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Victorian Literature and Film Adaptation By Abigail Burnham Bloom and Mary Sanders P ...

Chapter :  Introduction
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Victorian Literature and Film Adaptation


Reframing the Victorians

Thomas Leitch

Victorian Literature and Film Adaptation is only the most recent in a long line of such volumes as The English Novel and the Movies, The Classic Novel from Page to Screen, Victorian Afterlife,and Film/Literature/Heritage—not to mention associated entries such as The Classic American Novel and the Movies, Eighteenth-Century Fiction on Screen, and Henry James Goes to the Movies.Such a weighty bookshelf suggests not only an enduring interest in adaptation but also a more specific focus on cinematic treatments of Victorian novels. So powerful is the attraction of this subject, in fact, that Simone Murray has complained about the predominance in adaptation studies of films based on “the nineteenth-century and Modernist Anglophone literary canon” and urged for greater attention to adaptations of “contemporary literary fiction” instead (7).

The reasons for the emphasis on Victorian adaptations date to the days of silent film, whose obvious roots in Victorian fiction go beyond the often stilted dialogue and expository intertitles of early adaptations