Edited By Jadwiga Wegrodzka
Transtextual characters in literary adaptations: E.M. Forster’s Howards End and Zadie Smith’s On Beauty
The question of how a continuous identity is established between the initial presentation of a character and the subsequent occurrences in a given literary work constitutes an intricate issue, considering the fact that in most texts characters are presented in separate narrative sequences. Obviously, linguistic referents, mimetic markers, and characterisation play a pivotal role in sustaining a coherent identification. However, the complexity of the process increases when introduced in an intertextual context, in which characters transgress ontological borders of fictional realms and exist in more than one text. This propensity is acutely encapsulated in the concept of “transworld identity” defined broadly by Umberto Eco as characters’ “transmigration from one fictional universe to another” (Eco in Kundu 2008: 11). The term specifies the criteria of correspondence between a given fictional character and its intertextual variant: “If an entity in one world differs from its ‘prototype’ in another world only in accidental properties, not in essentials, and if there is a one-to-one correspondence between the prototype and its other-world variant, then the two entities can be considered identical even though they exist in distinct worlds” (Eco in McHale 1987: 37). The question of characters’ transmigration is also addressed by Brian Richardson who in his essay “Transtextual Characters” establishes the criteria of characters’ transportability claiming that it is the mimetic component encompassing a set of internal properties and psychological makeup which conditions transtextual compatibility between characters (2010: 539-540). Theoretically speaking, apart from foregrounding the continuity of essential...
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