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Radio and the space of adaptation: Diana Griffiths's 'Madame Bovary' (Radio 4, 2006)

Griffiths, Kate 2014. Radio and the space of adaptation: Diana Griffiths's 'Madame Bovary' (Radio 4, 2006). Dix-Neuf 18 (2) , pp. 211-223. 10.1179/1478731814Z.00000000054

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While adaptations of Flaubert for television and cinema have triggered critical comment, those in radio have passed unnoticed. However, Diana Griffiths's 2006 adaptation of Madame Bovary for Radio 4 makes clear the natural affinity between radio and this novel. The intimacy of radio is pronounced. It creates its pictures in the confines of its listener's skull, allowing, with an ease theatre, television, and cinema do not have, unfettered, seemingly natural access to the thoughts and inner monologues of its characters. It is thus perfectly placed to reproduce the intimacy of Flaubert's novel and its relentless dissection of the hidden recesses of its heroine's desires, dreams, and dissatisfactions. Griffiths's adaptation also reproduces the intimacy of Flaubert's style indirect libre as John Hurt's numerous voiceovers filter themselves through the consciousness of Griffiths's characters, adopting their vocabulary and stance on life. Moreover, adapting the endlessly shifting spaces of Flaubert's novel, Griffiths translates nineteenth century Normandy into the space of modern British radio. In so doing she pushes her audience to consider the question of national space in the adaptive process, a space all too often overlooked by adaptation theorists but which may usefully be read using the insights of translation theorists such as Antoine Berman. Griffiths's piece, though, not only explores the interior space of characters' minds and probes the exterior spaces their bodies inhabit, so too, like Flaubert, does it consider the space of its own artistry. Griffiths's adaptation points to the aspects of the Flaubertian text which it cannot adapt, giving a paradoxical place to that which is no longer there. As Emma is unable to access the ontology of either her being or her desires as a result of the obfuscating and endless veils of texts from which she has adapted them, so Griffiths's adaptation plays with its inability to access Flaubert's novel in any complete sense. Both novel and radio adaptation find artistic life in the reproduction of earlier sources. Playing self-reflexively on their own use of the déjà connu, both works ask their audience to recognize in their adaptive fictions the earlier sources which bring creative life but which can never fully be grasped.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Modern Languages
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages
P Language and Literature > PC Romance languages
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1478-7318
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2020 13:30

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