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The Art of Adapting Victorian Literature, 1848-1920The Art of Adapting Victorian Literature 1848-1920 explores the dramatization of three milestones of Victorian literature which can be representative of three of the household names of the literature of the period: Charlotte Brontë with Jane Eyre, Charles Dickens with David Copperfield and Wilkie Collins with The Woman in White. Of course our review will focus on the Jane Eyre part of the book but not forgetting that Karin A. Laird's approach shares a common agenda both in the vindication of the long forgotten values of the adaptations as a genre and the adapter as a professional as well as the inclusion of the silent early movies adaptations not only as a side note to the Victorian melodramatic theatre adaptations but as a continuing epilogue and its unavoidable coda.
Dramatizing Jane Eyre, David Copperfield, and The Woman in White
Karen E. Laird
Illustrations: Includes 19 b&w illustrations
Published: August 2015
only 14% of the 10,919 silent films released by major studios exist in their original 35mm or other format, according to the report, “The Survival of American Silent Feature Films: 1912-1929.” Another 11% survive in full-length foreign versions or on film formats of lesser image quality. (Variety)(2) Some of them were included in the Patsy Stoneman book: Charlotte Birch-Pfeiffer's 1870 Jane Eyre, or The orphan of Lowood, James Willing's 1878 Jane Eyre or T.H. Paul's 1879 Jane Eyre. It's a real pity as these adaptations (as was already pointed out by Stoneman) introduced complementary and contemporary readings of the novel. Once again, we have to regret the absence of any non English adaptation of the novel. It can be argued, of course, that this book only explores the English-spoken versions but the the discussion of the Italian film Le Memorie di una Istitutrice (1917) opens the path to an unexplored and we think fascinating path.