Adaptations: The contemporary dilemmas

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Critics on adaptations The critical literature on adaptations is not extensive, but there has been a steady stream of publications since the 1960s which have been devoted to this 'hybrid' study. Caught between literary criticism and film studies, such work has not, even now, reached a happy compromise in its approach to the two media - despite the fact that, as early as 1969, Robert Richardson was arguing that 'literary criticism and film criticism can each benefit from the other' (Richardson 1969: 3). However, most critics seem to want to assert some congruence between the two narrative forms, which may explain the popularity of comparisons between authors and auteurs, most notably in the linkage between Joseph Conrad and D.W. Griffith. Conrad claimed in his 1897 preface to The Nigger of the Narcissus that above all his aim was to make the reader 'see', and D.W. Griffith asserted that 'the task I'm trying to achieve is above all to make you see' (quoted in Spiegel 1976: 4) . The attempt to inspire the visual responses of the reading audience is therefore held up as the key link between late realist and modernist novelists and the film-maker. This parallel has been so often cited in works of this nature that Giddings et al. cannily observe in their opening to the chapter on 'The literature/screen debate' that: 'it has become traditional in books concerned with screening the novel to open with the statements by Joseph Conrad, the novelist, and D.W. Griffith, the film-maker, which seem almost to echo one another' (Giddings et ai. 1990: 1). Earlier, Sergei Eisenstein drew a parallel between Dickens and Griffith in his 'Dickens, Griffith and the film today', asserting that Griffith had been led to the technique of montage through Dickens' use of the device of parallel action (see Richardson 1969: 17).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdaptations : from text to screen, screen to text
ISBN (Electronic)9781315006192
ISBN (Print)041516737X
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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