Stage and Page

Why have we not a bold and brilliant school of adapters of plays whose business it is to turn them into novels? Am I really free to bring out in three volumes my fascinating psychological romance called “Othello; or, The Mystery of the Handkerchief”? Can I bring out a yellow-backed novel called “The Pound of Flesh; a Tale of Venetian Commerce”? In such a case I am not sure that the novels would be good novels, even if I wrote them. You would find that in a steady and careful prose narrative the reader would reject as coarse and incredible exactly those “properties” which on the stage are, indeed, quite proper: the necessary “business” of the ring, the dagger, the poisoned cup, the letter – in a word, the gross material symbol which is so constantly necessary to make things clear behind the footlights. Thus in a novel about Othello we should be irritated with the accidental importance of the handkerchief; it would remind us of an idiotic detective story. Thus in a novel founded on “The Merchant of Venice” the business of the pound of flesh would seem, not as it seems in the play, merely harsh and barbaric, but openly ludicrous and unthinkable.

The Illustrated London News, 30 June 1906.

Published in: on July 4, 2007 at 11:33 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. Do you accept submissions? If so, where should we send them?

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