The Art of Adaptation

Adaptation fever is a common “disease” amongst the arts. It seems like every time you turn around you see a new adaptation. But I mean, who doesn’t love The Lord of the Rings movies?Adaptations are common, and why not? We love the stories they tell for the most part, but then again, when adaptors take something we love and don’t do it justice when they re-work it, fans cry outrage.

There are good adaptations, and different doesn’t always mean worse. What makes good literature doesn’t necessarily make a good T.V. show, but they still can share the plot and overarching themes for the most part. Sometimes it’s best to mentally let the source and its adaptation exist separately. While T.V. writers and other adaptors have to keep in mind what works with their medium and what will get the most viewers, authors are primarily limited by their imaginations. After all, show biz is called business for a reason. Different mediums have different constraints, but they also offer unique perspectives.

Adaptations can be highly valued art. Just because it is inspired directly by something else doesn’t necessarily mean that it is worth less than the original. Originality isn’t actually what we value in artwork. Mark Twain, a master of “originality” himself believed that “All ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources”. What then do we value in artwork? Edith Wharton would say:

“True originality consists not in a new manner, but in a new vision.”

And if vision is what we truly put our stock in, then adaptations take on a new value.

Adaptations certainly aren’t a phenomenon unique to television and movies. There are lots of interesting and valuable adaptations out there! This blog is here to point out some pretty cool adaptations, but by no means all of them, and maybe connect art you never thought to. Art inspires more art often in different forms, art begets art, if you will.


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