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66 Plots Updated - Part 1 (Updating Classic Literature with Modern Technology) by [Needham, Mark]
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66 Plots Updated - Part 1 (Updating Classic Literature with Modern Technology) Kindle Edition

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Would Tess of the D'Urbervilles have led a happier life if she had been able to send text messages? Would Anna Karenina have avoided suicide if she had been able to bitch about Vronksy on Twitter? And would Jane Fairfax have looked foolish asking Frank Churchill "I beg of you, please delete all my texts"?

Would E.M. Forster would have been able to connect if he had used Facebook? Would Gatsby be as great if he had just cut his hair and changed his profile name? Would Google Earth have spotted the Diamond as Big as the Ritz? Could Skype have saved the career of Thomas Cromwell? The answers are all in 66 Plots Updated.

66 Plots Updated looks at the effect which new technology might have had on the literature of the great tradition, and asks if these gadgets could have made a difference to the lives of famous fictional characters.

Typically, the issue of whether new technologies have made us happier is approached with surveys, most of which seem to be sponsored by someone with a vested interest. To answer the question “Does Facebook increase or decrease isolation?”, for example, researchers asked a panel of 1200 users a number of questions about their feelings of loneliness and isolation. Their conclusion:“We discovered that the more people use social networks, the better they feel.” But as these researchers were paid by Facebook, what else did could they be expected to report?

Part 1 of 66 Famous Plots Updated with Modern Technology looks at the happiness of individuals, by looking at the plots of some of the greatest works of literature of all time, and wondering what would have happened had mobile phones, messaging and social networks existed at the time they were written.

And behind the humour there is a serious point. Many romances must have been saved by a well timed text message. The ability to communicate a small fact, a word of thanks, or of apology or regret, instantly, across oceans, with an extraordinary degree of accuracy must have changed more lives than we can ever know.

The plots updated in Part 1 include
Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill from Emma,
Jean de Florette,
Manon des Sources,
Romeo and Juliet,
Anthony and Cleopatra,
West Side Story,
Jane Eyre,
The Go-Between,
Sherlock Holmes, The Master Blackmailer
Somerset Maugham's The Letter,
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,
Sherlock Holmes, A Case of Identity
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,
Howard's End,
Theseus and the Minotaur
Eugene Onegin
Death Comes for the Archbishop
Pride and Prejudice,
The Great Gatsby,
The Diamond as big as the Ritz,
Lost Horizon,
Wolf Hall,
Tess again
The Rocky Horrow Picture Show,
The Duchess of Malfi
101 Geotagged Dalmations,
Notes from Overground,
Howard's End - with email discovery,
Heart of Darkness,
A Passage to India,
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne,

More details of the book, and the promotional schedule under which both this part and Part 2 are periodically given away free, are at

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  • Format: Kindle Edition
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever and thought-provoking take on modern life as well as classic lit Jan. 29 2012
By AFW - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
66 Plots Updated examines how classic literature would be changed if authors were to update their plots with the use of modern technology (much as the recent trend of books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies have done with the use of monsters). Highlighting a broad range of dramatic works from the more modern West Side Story to Anna Karenina and the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, the plots presented within give an amusing take on what would happen if things we take for granted today (say, the text message) were incorporated into those stories.

While 66 Plots Updated is very funny, there are many intriguing questions behind the "updates" presented and ones that the reader should consider while reading this work. As one example, a point that comes up frequently in these plots is how much communication has changed and how specifically that has affected writers' ability to plot. After all, how dramatic is waiting minutes for an email as opposed to waiting weeks or months for a letter from a lover gone to war? Has modern life spoiled us for grand drama? Or has it simply changed the ways in which that drama occurs?

These are just a couple of the questions that I considered as I read the 66 Plots books. All around, I found the books just as inspiring as I did clever. A good read with many ideas to consider, particularly if you're a writer yourself.