Adaptations, Culture-texts and the literary canon

On the making of nineteenth-century ‘classics’

Authored by: Lissette Lopez Szwydky

The Routledge Companion To Adaptation

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138915404
eBook ISBN: 9781315690254
Adobe ISBN:


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When Sir Walter Scott died in 1832, he was the most famous novelist of the day and continued to be popular as long as his works were dramatized, appropriated, and inscribed into cultural memory (Rigney 2012). By comparison, Jane Austen achieved high critical acclaim but limited popular celebrity in the nineteenth century; to date she is the most famous nineteenth-century novelist lacking a record of theatrical adaptations staged during her lifetime (Bolton 2000). The picture is the complete opposite today, where Austen’s cultural visibility has eclipsed Scott’s in mass culture. Each author’s cultural influence hinges on the proliferation of adaptations in a particular historical moment. Scott dominated in the Romantic period, when “the ‘Author of Waverley’ sold more novels than all the other novelists of the time put together” (St. Clair 2004: 221). Austen perseveres today, where her heroines have regularly inspired new iterations for television, film, and multimedia since the turn of the twentieth century—most recently exemplified in the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies series that includes a mash-up novel (2009), a graphic novel (2010), and an action film (2016) (Looser: 2017).

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