On Truth and Falsity in their Intertextual Sense: Adaptation as Dissimulation

Nico Dicecco


While critics have rejected fidelity as a ground for the analysis of adaptations since the seminal work of George Bluestone in 1957, the logic of source-faithfulness nonetheless persists in popular discourse. This essay considers the persistence of fidelity idealism by positing its basic assumptions as a necessary component for the interpretation of adaptations as such. It argues that fidelity discourse depends on the fallacious assumption that, at some level, an adaptation can replicate elements of a source text in a new medium. By shifting focus from the ostensibly inherent features of the adaptive text to the perceptions of the reader or viewer, it can be seen that adaptation is a class of metaphor, depending on what Nietzsche calls “equating the unequal.” Thus adaptation is paradoxical; it is necessarily different from its source text, but must be understood as partially replicating that source in order to be meaningful as an adaptation.

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