LITERATURE AND FILM- A GUIDE TO THE THEORY AND PRACTICE; Stam, Robert, Raengo, Alessandro. Print
The film adaptation calls up the question of how we speak about the film adaptation of novels. The conventional language of adaptation criticism has often been profoundly moralistic, rich in terms that imply that the cinema has somehow done a demonstrates, one might easily imagine any number of positive trapes for adaptation, yet the standard rhetoric has often deployed an elegiac discourse of loss, lamenting what has been “lost’’ in the transition from novel to film while ignoring what has been “gained”.
A second source to adaptation derives from dichotomous thinking that presumes a rivalry between film and literature. The writer and the film maker , according to an old anecdote, are traveling in the same boat but they both harbor a secret desire to throw the overboard. The inter-art relation is seen as a Darwinian struggle to the death rather than a dialogue offering mutual benefitand cross-fertilization. Adaptation becomes a zero-sum game where film is perceived as the upstart enemy storming the ramparts of literature.In Freudian terms , film is seen in terms of Bloom’s “ anxiety of influence’’whereby the adaptation as Oedipus son symbolically slays the source-text as “ father’’.
A third source of hostility to adaptation is iconophobia. This deeply rooted cultural prejudice against the visual arts is traceable not only to the Judiac-Muslim-Protestant prohibitions of “ graven images’’ , but also to the Platonic and Neoplatonic depreciation of the world of phenomenal appearance.