What Is Classic Remarks?
Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.
How Can I Participate?
Leave your link to your post on your own blog in the comments below. And feel free to comment with your thoughts even if you are not officially participating with a full post!
(Readers who like past prompts but missed them have also answered them on their blog later and linked back to us at Pages Unbound, so feel free to do that, too!)
This Week’s Prompt:
Do you prefer Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys? Why?
I first fell in love with the Nancy Drew stories when I was growing up and my mother pulled a few of the classic yellow hardbacks out of some forgotten box for me to read. I am sure she does not remember this moment, but I do, because it would instill in me a love of the girl sleuth that continues to this day. Nancy Drew was a smart, skilled teenager who never backed down from a case and who always solved the mystery, regardless of the obstacles she faced. In addition, she was always confident, kind, and polite. If I didn’t want to be Nancy, I definitely wanted to be like her.
Nancy Drew was created in the 1930s, but the remarkable thing about her is that she continues to evolve to this day. I fell in love with the yellow hardbacks, which were revised in the 1960s to remove parts of the stories that were then recognized as racist or otherwise socially unacceptable. I was intrigued, however, to learn that some of the originals had been been reissued in the 1990s, along with content warnings, so that readers could compare the original stories with the revised ones. I was surprised to discover that the Nancy of the 1930s was often sassy and bold. Sometimes, she even did things like shoot rattlesnakes! The revised yellow hardbacks actually present a more domesticated and fashion-oriented Nancy–something closer to the feminine ideal of that era.
But the reimagination of Nancy did not stop there. Adaptations of Nancy are everywhere! Younger readers can pick up the Clue Crew series or the Nancy Drew Diaries. Graphic novel fans can meet a more environmentally-conscious Nancy who drives a hybrid car. Adult fans looking for a more mature Nancy can try the new CW show. It’s a testament to Nancy’s power that creators keep wanting to update her, to see what Nancy Drew would do in a contemporary environment.
This part of Nancy–her ability to adapt–is an aspect of that I also admire. I continue to enjoy the yellow hardbacks that first introduced me to Nancy, but I also love that her story never really ends. My favorite contemporary adaptations of Nancy are the video games released by HerInteractive. These games allow players to take on the persona of Nancy (though sometimes also Bess, George, and the Hardy Boys) to solve mysteries around the world. The games’ interpretation of Nancy–smart, bold, and, yes, a little bit sassy–fits right in with how I imagine Nancy from my reading. But they also manage to place her successfully in the present day–something not every adaptation has been able to achieve. The games show that Nancy is not a period piece. She is an icon who can continue to transform and inspire.
I love Nancy Drew because she shows that girls can be smart, independent, and fearless. I never even picked up a Hardy Boys mystery because Nancy resonated with me, and I didn’t feel the need to look elsewhere for similar fare. Nor was I attracted to the Hardy Boys as potential love interests for Nancy, as many fans are. To me, the Nancy Drew stories worked perfectly just as they were. Nancy turned 90 this past April. Butt she remains just as relevant as ever.