3 Top Revisionist Novels: Telling the Tale a Different Way

(DGIwire) – Famous novels present a particular point of view: readers and audiences quickly become familiar with the protagonist and antagonist and how they interact. In recent years, it has become something of a trend to re-envision classic works from the perspective of a different character—sometimes one who was maligned in the original. Here are three outstanding examples of “revisionist” literature:

  • Wicked: Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West—subsequently adapted into a hit Broadway musical—paints a sympathetic portrait of Elphaba, the misunderstood green-skinned girl who grows up to become the main villain of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
  • Darcy’s Story: Janet Aylmer’s 2006 work retells Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice through the eyes of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. In the original, Mr. Darcy remained an intriguing enigma, his thoughts, feelings and motivations hidden behind a cold, impenetrable exterior. In these pages, Aylmer gives Darcy a chance to narrate events as he experienced them.
  • Hook’s Tale: Move over, Peter Pan. In his delightfully engaging debut novel, Hook’s Tale: Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself (Scribner, 2017), John Leonard Pielmeier suggests that there’s a lot more to know about one of literature’s most memorable pirates. Needless to say, Captain Hook comes off a lot more sympathetic in this book.

“Did Captain Hook get a bad rap in J. M. Barrie’s original?” Pielmeier asks. “In my novel, I suggest the answer is ‘yes’—and take off from there.”

Hook’s Tale explores the childhood of Hook: his quest for buried treasure, his friendship with Peter Pan and the story behind the swashbuckling world of Neverland. As readers learn, Captain James Cook (a/k/a Hook)—long defamed as a vicious pirate—was in fact a dazzling wordsmith who left behind a vibrant, wildly entertaining and entirely truthful memoir. His chronicle offers a counter-narrative to the works of Barrie, a “dour Scotsman” whose spurious accounts got it all wrong. Now Pielmeier is proud to present this crucial historic artifact in its entirety for the first time.

Hook’s Tale offers a radical new version of a classic story, bringing readers into a much richer, darker and enchanting version of Neverland than ever before. The characters that our hero meets—including the terrible Doctor Uriah Slinque and a little girl named Wendy—lead him to the most difficult decision of his life: whether to submit to the temptation of eternal youth or to embrace the responsibilities of maturity and the inevitability of his own mortality.

“There’s much more to learn about Captain Hook, and I am confident that readers—whether they are Peter Pan fans or not—will find it all very interesting,” adds Pielmeier.