“Adaptation as Arguing with the Past: The Case of Sherlock” published in Palgrave Macmillan volume

by Mark Wallace

Hear ye, hear ye. My long-gestating essay, “Adaptation as Arguing with the Past: The Case of Sherlock is now available in the volume Adaptation Considered as a Collaborative Art: Process and Practice, edited by Bernadette Cronin, Rachel MagShamhrain and Nikolai Preuschoff and published by Palgrave Macmillan. The abstract for my chapter:

This chapter considers the significance of adapting a much older source text and proposes the term transtemporal adaptation to describe the result, building on Linda Hutcheon’s analysis of transculturality in adaptations. Transtemporal adaptations are proposed as a form of “arguing with the past”, in the terms of Gillian Beer. Sherlock (2010–) is an exemplary text, one in which is inscribed the tension between Doyle’s nineteenth-century ideals and the Freudian narrative of personal development that is dominant in twenty-first-century popular culture, a tension manifest in the depiction of the detective’s (a)sexuality. The relation between adapter and source is revealed to be a collaboration marked by conflict and the mutually incompatible demands of fidelity to the source and adherence to dominant narrative formations within the adaptation’s own context.

The essay was originally written in 2014 and updated in 2016, thus incorporating analysis of Sherlock’sThe Abominable Bride” standalone episode aired on New Year’s Day 2016. However, the fourth and (thus far) final season of Sherlock came too late to be considered, though delays in the editing and publishing process of the volume means that the essay arrives long after the fourth season has aired. Nevertheless, I’m happy with the essay, and did not have much to say about the fourth season in any case. I’m also looking forward to reading the other chapters in the book when my contributor copy arrives, and am pleased to be included in an interesting and varied volume featuring work by a number of luminaries in the firmament of adaptation study.