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Adaptation

Studies in French and Francophone Culture

Series:

Neil Archer and Andreea Weisl-Shaw

Originating in the conference held at the University of Cambridge in 2009, this collection of essays includes a range of innovative papers from across the diverse field of French and Francophone studies. From medieval texts to the dramatization of the novel, from postcolonial writing to the politics of film and the bande dessinée, the articles in this collection draw on recent developments in the theories of adaptation, translation, and cultural and textual transition. In keeping with these developments, they move the notion of adaptation away from questions of authenticity and fidelity, thinking instead about the movement across texts and time, and the way such movement generates new meanings. Offering insightful approaches to its subjects of study, the book is an engaging contribution to this growing area of research.

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Part 2 From Source to Stage: Adaptation in French Theatre 53

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Part 2 From Source to Stage: Adaptation in French Theatre Emilia Wilton-Godberfforde Molière’s Dom Juan: The Trickster Transformed The figure of Dom Juan and his rebellious exploits has attracted the interest of many a writer across the centuries and this enduring fascination is due, no doubt, to the potential this character has to entertain and disturb. The connotations that a ‘Dom Juan’ figure has today, that of a philanderer, who has love af fair after love af fair, has been shaped by the Dom Juan character Molière puts on the stage. Previous versions were less interested in this element of seductive inconstancy and more focused on highlighting his transgressive and irreligious behaviour. Molière’s version of the myth is most interesting for a case study of literary adaptation. Firstly, although his play is not the first French version to be shown to Parisian audiences, his version radically changes facets of the character, and these distinct dimensions met with considerable contro- versy.1 The qualities with which he endows him render him a hypocrite and a promise-breaker in a way that previous versions failed to highlight. Secondly, in choosing to adopt the comic buf foonery of the Italian versions of the play, Molière stresses the amusing quality of deception and subterfuge in a way that the preceding French writers chose to avoid. Despite the numerous works devoted to the subject of the myth of Dom Juan2 and to Molière’s specific text, very few scholars draw attention 1 The...

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