Customized Classics
April 30, 2003 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Custom paperback editions of classic novels starring YOU! Now also available in a "happy ending" edition! Didn't like that Romeo and Juliet die at the end? Choose the Happy Ending Version a new scene is added with a twist — the lovers live happily ever after! A short scene is added after Act V Scene III. It turns out the apothecary's poison didn't work and Romeo survives, and Juliet's stabbing of herself merely made her pass out. The problem with public domain is that the integrity of the original is lost once it's Disneyfied.
posted by riffola (20 comments total)
You know, this does have some historical precident.

David Garrick's Altered Ending to Romeo & Juliet
posted by grabbingsand at 10:20 AM on April 30, 2003

Their selection is pretty small. Why can't I star in Lysistrata or as a birthday gift for a friend, have him star in Oedipus Rex?
posted by Salmonberry at 10:45 AM on April 30, 2003


Add the Bible to their offerings, and maybe they'll be on to something!
posted by Sangre Azul at 10:47 AM on April 30, 2003

I'd like to see this with biographies.

"Now you too can be the architect of the Paris peace accords!"

"Thrill to your amazing depth of commitment as you join the resistance and turn down the Nobel prize."

"As the day of the Trinity test approaches, you will eat little and sleep less. You will be a gaunt shadow, prowling Los Alamos in the late night hours..."
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:54 AM on April 30, 2003

I vaguely remember something like this being available for kids storybooks when I was a kid. Or maybe it's another hallucination from all the jimsonweed and belladonna.
posted by jonmc at 11:43 AM on April 30, 2003

Dude, you shoulda said "spoilers"! I was on Act V Scene I; I thought they were gonna be alright. Damn.
posted by hackly_fracture at 11:50 AM on April 30, 2003

From the "happy" version:

Romeo: What sayest thou we hasten to Verona?

Ugh, and double ugh. They have exceeded the depths to which I would expect soulless leaches could plumb. But could someone please explain the need/point/value of the irreverent version?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:09 PM on April 30, 2003

Have I shared with you folks my idea for a revolutionary (pardon the pun) energy source, powered by famous authors spinning in their graces?
posted by Krrrlson at 12:35 PM on April 30, 2003

Gary Collins? Like the Gary Collins?!?
posted by grabbingsand at 12:56 PM on April 30, 2003

heh, reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Bart unearths an "alternate ending" to "Casablanca": [SPOILERS WARNING!] Hitler pops up out of Sam's piano, and is dispatched by Ilsa, who parachutes out of the plane to return to Rick, of course...they kiss and it fades out to the title, "The End...?" i foresee a combination of these personalized books and the customized virtual reality environments shown in "Minority Report" and "A.I."...sign me up to play Indiana Jones! :-P
posted by serafinapekkala at 1:18 PM on April 30, 2003

I've always been a big fan of happy endings, but only in certain Asian massage parlors...
posted by pjgulliver at 1:20 PM on April 30, 2003

you're right jon, they've had them for kid's books for a while, and for romance novels too.
posted by amberglow at 3:45 PM on April 30, 2003

This is the only decent argument for perpetual copyrights I have ever seen. All right Lessig, talk your way out of this one!

Reminds me how in one of the first showings of Ibsen's A Doll's House, the actress disagreed with the "sad" ending and, after the door slammed at the end of the play, she came back in and said "I changed my mind!"
posted by Hildago at 4:35 PM on April 30, 2003

Re: happy ending ... Romeo and Juliet

The superb Beard/Cerf/Durkee/Kelly Book of Sequels (unfortunately out of print) already did it better:

"The pharmacist who hath this poison sold
Perchance made timid by the awful law
That death for death's prescription doth prescribe
In place of poison put a potent draught
That causeth deepest sleep and nothing more ...

See here, the blade is set upon a spring
Concealed within the dagger's hollow hilt
Which doth contain a vial of ruby juice..."

etc etc
posted by raygirvan at 5:35 PM on April 30, 2003

My favorite part is their Pink Slip Special. As long as they don't include that in the book.
posted by alms at 6:23 PM on April 30, 2003

Ugh, and double ugh

Agreed. If they're going to do this, they should at least do it properly, like using the correct iambic pentameter.

Hidalgo: I think there are circumstances when this is artistically justified: my wife directed Barrie's The Admirable Crichton last year, and introduced via the staging a (sort-of) happy ending as opposed to the usual downbeat one. In this case , it was based on Barrie being on record as saying he'd considered it, but at the time "the stalls wouldn't stand it", and on the plot of Robinson's Eiland, the German play from which Crichton probably derived.
posted by raygirvan at 6:25 PM on April 30, 2003

Oh, this isn't so bad. It's not like they're colorizing old movies.

Seriously, the only thing I can see wrong with this is if they give the damn altered book a new copyright. Even some of Shakespeare's plays were changed work of earlier authors.

I want the Hamlet where he kills the King and gets married to the Queen. Or the one where Hamlet and the gravedigger change places. Or the one where the King is led off in chains muttering, "I'd gotten away with it if not for those pesky kids!"
posted by ?! at 7:22 PM on April 30, 2003

People have been recreating their own endings for awhile. Here is the synopsis of a movie that picks up where "Romeo and Juliet" ends. Disclaimer--I know one of the cast members.
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 9:29 PM on April 30, 2003

My first instinct is to take offense. This is some kind of curious blasphemy. To take such classic works and rewrite them with vanity. My gut instinct was to verbally spit at it. But then again, I AM quite vain, and the idea of rereading the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with "Zachary Garland" in the lead role. That IS tempting...
posted by ZachsMind at 9:52 PM on April 30, 2003

Rewriting/revisiting old classics in itself isn't bad... in fact, it can be quite the opposite (i.e., not bad). "Rosencranz and Guilderstern are Dead", for example, is a great way to revisit the events of Hamlet from a different perspective. There's nothing inherently wrong with sequels, revisions, alterations, alternate perspectives, whatever.

They just have to be good, is all. And this particular "happy" R&J ain't.

Elementary, my dear riffola, elementary.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:32 AM on May 1, 2003

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