and the intellectual, then Victorian novels are the other against which the adaptation industry has chosen to define itself.
A leading interest shared by the contributors to the present volume is expanding both the canon and the image of Victorian fiction. They extend the field by redefining the Victorian novel as including bourgeois realist English novels of the long nineteenth century, from Jane Austen and Sir Walter Scott to Joseph Conrad.
The contrasting earlier histories of Austen and Scott in adaptation studies are especially instructive. Even though Scott’s works, which are as weighty as any shelf of Victorian novels, have been filmed at least sixty-three times, he has never been claimed by Victorianists and continues to be neglected by adaptation scholars. Janet Sorenson’s essay on Michael Caton-Jones’s 1995 film adaptation of Rob Roy tellingly situates it within a context of eighteenth-century costume adaptations, whose emphasis on sumptuous surfaces it “confronts” in order “to reinscribe the eighteenth century within a narrative of British national heritage” (197). Just as Scott’s choice of historical subjects for his romances seems to place him outside the mainstream of nineteenth-century English fiction, Sorenson places the 1995 film adaptation of Rob Roy in dialogue with “the ‘long’ eighteenth century” (192), not the long Victorian period.
Austen has been treated quite differently. The signs of her relations to her Victorian cousins, from the outrage with which Austen scholars continue to greet MGM’s Victorian-flavored Pride and Prejudice (1940) to the bloodthirsty rivalry between Austen and Charlotte Brontë in Michael Thomas Ford’s contemporary vampire farce Jane Bites Back, would seem to suggest opposition rather than assimilation. But even though she shares with Scott a great, proto-Victorian subject, the rise of the English bourgeoisie, Austen’s emphasis on modern manners, language, and social pressures has made her seem at once more prophetically modern—it is hard to imagine the Walter Scott equivalent of Clueless—and more congenial to the kind of analysis that was developed in response to the Victorians. Thus, it is eminently logical that the present volume includes two chapters on Austen adaptations