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2022 | Book

Adapting Spanish Classics for the New Millennium

The Nineteenth-Century Novel Remediated

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About this book

The twenty-first-century's turn away from fidelity-based adaptations toward more innovative approaches has allowed adapters from Spain, Argentina, and the United States to draw upon Spain's rich body of nineteenth-century classics to address contemporary concerns about gender, sexuality, race, class, disability, celebrity, immigration, identity, social justice, and domestic violence. This book provides a snapshot of visual adaptations in the first two decades of the new millennium, examining how novelistic material from the past has been remediated for today's viewers through film, television, theater, opera, and the graphic novel. Its theoretical approach refines the binary view of adapters as either honoring or opposing their source texts by positing three types of adaptation strategies: salvaging (which preserves old stories by giving them renewed life for modern audiences), utilizing (which draws upon a pre-existing text for an alternative purpose, building upon the story and creating a shift in emphasis without devaluing the source material), and appropriation (which involves a critique of the source text, often with an attempt to dismantle its authority). Special attention is given to how adapters address audiences that are familiar with the source novels, and those that are not. This examination of the vibrant afterlife of classic literature will be of interest to scholars and educators in the fields of adaptation, media, Spanish literature, cultural studies, performance, and the graphic arts.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter
Introduction
Abstract
This book breaks new ground by examining twenty-first-century adaptations of nineteenth-century Spanish classics in a variety of media (theater, television, film, opera, and the graphic novel) with a focus on the process of interpretation, creation, and reception that is unique to each. Placing Linda Hutcheon’s A Theory of Adaptation at its theoretical core, it deals with fifteen adaptations that innovatively rework novels by Galdós, Pardo Bazán, Alas, Valera, and Blasco Ibáñez to address issues of interest today. Willem introduces a mid-category between salvagers and appropriators to account for utilizers who adapt a preexisting text for an alternative purpose, building upon the story and creating a shift in emphasis without the goal of either saving or devaluing the source material. Also emphasized is the difference between the knowing audience that is familiar with the source text and the unknowing audience who is not. A detailed summary of each chapter is included.
Linda M. Willem
Retelling Alas’s La Regenta
Abstract
This chapter deals with two updated versions of Leopoldo Alas’s La Regenta about an elderly judge’s beautiful young wife, her adulterous affair, and the rivalry between her priest and her lover. Marina Bollaín’s theatrical adaptation salvages Alas’s critique of the hypocrisy, cruelty, jealousy, and selfishness of nineteenth-century Spanish society by recontextualizing it within a tabloid television exposé show, allowing her to examine the role of visual media, gossip, celebrity, and melodrama in today’s world, and how the line between the private and the public is becoming blurred through modern technology. In contrast, Gonzalo Suárez’s film, Oviedo Express, appropriates Alas’s plot and characters by intertwining them within additional source material by Zweig, Priestley, Méndez-Leite, and Rossellini to invert the novel’s outcomes, thereby rewriting this masterpiece of Spanish Realism according to Suarez’s own anti-realist literary genre of acción-ficción and exposing the lie of mimetic realism upon which the novel was founded.
Linda M. Willem
Revisualizing Galdós’s Marianela
Abstract
This chapter focuses on three adaptations of Galdós’s Marianela about an impoverished and disfigured young woman who is abandoned by the blind man she loves when he regains his sight. In his graphic novel Nela, Rayco Pulido salvages Galdós’s story and structure, depicting its theme of internal vs. external beauty through the characters’ non-literal facial drawings that convey the experience of stigmatizing disability. The theatrical adaptations utilize Galdós’s characters to express Otherness. In Los ojos [The eyes], Argentine playwright Pablo Messiez examines the marginalized position of immigrants within Spain, raising issues of nationality and social vs. personal identity. In his English-language Marianela, American playwright Mark-Brian Sonna explores issues of race through his African-American eponymous protagonist living in the segregated south of the United States in the 1920s. Also discussed is how Galdós’s novel subverts the ableist representations of disability typically found in mainstream culture while the modern adaptations do not.
Linda M. Willem
Reconfiguring Blasco Ibáñez’s Arroz y Tartana and Flor de Mayo
Abstract
José Antonio Escrivá’s televised adaptations utilize two novels by Vicente Blasco Ibánez: Arroz y tartana about the financial ruin of a prominent middle-class family; and Flor de Mayo about personal rivalries within a family of poor fisherfolk. Both adaptations carefully recreate the settings and plotlines of the novels but radically alter their endings to make Blasco’s social commentary more palatable to modern-day audiences. By changing which characters eventually live or die, Escrivá provides a hopeful rather than punitive outcome to Arroz y tartana and shifts the tone of Flor de mayo from Naturalism to Melodrama. Both adaptations are highly televisual, emphasizing the performativity of what the viewer sees and hears by overtly manipulating images and employing musical leitmotifs to communicate information non-verbally. Viewing pleasure is also increased through the star power of Carmen Maura in Arroz y tartana and a surprise tableau of a Sorolla painting in Flor de mayo.
Linda M. Willem
Remixing Galdós’s Realidad, Doña Perfecta, and Tormento
Abstract
Fernando Méndez-Leite’s stage play, Galdosiana, provides a revitalized experience of Galdós’s novelistic world by salvaging scenes from three novels: Realidad about a wife’s adulterous affair; Doña Perfecta about a liberal man from Madrid who travels to the rural estate of his conservative aunt to marry her daughter; and Tormento about a young woman who conceals her lost virginity from her fiancé. Its twenty-first-century female narrator interacts not only with Galdós’s nineteenth-century characters on stage, but also with the real members of the audience watching the performance, placing sexual norms, social values, and melodramatic aesthetics of the past in dialog with attitudes of today. Theatrical performance as a visual, corporeal, spatial, and temporal medium is continuously foregrounded in contrast to the novelistic origins of the characters being viewed. The distinction between "knowing" and "unknowing" audiences is complicated by the individual viewer’s degree of familiarity with each of the novels being adapted.
Linda M. Willem
Reimagining Valera’s Pepita Jiménez and Galdós’s Fortunata y Jacinta
Abstract
This chapter examines two theatrically staged musical adaptations. For his controversial Argentine–Spanish co-production of Albéniz’s opera based on Juan Valera’s Pepita Jiménez about a seminarian who falls in love with a young widow, Calixto Bieito reconstructs the English language libretto and score, but appropriates Valera’s characterizations and setting to critique the repressive alliance between the Catholic Church and Spain’s Franco dictatorship. The words being sung conflict with the actions being performed, linking the characters to films by Picazo and Buñuel. In contrast, the music and lyrics of hip-hop, rap, and reguetón throughout Laila Ripoll’s Fortunata y Benito draw parallels between the reality of today’s urban youth and the lives of Galdós’s characters in Fortunata y Jacinta. Salvaging and revitalizing both the novel and its author’s image, Ripoll depicts a young Galdós accompanying a twenty-first-century student through his story about two women of different social classes who love the same man.
Linda M. Willem
Retracing Galdós’s Tristana and Pardo Bazán’s Insolación
Abstract
This chapter focuses on three salvaged adaptations: Eduardo Galán and Alberto Castrillo-Ferrer’s Tristana stage play about Galdós’s orphaned young woman who is seduced by her older guardian; Pedro Víllora and Luis Luque’s Insolación [Sunstroke] stage play about Pardo Bazán’s aristocratic young widow who is sexually attracted to a handsome womanizer; and Antonio Becerra Bolaños and Alberto Hernández Rivero’s 1892 graphic novel which incorporates scenes from Galdós’ life and his La loca de la casa [Madwoman of the House] (about a nun who marries to save her family from financial ruin) into an abbreviated version of the Tristana novel. Conventions of theater (sets, lighting, costumes, music, and actor’s movements) and sequential art (paneling, page layouts, and color) present the lived experiences of these female protagonists as they battle—successfully or unsuccessfully—against the gender-based laws and norms that limit their lives, and in some cases, subject them to coercive control and domestic violence.
Linda M. Willem
Reworking Galdós’s Tristana and Pardo Bazán’s Pazos de Ulloa
Abstract
This chapter deals with two adaptations by playwright Irma Correa, who utilizes Galdos’s Tristana and Pardo Bazán’s Los Pazos de Ulloa [The House of Ulloa] to explore Spain’s ongoing legacy of gender-based violence. In Ana, también a nosotros nos llevará el olvido [Ana, oblivion will also carry us away] Galdós’s romantic triangle now consists of the protagonist, her abusive husband, and her lesbian lover, with the action reset within the Franco dictatorship of Spain’s 1960s. In Ulloa, the naturalistic influences exerted on Pardo Bazán’s characters in rural Galicia take place within the equally brutal environment of a modern-day rave during a turf war between rival urban gangs. The innovative stagings by Mario Vega (for Ana) and José Luis Arellano García (for Ulloa) combine music (both popular and operatic) with striking projected images to aid Correa in addressing issues of marital rape, suicide, legalized inequalities, and intergenerational domestic violence.
Linda M. Willem
Conclusion
Abstract
This chapter discusses how the adapters in this volume have participated in the never-ending afterlife of nineteenth-century classic novels, creating innovative adaptations through strategic infidelities that unleashed the potential within each source text to extend beyond itself and its era to reach ever-expanding audiences. Whether preserved by salvagers, augmented by utilizers, or challenged by appropriators, these novels have given rise to adaptations that cross aesthetic boundaries and provide additional perspectives on the multiple cultural worlds (historical, political, legal, religious, social, artistic, musical, and literary) they depict and inhabit. This chapter also looks to the future of Spanish classic-novel adaptations within the greater global context of newly created forms of media, their availability to the general public, and the fan-based content that they are generating.
Linda M. Willem
Backmatter
Metadata
Title
Adapting Spanish Classics for the New Millennium
Author
Linda M. Willem
Copyright Year
2022
Electronic ISBN
978-3-031-04815-9
Print ISBN
978-3-031-04814-2
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-04815-9