classic novels share with one another (77). Ginette Vincendeau collects a series of essays and reviews adopting just such a generic approach to the “museum aesthetic” of “heritage cinema” whose “concern…is to depict the past, but by celebrating rather than investigating it” (xviii). Elliott, subjecting literalized and structural analogies between avowedly verbal novels and visual films to rewardingly close critique, proposes “looking-glass analogies” as a superior alternative (209). Robert Stam, citing the ubiquity and normality of adaptation, suggests that it was “less an attempted resuscitation of an originary word than a turn in an ongoing dialectical process” (64). Linda Hutcheon, driven by a determination to broaden the field beyond novels and films to the whole range of adaptations, focuses on “the politics of intertextuality” that seek to explain how adaptations have been perceived and received “as adaptations” (xii, xiv). Simone Murray, responding to the call for “a sociology that takes into account the commercial apparatus, the audience, and the academic culture industry” (Naremore, “Introduction” 10), urges adaptation scholars to redefine their field as “a material phenomenon produced by a system of institutional interests and actors” seeking each to maximize their financial returns (Murray, 10).
All of these theorists take such care to distance their own work from the “interminable analyses of individual cases, comparisons between novels and their filmed versions” (Ray, 39), that the persistence of such case studies, including the ones in this volume, seems remarkable. What value does a volume such as this one, whose contributors share precisely the English-studies background that is regarded with such suspicion by recent theories of adaptation, have in the current, presumably more enlightened, climate of the field? Instead of seeking to establish once and for all the textual relations between particular films and their Victorian sources—in particular, the films’ success in using medium-specific devices to convey the same effects as the sources’ verbal, lexical, and literary devices—they seek to provoke, develop, extend, and resolve more general questions about adaptation, intertextuality, and the continued fascination with the cultural capital that is offered by nineteenth-century English literature and literary culture.