‘Dispossession’: uses of encumbrance and constraint in visualising Trollope’s style, in a new graphic adaptation of his 1878-79 novel ‘John Caldigate'.
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractThis paper will discuss my adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s John Caldigate (1878-79) as a new graphic novel, Dispossession and its French edition Courir deux lièvres. Trollope’s writing style formalises his approach to plot, succinctly tying style to genre. In the plot of John Caldigate, the narrator both consistently avoids making definitive statements about events and character traits and avoids presenting a definitive opinion. Although Trollope eschews visual description, the continual, rhythmic presentation of one opinion after another brings about a distinctive and relatively complex spaciotopia, in which the reader feels positioned relative to the diegesis. In retinoscopic terms, this could be described simply as a spaciotopia produced by continually repeating a limited number of changes in point of view. From an analysis of Trollope’s writing style emerges the question of style in the drawn adaptation, answers to which finalise the governing constraints of its drawing style: how does Dispossession employ and/or depict equivocation in the style of its facture, distinct from the depiction of the plot? More simply, the changes made to Trollope’s plot in the adaptation emerged according to principles extrapolated from the habits of contemporary readers. The paper will explore how important plot elements or absences, significant for Trollope’s readers in the 1870s, required alteration or transformation, in order to maintain or heighten the meaning of the plot for 21st century readers: the elision of characters, changes to names, the legal process of restitution after miscarriages of justice, the significance of a straw hat and, most visibly, the presentation of new aboriginal Australian characters and the use of the Wiradjuri language. Citing both positive and critical media reviews of Courir deux lièvres from earlier this year, the paper will finally suggest that these approaches to word/image adaptation in the context of markets for graphic novels in English and French negotiate existing terrain for understanding Trollope, by bringing new habits of reading to an experience of his work and to ideas of the nineteenth century.
CitationGrennan, S. (2015). Dispossession: Uses of encumbrance and constraint in visualising Trollope’s style, in a new graphic adaptation of his 1878-79 novel ‘John Caldigate’. Paper presented at Trollope Bicentennial Conference, KU Leuven, Belgium.
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