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regard to tradition or propriety. This disregard makes Cunard a rare and compelling figure through which to trace the complicated lines of moder­ nity. By recognizing Cunard’s vexed subject position as a productive area of study, Moynagh has opened up the dialogue and made an important contribution to current scholarship. Holly McSpadden Missouri Southern State University John Galvin, ed. Dickens on Screen. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003. Pp. 223. $63.00 hardcover; $24.00 paper. Dickens on Screen is part of a series produced by Cambridge University Press focusing on cinematic adaptations of the works of various classical authors. Jane Austen on Screen and Eighteenth-Century Fiction on Screen are already in print; A History ofShakespeare on Screen is forthcoming. (It is curious that Austen’s first name is included in the title, whereas Dickens and Shakespeare can get by on surname recognition alone.) Each of the volumes in this series consists of a collection of essays by specialists in the fields of both literature and film solicited and arranged by the respec­ tive editors. In Dickens on Screen, editor John Glavin divides his collection of short pieces into four parts: a roundtable discussion among film critics, literary critics and psychotherapists, a selection of short essays by literary critics who explore the connections between novels and film, a short third section featuring essays and interviews by and with those who have been actively involved in turning Dickens’s novels into films— a screenwriter, a director, an actor, and finally, a concluding selection of essays on film criticism and history that attempt to place Dickensian films within the larger context of twentieth-century cinematography. Unfortunately, given the quality and expertise of the contributors here, many of whom are well-known names in the field of Dickens studies, the volume as a whole is a disappointment, promising more than it delivers. In fact the title Dickens on Screen is something of a misnomer: only six of the seventeen short pieces in this collection deal directly with adapta­ tions of Dickens novels or stories into movies or television. The rest either circle around the topic, or deal with it tangentially. For instance, John Bowen’s essay on eroticism in David Copperfield provides a stimulating Book Reviews | 215 analysis of the novel, but Bowen’s finest observations refer exclusively to Dickens’s text. Only the title— “David Copperfield’s Home Movies”— and the last two pages of the essay make any reference to Dickens on screen. There are essays, however, that circle the topic of Dickens and film quite entertainingly; for instance, Marguerite Rippy’s essay on Orson Welles and why he failed to make a movie out of The Pickwick Papers. While this is a lively and informative piece, it tells us a great deal more about Orson Welles than it does about Dickens. Given the fact that Welles’s version of The Pickwick Papers never got made, it seems somewhat out of place in a collection entitled Dickens on Screen. O f this volume’s four sections, I found the roundtable discussion at the beginning to be the most easily expendable. It expects readers to be familiar with David Lean’s version of Oliver Twist, and, like most discus­ sions, it rambles off in several different directions and lacks a clear focus. This brings me to my other problem with Dickens on Screen, namely, lack of focus. It is not at all clear for whom this book was intended. Since so few of the pieces actually deal with Dickens on screen, serious students of film are likely to be disappointed. Only Garrett Stewart’s “Dickens, Eisenstein, Film” will offer them much to chew on, and then only if they can decipher the often-convoluted prose. Similarly, serious students of Dickens are just as likely to be disappointed, because, with some exceptions that I will discuss in a moment, few of the short essays in this collection have much to say about dramatizing or adapting Dickens’s work for the screen. Even the stronger essays seem to have wandered into the wrong book. A case in point is Robert Polhemus’s “Screen Memories in Dickens and Woody Allen.” This is a fascinating meditation...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1913-4835
Print ISSN
0317-0802
Pages
pp. 215-218
Launched on MUSE
2019-04-03
Open Access
No
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