Adapting Eve & Adam – Intentions and Principles

Issues regarding intentions and principles loomed while adapting “Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Eve and Adam”. I was concerned that Eve’s character could change if I added new material to combine two separate stories by Twain. But I gave myself leeway to add material because I had no intention to change Eve’s character. Heck, I would not intentionally change any aspect of any character created by Mark Twain. My sole motive in adding new material was to keep dialogue going between Eve and Adam from beginning to end. I tried to keep Eve’s character in line with Twain’s Eve by closely considering what Eve had to say in her diary before the fall, along with the few things she had to say after the fall.

I also had Adam’s diary to guide me. It contains many entries after the fall that  comment about Eve’s actions and attitudes. His comments and observations were there for Eve to respond to, and I tried to make her respond as Twain would have.

I hope I did right by Twain when I added to his story. I tried, but there’s no way to know for sure. Nevertheless, whatever my failing might be in that regard, Eve remains interesting, likable, and admirable.

Violating our own Principle

In combining and adapting these stories, I admit I violated a fundamental principle of the Adapted Classics collection. The principle has to do with modifications. We only modify classic stories to accomplish three purposes. Sometimes we omit passages — often to get stories off to a faster start — if doing so won’t damage the story. Also, we have modified all the stories (usually with paragraph breaks) to make our illustrations fit nicely with important, visually interesting scenes. Finally, we modify difficult language (diction and syntax) that was originally written for adults who lived in a different era and simplify it to ease the reading experience for modern youth. But that’s it – we do not modify stories by adding content to alter characters, plots, outcomes, etc.

Then why would I choose these Twain stories to adapt knowing in advance I would be adding substantial content which would be perceived by many as if it came from Twain himself? I decided to do it because I liked Eve so much and also because I wanted to unite her with Adam. I didn’t know how else I could adapt “Eve” and unite her with “Adam” without putting words in her mouth. Call it a failure of my imagination. But there’s more.

Twain had inserted a few diary entries by Adam into “Eve’s Dairy”, but there are no entries by Eve in “Extracts from Adam’s Diary”. When I learned that Twain had always intended to unite the diaries, I decided to violate company principles by inventing and inserting entries by Eve into Adam’s diary. I saw no other way to effectively unite the stories using the original material at hand.

I do not intend to violate this company principle again. Some critics will probably decide that I shouldn’t have done it this time. I will understand. But I hope somebody reads my adaptation along with the original stories. I hope somebody passes judgement on whether I changed Eve’s character or not. I don’t think I did, but I’m curious to hear other opinions on that.

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