Daniel Cook (Editor), Nicholas Seager (Editor)

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript


    An adaptation is not vampiric: it does not draw the life-blood from its source and leave it dying or dead, nor is it paler than the adapted work. It may, on the contrary, keep that prior work alive, giving it an afterlife it would never have had otherwise. Linda Hutcheon The choice of this metaphor [afterlife] creates a relation between the source-text and its avatars that is quite different from those considered in the study of influences, sources, or intertextual echoes, which give priority and power to the source-text; speaking in terms of afterlives shifts the balance further down the line towards new figures, new openings, new chances. Terence Cave Hutcheon's insistent nots and nors attest to a lingering defensiveness in what has become a seminal study in its field, A Theory of Adaptation (2006, revised 2013). After all, adaptation theorists continue to grapple with critical questions that seem old-fashioned in an age of fervent fan fiction, multimedia crossovers, mash-ups, remakes, and swedings: Is it faithful to the source? Is it as good as the original? Although it is a wide-ranging and increasingly diverse field, adaptation studies still privileges investigations into the transfer of novels (typically in the realist tradition) to films (typically in the narrative tradition), a sign of the continued influence of studies such as Brian McFarlane's Novel to Film (1996) and Deborah Cartmell and Imelda Whelehan's anthology Adaptation: From Text to Screen, Screen to Text (1999). But the second edition of Hutcheon's study, which includes a timely epilogue on new media by Siobhan O'Flynn, makes a powerful case for the importance of pursuing creative adaptation across a range of platforms alongside film and theatre, such as video games, pop music, and theme parks. Bakhtinian theorists like Robert Stam have compellingly argued for the dynamic flux of adaptation as an ongoing process within a larger matrix of allusion and invocation rather than a product, a move away from its treatment as one-directional, the simple ‘transport of form and/or content from a source to a result, such as from novel to film’. The expansiveness opened up by the intertextual turn in adaptation studies is highly appealing, but it circles back to an important, disquieting question posed by Hutcheon: ‘What is Not an adaptation?’

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Afterlives of Eighteenth-Century Fiction
    PublisherCambridge University Press
    Number of pages19
    ISBN (Electronic)9781107294424
    ISBN (Print)9781107054684, 9781107668584
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Arts and Humanities


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