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Victorian Vogue

British Novels on Screen

2009
Author:

Dianne F. Sadoff

Victorian Vogue

How British fiction on film arouses and allays contemporary fears about society

Ranging from cinematic images of Jane Austen’s estates to Oscar Wilde’s drawing rooms, Dianne F. Sadoff looks at popular heritage films, often featuring Hollywood stars, that have been adapted from nineteenth-century novels. Sadoff contrasts films not merely with their nineteenth-century source novels but with crucial historical moments in the twentieth century, showing their cultural use in interpreting the present, not just the past.

Dianne F. Sadoff's book promises to be the definitive work on film adaptations of nineteenth-century fiction. It is wide-ranging and strikingly intelligent, has an important thesis, and best of all, is fun to read.

Jay Clayton, author of Charles Dickens in Cyberspace

Ranging from cinematic images of Jane Austen’s estates to Oscar Wilde’s drawing rooms, Dianne F. Sadoff looks at popular heritage films, often featuring Hollywood stars, that have been adapted from nineteenth-century novels.

Victorian Vogue argues that heritage films perform different cultural functions at key historical moments in the twentieth century. According to Sadoff, they are characterized by a double historical consciousness—one that is as attentive to the concerns of the time of production as to those of the Victorian period. If James Whale’s Frankenstein and Tod Browning’s Dracula exploited post-Depression fear in the 1930s, the horror films of the 1950s used the genre to explore homosexual panic, 1970s movies elaborated the sexuality only hinted at in the thirties, and films of the 1990s indulged the pleasures of consumption.

Taking a broad view of the relationships among film, literature, and current events, Sadoff contrasts films not merely with their nineteenth-century source novels but with crucial historical moments in the twentieth century, showing their cultural use in interpreting the present, not just the past.

Victorian Vogue

Dianne F. Sadoff is professor of English at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. She is the author of Monsters of Affection: Dickens, Brontë, and Eliot on Fatherhood (Johns Hopkins) and Sciences of the Flesh: Representing Body and Subject in Psychoanalysis (Stanford, 1998). She coedited Victorian Afterlife: Postmodern Culture Rewrites the Nineteenth Century (Minnesota, 2000).

Victorian Vogue

Dianne F. Sadoff's book promises to be the definitive work on film adaptations of nineteenth-century fiction. It is wide-ranging and strikingly intelligent, has an important thesis, and best of all, is fun to read.

Jay Clayton, author of Charles Dickens in Cyberspace

Sadoff clearly has her chops in literature, film and postmodern theory.

Times Higher Education

A useful resource for those interested in film adaptation.

Choice

The book is a feast of ideas and information.

Victorian Studies

Victorian Vogue

UMP blog: Zombies. Sea monsters. A Fight Club. What the Dickens would Jane Austen say?

The arrival on the publishing scene of titles such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Jane Slayer may well have given Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë fans the creeps. Indeed, the proliferation of remediations, updates, and repurposings of Austen, the Brontës, and Charles Dickens, among others, means that franchising has reached into the canon in a way that readers of literary classics could never have expected. It’s a perfect time for adult culture consumers to start complaining about how bad these spin-offs and generic mash-ups are, even the ones we don’t yet know are in the pipeline.

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