Narrative Strategies and Their Cinematic Adaptation in Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient (1992) and Ian McEwan’s Atonement (2001): A Semiotic Study

Shalaby, Manal 


Both the adapted screenplay and the literary work on which it is built are con-texts in a mutual relationship of giving and receiving, forming and redefining one another. Thus, literature-to-film adaptation is rather perceived as an intertextual practice, contributing to a dynamic interpretive exchange between the literary and cinematic texts – an exchange in which each text can be enriched, modified or subverted. However, adapting a work of art from one medium to another is not an arbitrary task because the adapter must thoroughly understand the idiosyncratic properties of each medium, i.e. the film adapter is to be aware of the inevitable journey that the film has to make from one narrative and semiotic system to another. The thesis examines two typical postmodern novels that have been successfully adapted to the screen and gained considerable praise despite their uncinematic nature. The first novel is Michael Ondaatje’s critically acclaimed masterpiece The English Patient (1992) and the second is Ian McEwan’s Booker Prize-shortlisted novel Atonement (2001). Both novels derive their importance from their technical/narrative complexity, heavy reliance on history and memory and the crucial role they play in forming one’s identity. The study aims at analyzing both novels and their adaptations in order to probe into the relation between the original and the adapted texts, to pinpoint the different narrative strategies followed in each adaptation and how they affect the end product, and to refute fidelity as a criterion for judging an adaptation.

Other data

Keywords literary adaptation, fidelity, Ondaatje, McEwan
Issue Date 2013
Publisher Ain Shams University
Description MA Thesis

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