Toward an aesthetics of adaptation: From text to film in Proust and Duras

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member

David R. Ellison - Committee Chair


This study examines literary and filmic adaptations through translation and semiotic theories to establish cogent correlations between the processes of translation and adaptation. Basing itself upon Roman Jakobson's theoretical terminology, this dissertation conceptualizes adaptation as a type of translation encompassing linguistic, cultural, and systemic transfers as illustrated in the writing practices of Marcel Proust and Marguerite Duras.Although Marguerite Duras never formally associated writing to translation as Marcel Proust did in Le Temps retrouve, she and Proust honed their writing skills through the translation and adaptation of other writers' works and through the self-adaptation of their own novels, essays, and, for Duras, plays. While recycling their works, these authors evolved from a literature of description to a metaphorical writing relying on the deciphering---or translation---of signs. This type of writing serves as a basis for the formulation of connections between Proustian and Durasian aesthetic theories.The literary evolution of these writers is retraced by deconstructing the creative process at the core of their adaptational literature into various stages.Proustian adaptational techniques are evaluated through a comparative analysis of Jean Santeuil, Contre Sainte Beuve and A La Recherche du temps perdu, and then, juxtaposed to screenplays by Suso Cecchi D'Amico/Luchino Visconti and Harold Pinter, and filmic adaptations by Volker Schlondorff and Raoul Ruiz.Duras' progression toward a cinematic writing relying on the mixing of genres is illustrated through a selection of several self-adaptations of Un Barrage contre le Pacifique, which was turned successively into a play (L'Eden Cinema), a novel (L'Amant) and a novel script (L'Amant de la Chine du Nord). These works are later contrasted with Jean-Jacques Annaud's adaptation of L'Amant .Comparative analysis of Marguerite Duras's novels and films, envisioned in the light of Proustian theory through the perspectives of hermeneutics, visual culture, and reception theories, reveals striking theoretical connections between Proust and Duras, as well as Duras's extension of Proustian aesthetics to cinema.


Literature, Romance; Cinema

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