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Books[]

A Breath of Fresh Eyre: Intertextual and Intermedial Reworkings of Jane Eyre. Eds. Margarete Rubik and EIke Mettinger-Schartmann. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007. Print.[]

Rubik and Mettinger-Schartmann acknowledge the fascination and the remarkable extent of creative adaptation Jane Eyre has inspired since its publication with their compilation of articles on various adaptations of Jane Eyre. The collection is an attempt to comprehensively account for the variety of mediums the text has been adapted to, with articles categorized by their examination of narrative, visual, and stage adaptations, all across a range of time and genre. The collection also includes an adaptor's own perspective on the adaptation process as its epilogue. Rubik and Mettinger-Schartmann’s overall premise is that a dense intertextual web is created as new adaptations refer to and revise preceding adaptations while also being informed by Brontë scholarship. Since this volume was published after Patsy Stoneman’s crucial 1996 work, Brontë Transformations, and focuses specifically on Jane Eyre, the editors are able to include information on more recent adaptations in addition to studies of older rewritings. However, as with any anthology, the editors demonstrate some element of decision in which texts they choose to include, as the volume features twelve contributions on “novel adaptations” but only six each on “film and other pictorial media” and “stage adaptations”; moreover, it has been noted that “the present volume does not have the cohesion (impossible for obvious reasons) neither the completeness of Stoneman's book” (Brontë Blog). Nevertheless, Rubik and Mettinger-Schartmann’s book is a useful and relatively compact volume featuring an assortment of scholarship on a sampling of Jane Eyre adaptations.

Patsy Stoneman. Brontë Transformations: The Cultural Dissemination of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. Hemel Hempstead: Prentice Hall/Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1996. Print.[]

Stoneman considers the ways in which Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre have been passed into culture via various methods of adaptation. The work embraces and explores the concept of intertextuality as related to the adaptation of both novels since the texts’ first publications. Stoneman’s professed purpose in writing this work is to “bring to the foreground the specifically textual effects of various” adaptations as well as to focus on the process of cultural change, “to read these texts into history and to suggest how and why these changes occur” (2, 1). Moreover, her discussion of these changes is intended to focus not on materials but on meanings, and her “comparative study throws emphasis on [the adaptations’] formal differences, both of medium (novel to film or picture) and of signifying structures” like plot and style (3). Her approach is broadly organized into chapters by both chronology and by content and features elements of traditional literary criticism coupled with feminist, psychoanalytic, and deconstructive techniques; bibliographies and other resources are also included. Stoneman herself acknowledges the lack of completeness she is able to provide on the subject in Brontë Transformations, citing both the impossibility of exhaustively locating every adaptation and her reliance on “chance findings and the generous participation of… voluntary informants,” but maintains her intentions of comprehensively examining the texts’ cultural dissemination (xii). At the time of its publication, Brontë Transformations was perhaps the most comprehensive discussion of adaptations of Jane Eyre as well as Wuthering Heights and the processes by which the texts have been transmitted and transformed, and the book remains a valuable resource today. 

Patsy Stoneman. Jane Eyre on Stage, 1848–1898: An Illustrated Edition of Eight Plays with Contextual Notes. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007. Print.[]

In this book, which is part of Ashgate’s Nineteenth Century Series, Stoneman recognizes the long-standing history of theatrical adaptations of Jane Eyre and thus attempts to both “transcribe and edit the play-texts in order to preserve them and make them available; and to propose some hypotheses which might explain, in social and ideological terms, the many changes… which the playwrights made” to the original text in eight newly-located nineteenth-century theatrical adaptations (1-2). Stoneman’s method considers information including the original text of each play, the principles on which it has been edited, the playwright, the original theaters and performances, and its reception. Her approach is also characterized by its examination of the theatrical context, including social and political contexts, of the plays, reflecting her interests both in the narrative as cultural property and in the intertextuality of adaptations. As indicated by the title, Jane Eyre on Stage also includes illustrations and facsimiles relating to the discussed productions, primarily playbills, portraits of the actors and characters, and etchings inspired by scenes from the performances. Any bias present in the work is suggested in the labeling of some elements of the adaptations as “bizarre” and “outrageous”; however, further examination reveals that these plays significantly twist, add to, and delete from the now-canonical work. On the other hand, the adaptations that Stoneman is examining are, for the most part, largely unknown or forgotten. This work is, however, notable in its preservation of the original manuscripts and its extensive discussion of nineteenth century adaptations; in fact, Stoneman states that the texts of these plays have been lost in “the unvisited grave of the British Library’s Manuscript Room” for more than a century, so this book is intended to make these adaptations widely accessible and to “open up new debates… about the ways in which [Brontë’s] readers received” Jane Eyre (16). 

Articles[]

Lisa Hopkins. “Fragmenting the Gothic: Jane Eyre and Dracula.” Screening the Gothic. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005. Print.[]

Screening the Gothic has been described as a “ground-breaking study” that explores “how the Gothic has been deployed in contemporary films" (University of Texas Press). In this chapter entitled “Fragmenting the Gothic,” Hopkins indeed explores the Gothicizing techniques utilized in two film adaptations of Jane Eyre, Zeffirelli's Jane Eyre (1995) and the lTV Jane Eyre (1997), and one film adaptation of Dracula, Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 Dracula, arguing that said techniques actually subvert the Gothic elements of the original texts instead of reinforcing them. She further contends that “whereas the original novels present the Gothic as an externalized menace confined to specific physical locations, these films regard it rather as a product of the psychology of the characters and, above all, of the heroines” (88). To support her argument, Hopkins analyzes the thematic effects of aspects such as Gothic elements, plot inventions, filming techniques and coloring, and casting choices in the films, going so far as to discuss their ostensible influence from Stevenson’s 1944 adaptation of Jane Eyre and similarities to the work of Jane Austen; a similar method is employed in her discussion of Dracula. The adaptations of both works are conclusively described as “only selectively and intermittently Gothic” (105). A minimal bias is evident in Hopkins’ use of language such as “unkind commentator” to describe those who may not see the same value in the discussed adaptations (91).  This work is noteworthy for its detailed discussion of and its unique analytic perspectives on the two film adaptations of Jane Eyre in question, especially since these more recent films have probably received less scholarly attention than their predecessors.

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