do) and years later, some pretender to your literary throne wrote a sequel? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all. Would you be flattered, or would you be outraged? I’d be a mixture of both. I didn’t even like coloring books as a child because no matter how nicely I colored the pictures, they were still drawn by somebody else and, therefore, I wouldn’t feel like they were really my achievement. I like having achievements.

 

Anyway, I guess I’d also feel pretty flattered that someone wanted to write that level of fan fiction based on my work. And if that work had already achieved classic status, then I’d probably be pretty happy with my lot and probably much more easy-going than my coloring-book-rejecting, achievement-loving child self. Anyway, until that happens, let’s take a look at some of the authors to whom this happened. Granted, the majority of them were deceased by the time crazed fans with successful writing careers of their own took it upon themselves to continue the stories.

 

1. The Catcher in the Rye

 

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Swedish author Frederik Colting 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye. In the book, ‘Mr. C’ escapes from a nursing home and returns to Manhattan. Colting published the novel under the pseudonym John David California. The book can’t be published in the US or Canada until the copyright on Salinger’s classic expires. The Salinger estate, unsurprisingly, were not happy with it. 

 

2. Pride and Prejudice

 

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So, Jane Austen’s masterpiece has spawned approximately one million sequels, spin-offs, and ‘inspired-by’s in its time, but the generally accepted ‘official’ (though not actually) sequel is P.D. James’ Death Comes to Pemberley. The famed crime writer takes a darker spin on the classic tale and centers the plot around a murder at the stately home of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett, with the dastardly Mr. Wickham as the prime suspect. Shounds shpooky. Want to go even shpookier? Why not try the somewhat clumsily titled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith?

 

3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

 

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Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer was handpicked by Douglas Adams’ widow Jane Belson to pen And Another Thing… Colfer said of the experience: “I realized early on that I had to focus on the story and not worry about anything else. The danger was finding myself unable to get out of my own head because I was too aware of the legacy I was taking on writing the book.” In a review for the Observer, Euan Ferguson said “Colfer has pulled off the near-impossible.”

 

4. Rebecca

 

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Mrs. de Winter by Susan Hill follows the protagonist of Daphne Du Maurier’s classic and her husband, Mr. de Winter as they return to England, a decade after the fire that destroyed their stately home, Manderley. Mrs. Danvers makes a comeback and, unsurprisingly, has not chilled out. No, she out for blood. 

 

5. Jane Eyre 

 

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Perhaps one of the most beloved, respected, and generally lauded sequels-by-someone-else of all time, Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea is actually a prequel to Jane Eyre. It explores the life of Charlotte Brontë’s ‘madwoman in the attic,’ prior to her life in England as Bertha. A widely studied postcolonial text, it follows Antoinette Cosway, a Creole heiress and her eventual marriage to an unpleasant English man. The book explores themes of displacement, gender relations, and colonialism. Everybody loves it because it’s smart and great. 

 

So if the sequel/prequel was as good as Wide Sargasso Sea, I’d be pretty pleased with what my work has led to. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, though? I’m not so sure.

 

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