'Grisly Skeletons and Happy Endings: The Adaptation of Joseph Conrad's Fiction'

Richard Hand

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Joseph Conrad is an interesting case study in adaptation permitting an investigation of aspects of form, process and context as much as theme, narrative and characterization. The Conrad case provides a compelling demonstration of how a writer's stories, ideas and even turns of phrase can end up having lives of their own. Conrad provides analogue and intertext, adaptation and appropriation, revisions and remixes, and something worth stealing whether by accident or design. In addition, it is remarkable that a writer with such phenomenal artistic control as Conrad should admit to being ignorant to the essence of his own work prior to the process of adaptation. Conrad's confession reveals the power of both adaptation and the inter-generic. Dramatization can play a major role in popularizing and even commercializing literary fiction but it can also be eviscerating and shocking in what it brings to the surface. Joseph Conrad is usually perceived as a creator of literary fictions which are complex in prose style, ambitious in theme and groundbreaking in narrative strategy. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that Conrad is also the creator of original and highly engaging stories. It is this aspect to Conrad that explains his perennial appeal to adapters across a range of performance media including theatre, film, television, radio, and opera.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdaptation and Cultural Appropriation: Literature, Film, and the Arts
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2012


  • joseph conrad
  • adaptation
  • performing arts
  • english literature


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