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The Oxford History of the Novel in EnglishVolume 6: The American Novel 1879-1940$
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Priscilla Wald and Michael A. Elliott

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780195385342

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780195385342.001.0001

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The Novel and the Early Cinema

The Novel and the Early Cinema

(p.255) 16 The Novel and the Early Cinema
The Oxford History of the Novel in English

John Michael

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the debate over film adaptations of the American novel, including Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. More precisely, it analyzes the question of fidelity of adaptation to the original and whether the film can do justice to novels, citing the arguments of critics and theorists such as James Metcalfe, Seymour Chatman, Sergei Eisenstein, and D. W. Griffith. It discusses how adaptations of novels to film have provoked criticism, polemics, and theories. The chapter also considers the relationship between film translations and artistic vision and whether there is a fundamental incompatibility between novelistic and cinematic forms of narration. Finally, it explores the issue of whether differences in the media assure that film adaptations of novels will always be inferior to their originals.

Keywords:   film adaptations, Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, fidelity, novels, Sergei Eisenstein, D. W. Griffith, artistic vision

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