The trials and tribulations of adapting a novel for the small screen on the example of Sarah Waters' "Tipping the Velvet"


Term Paper, 2019

19 Pages, Grade: 1,0

Marie Will (Author)


Abstract or Introduction

In order to make their product appealing to as many viewers as possible, filmmakers often change elements in the source material they are adapting. With "Tipping the Velvet", two particular scenes from the novel were modified so that a larger audience could be reached. In this paper, I aim to show what changes were made in the TV adaptation of Waters’ novel and how these changes affected the target audience.

When asked to imagine the Victorian era, most people immediately think about upper-class, uptight ladies and gents in uncomfortable clothing, who’s general repressiveness forbade them to talk about anything personal, much less romantic or even sexual. In fact, when looking up “prude” in the Thesaurus, the first word that is listed under synonyms is “Victorian” (cf. “Prude”). Sarah Waters’ novel "Tipping the Velvet" about a young woman from the countryside who falls in love with a male impersonator, moves to London with her and goes on to search for her sexual and gender identity does not seem to fit this picture. However, when looking more closely, the Victorian era was not as prudish as we like to think. At only 32, Waters, with her first publication, “revolutionised gay literature” by creating a narrative that “imagine[d] a Victorian lesbian history through the sexual adventures of cross-dressing” (Allfree). This was something entirely new for the wide readership. Although a fair share of fictional as well as non-fictional work on Victorian sexualities had been published during the 20th century, and there even existed contemporary Victorian writing on this topic – as Waters points out in the afterword of the 20th anniversary edition (cf. Waters 474) – none of these works had gained such a wide recognition by literary critics as well as the public.Following its huge success, Waters’ novel was quickly adapted for the small screen. The 2002 BBC adaptation of Tipping the Velvet mostly follows the plot as it was constructed by Waters with only small differences. A simple – yet not entirely wrong – answer to the question of why the TV series was watched by so many people would be accessibility. But is that really the only reason why the TV program reached so many more people compared to the already widely read and highly acclaimed novel?

Details

Title
The trials and tribulations of adapting a novel for the small screen on the example of Sarah Waters' "Tipping the Velvet"
College
University of Potsdam  (Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik)
Course
Neo-Victorianism
Grade
1,0
Author
Year
2019
Pages
19
Catalog Number
V1369017
ISBN (eBook)
9783346899217
ISBN (Book)
9783346899224
Language
English
Keywords
Neo-Victorianism, Victorianism, Neovictorianism, Comparative Literature Theory, Film Theory, Literary Criticism, Sarah Waters, Tipping the Velvet, Book to Screen Adaptation, Book Adaptation, Target Audience, Adaptation Studies, Cross-dressing, LGBT+ Fiction, LGBT+ Novels, LGBT+ Characters, Lesbian Characters, Coming of age novel, Coming of age narrative, Victorian Era, Victorian Fiction, Historical Fiction, 19th century literature, Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, Questioning Identity, Michael Foucault, The History of Sexuality, BBC, Vesta Tilley
Quote paper
Marie Will (Author), 2019, The trials and tribulations of adapting a novel for the small screen on the example of Sarah Waters' "Tipping the Velvet", Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1369017

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