Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Review of A Theory of Adaptation by Linda Hutcheon

A Theory of AdaptationAre we living in the age of adaptation? In contemporary cinema, of course, there are enough adaptations --based on everything from comic books to the novels of Jane Austen--to make us wonder if Hollywood has run out of new stories. But if you think adaptation can be understood by using novels and films alone, you're wrong. Today there are also song covers rising up the pop charts, video game versions of fairy tales, and even roller coasters based on successful movie franchises. Despite their popularity, however, adaptations are usually treated as secondary and derivative. Whether in the form of a Broadway musical or a hit television show, adaptations are almost inevitably regarded as inferior to the "original." But are they? Here, renowned literary scholar Linda Hutcheon explores the ubiquity of adaptations in all their various media incarnations--and challenges their constant critical denigration. Adaptation, Hutcheon argues, has always been a central mode of the story--telling imagination and deserves to be studied in all its breadth and range as both a process (of creation and reception) and a product unto its own. Persuasive and illuminating, A Theory of Adaptation is a bold rethinking of how adaptation works across all media and genres that may put an end to the age--old question of whether the book was better than the movie, or the opera, or the theme park.
I originally read this book for a film class which I took and I have mentioned it in my Adaptation Corner Post about Pride and Prejudice films, so I decided to share my thoughts on it with you. This is a non-fiction, academic book which will tells you the basics of adaptations. I think it's good for learning about them on a basic level. I say basic because I think this is a good starting point for those just beginning to delve into this realm of academia.

This is a bit of a slow read because there is so much terminology and it can be challenging to absorb every concept that the author introduces. She expresses her ideas with clarity, but because she packs in so much great content I found myself some times setting down the book so I could absorb what I'd just read. She makes the non-fiction subject matter much more accessible by using references that many of her readers would understand. When it came time to write my first paper for my film class, this proved to be a very useful source.

While it's not a page turner, A Theory of Adaptation gives its reader plenty to think about. On the whole, this is a very academic book but it's also good if you have any desire to learn more about adaptations.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.


  1. Used it as my theoretical framework for my senior thesis. Great layout, easy to understand, and presents a vast knowledge of the histories behind adaptation!

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  2. It is comprehensive overview of the Theory of Adaptation. It is easy to understand the concept well.

  3. It is comprehensive overview of the Theory of Adaptation. It is easy to understand the concept well.



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