If presenting Wuthering Heights like a new Stephenie Meyer gets people reading, does it matter?
If you said Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, then give yourself a point. I, too, will give myself a point for knowing this, although I confess I cheated: I haven't read Twilight or any of its sequels, nor have I seen the film, and I don't have the faintest clue who Bella is. I do know what her favourite read is, though, because a cover for a new edition of Wuthering Heights tells me so.
Novels getting a makeover because of a TV or movie adaptation is nothing new, though this is perhaps the first time I've ever seen a classic of English literature get re-branded because it is the favourite book of a character in another work of fiction.
And it isn't just the metaphysical endorsement from Twilight's Bella … the new edition of Wuthering Heights, from Harper, borrows the contemporary Gothic design style of Meyer's successful series. The American edition, coming in October, re-presents the Brontë novel with a cover comprising a black background and blood-red rose, while the UK edition opts for a tender white bloom, and the very vampiric cover blurb: Love Never Dies.
Should we be appalled, or approving of this latest move? Those of us who find ourselves shaking our heads and muttering, "Dreadful, dreadful", are possibly marvelling at the chutzpah of those who would make an enduring classic such as Wuthering Heights (they're still making telly out of it, 160-odd years on) into a pale imitation of a mass-market publishing phenomenon aimed at adolescent girls.
Those of us who don't find it too offensive may be ruminating on all the extra sales that Wuthering Heights might pick up thanks to Meyer's championing of it, and on the young readers who might otherwise not have been exposed to the Brontë novel – at least one blogger is reading her way through all the classic novels namechecked in the Twilight books, and reporting back on her blog, Bella's Bookshelf.