The Unfilmable Book and the First Person Narrator

On narrators in film adaptations:

“With the release of the new movie version of The Great Gatsby (I haven’t seen it yet), the subject of book versus movie rears its ugly head yet again. ”

via – The Unfilmable Book and the First Person Narrator.

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About Kevin L. Ferguson

Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing at Queens
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2 Responses to The Unfilmable Book and the First Person Narrator

  1. Do you remember that episode of Seinfeld where George has to read that book on risk management for his job but is too lazy to? Instead of reading the book, he gets it on tape, but then he can’t listen to it because the voice on the tape sounds too much like his own. Perhaps that illustrates part of the problem.
    People sometimes speak of hearing a voice in their head while they read (this doesn’t happen to me when I read prose but does when I read poetry). No matter who the narrator is–Ismael, Holden Caulfield, Alex DeLarge–it is still the voice of the reader him/herself sounding in his/her head while reading. When the story is adapted to film, an actor’s voice is heard instead of the readerly voice. One might argue that this could give the audience a new perspective on a character: “I didn’t picture Forrest Gump sounding like that when I read the novel, but it really changes the way I think about him.”
    There is an aversion to film that is so deeply rooted in some of us (Stam comes to mind here) that one has to wonder if we even realize it’s there or if it operates on more of an unconscious level.

    • I think Stam would agree that it is quite often unconscious–that’s how deep our “prejudices” are (in fact might be a defining feature of prejudices–that they hide from us).

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