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"A Life as Potent and Dangerous as Literature Itself": Intermediated Moves from Mrs. Dalloway to The Hours
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5265-6421
2010 (English)In: Journal of Popular Culture, ISSN 0022-3840, E-ISSN 1540-5931, Vol. 43, no 3, 503-523 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The article analyses an adaptation process in two steps, from Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs Dalloway, to Michael Cunningham’s novel The Hours, to Stephen Daldry’s film The Hours. Close readings are carried out with focus on three themes: haunting, identity and failure, which all exhibit different intertextual links between the texts. The theme of haunting, of repetition, is necessarily present in both versions of The Hours, since they as postmodern intertextual works rely heavily on their predecessor as well as on the creator of this predecessor. The theme of a woman’s whole life in a day is similarly a theme repeated from Mrs. Dalloway, and the novel itself surfaces repeatedly in both Cunningham’s and Daldry’s texts, sometimes as concrete inspiration, sometimes in the form of more oblique references. The thematic affinities between the women in The Hours are also connected to the theme of haunting, this time in the way their lives reflect and influence each other. Visually, this is illustrated by linking devices: flowers, sleeping positions and relationships to partners, to mention only the opening scenes. The water imagery—born from an echo of Mrs. Dalloway’s opening chapter—comes into the theme of haunting but takes on a powerful visual significance also in relation to the theme of failure where river water comes to represent Virginia’s choices in the writing process and how these have a direct effect on Mrs. Brown. It is argued that the move from quintessentially modernist fiction to postmodern polyphony, and the fact that Woolf is one of three central characters, has required different authenticating strategies in the film adaptation. Seemingly simple match cuts establish visual links between the central characters while simultaneously separating each woman into her own clearly identifiable space and context. Media specific modes of narration, such as set design, lighting and musical themes are similarly used to achieve polyphony. Subtle intertextual elements found in the guest text are transformed into visual linking devices, ensuring that Mrs. Dalloway remains a powerful element both in symbolic and concrete form, a result indicating that the symbiotic relationship is one of mutualism.



Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Hoboken N. J.: Wiley Periodicals Inc. , 2010. Vol. 43, no 3, 503-523 p.
Keyword [en]
adaptations, film, literature, intertextuality, haunting, identity, failure, Virginia Woolf, Michael Cunningham, Stephen Daldry
National Category
Studies on Film General Literature Studies
Research subject
Literature; medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-34747DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5931.2010.00755.xISI: 000278078200005OAI: diva2:324616
Available from: 2010-06-15 Created: 2010-06-15 Last updated: 2015-10-02Bibliographically approved

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Lindgren Leavenworth, Maria
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