I'm not particularly outraged about Clandestine Classics. If the excerpts are any indication, the experience of reading such novels will be roughly akin to that of an instructor who picks up an undergraduate essay and finds globs of unsourced Michel Foucault lurking amongst the otherwise sophomore-level sentences. But in reverse, as it were. In any event, what's jarring about the various "updated" novels on the publisher's agenda (well, except for the homoerotic Sherlock Holmes update, because that's been around so long that it fails to jar) is that they resolutely ignore at least two things:
1) There is sexuality in nineteenth-century British literature, some of it pretty overt. Didn't I already write about this?
2) If you're going to go the "insta-sex, just add...you know what I mean" route, then why not put the (badly written) explicit sex where the (non-pornographic) sex already exists? Why torture the novels' plots? As I commented over at Metafilter, I haven't the slightest clue when Heathcliff and Cathy are supposed to find the time for their S&M games. Are we supposed to believe they were getting it on as children? After she's married (and pregnant?) And when is that scene between Jane Eyre and Rochester taking place, exactly?
To be more precise. The notion that Elizabeth Bennet would have sex with Mr. Darcy out of wedlock, if that is indeed what's happening, requires the reader to ignore everything else in the novel, including her family's reaction to her sister's escapade. This is not a "missing" scene; it's a scene that violates everything the novel has already established about Elizabeth, the natures of both "pride" and "prejudice," and, indeed, about Mr. Darcy. By the same token, making Catherine and Henry hook up in Northanger Abbey effectively produces a Gothic romance plot in a novel that is all about parodying such things (and good heavens, the thought of Henry Tilney sneaking into Catherine's room is unintentionally hilarious). (ETA: After I posted this, I checked the Mefi thread again and found user jb making some good comments about what's wrong with the sexed-up Austen.) Look, it's not as though middle- and upper-class Georgians never had premarital sex, because we know they did, but there is no suppressed premarital sex between the protagonists in these plots; the very logic of these novels makes any such ardent romping implausible. I suppose a good contrast would be the BBC adaptation of Daniel Deronda (with which I admittedly have a number of problems), in which the (bad) sex between Gwendolen and Grandcourt derives quite clearly from the hints dropped in the novel itself.