Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Over at the arts desk, Jasper Rees suggests they've run out of 19th century things to adapt for television, makes some interesting suggestions, and invites your views.  My view is you can't call the Gaskell mine exhausted if Mary Barton hasn't been done since 1964 (it sez over at imdb) -- though I grant it could rate as "too working class" if the litmus test is Downton Abbey.  Think of it as Cranford with poverty, prostitution, drug addiction and murder. And Chartism. Think of it as Cranford if Cranford had been written by Zola.

The History of Pendennis could be fun, too, and nobody remembers it exists except my erstwhile Victorian Lit professor and the people who proofed it for Project Gutenberg, so it will have the benefit of novelty (no pun intended) while retaining all those tight-corseted tropes we've come to know and evidently desire: long story, cast of zillions, upstairs downstairs, scrappy Victorian journos, scrappy Victorian London, advent of the bourgeois lifestyle, blah blah blah. Plus you could probably squeeze in some Bellini. What's not to like?

More as they occur but do go over and weigh in, because somebody from the BBC might be reading and those people, seriously, they need ideas.


  1. Oooh! I have probably spent too much free time plotting what I would do if I could decide on which 19th-century novels the BBC adapted next. I second the Mary Barton vote. (Would also love to see Die Wahlverwandtschaften, as long as we're dreaming.)

  2. It wouldn't surprise me if Goethe translated better into English television than into English, so I'm game.

    The danger of that kind of exposure, otoh, is that people might begin to notice just how much Goethe is in some of those Victorian doorstoppers.