The art of storytelling is not a modern invention, neither is adaptation. In spite of their century-old traditions, they both are relevant and evolving. Reading the same stories over and over again would get boring pretty quickly, but transcoding them to different media such as film or video games gives them new meanings, thus keeps them interesting. Adaptation opens up new dimensions for creators and consumers of adaptations alike. However, when the same story – or an element of the story - is used in various different media, it will inevitably spark debates on which one is superior. Adaptations often get frowned upon for appropriating and exploiting their adapted texts. There are many questions and doubts surrounding adaptation, such as what can be adapted and why are certain works easier to adapt.
Linda Hutcheon’s book, A Theory of Adaptation examines these issues and attempts to theorize the process of adaptation. Using an impressive array of sources, the author aims to explore the topic of adaptation without excluding overlooked areas or more recent developments. Her methodology for this involves ”[identifying] a text-based issue that extends across a variety of media, [finding] ways to study it comparatively, and then [teasing] out the theoretical implications from multiple textual examples”.
According to the preface, the book’s aim is to challenge the notion that adaptations are merely secondary, derivative works compared to their adapted texts. Hutcheon also puts emphasis on analyzing intertextuality and confronting the negative perception of adaptations that is so common in our society. The author states that the examples provided in this book aid to help readers get more familiar with the topic and relate to the issues discussed in these chapters. Hutcheon also claims that this volume doesn’t contain extended case studies of any of the examples. Moreover, it is not supposed to be focused on a specific genre or medium. This introduction does not suggest more than the title does, but it sets high expectations towards the content.
In Chapter 1, the author discusses the relevance and role of adaptation. Nowadays, adaptation come in many different forms and genres, ranging from literature to video games, and everything in between. In spite of the increasing demand for adaptations, they still get a bad reputation for disrespecting and appropriating their adapted texts in a blasphemous manner. Out of all the genres, cinematic adaptations are criticised the most, due to a perceived hierarchy between genres. Therefore, an opera or ballet adaptation is somehow more accepted, than a film version of the same story. Hutcheon also argues that adaptation’s appeal is that it combines comforting familiarity with surprise.
By calling a work an adaptation, we acknowledge its relation to its prior text. Although adaptations can have many different intentions behind them, they certainly don’t intend to copy or remake the original. According to...