Examining the relationship between literature and cinema from the perspective of poststructuralist narrative theory, this book studies how different kinds of narratives change during adaptation and offers an alternative model for the study of narratives. It addresses issues of cinematic adaptation and asks: what changes take place in a narrative when a novel is adapted into film? Looking at the art forms of novel, theatre and film, and the evolution of narratology as a discipline, it also shows how narratological tools, used to study literary texts, are equally relevant and applicable to the study of cinematic narratives.
Films, understood as a blend of mimetic and diegetic arts, are different from fiction. Questioning the relevance of fidelity criticism, the author closely examines the bias against adaptations. Instead of judging adaptations only for their faithfulness to the original, he argues that film adaptations of literary works must be seen as independent creative works of art, and not as derivative, and hence inferior. The relationship between cinema and the literary source can be understood in terms of inter-textuality, inter-mediality and interpretation, and within the paradigm of translation.
The creative collaboration of Ismail Merchant, James Ivory and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala is a celebrated one in film history. The book focuses on Jhabvala, the novelist and screenwriter, and analyses two of her texts in fiction and film. The two novels/films under study—The Householder and Heat and Dust—were chosen to see how Jhabvala the novelist reinvents her own stories as the screenwriter to suit the needs of the new medium.
The book contributes to the study of narrative discourse in fiction and film in India, and will be useful for students and scholars of film and literary studies.
Vivek Sachdeva is Professor of English, University School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi.