Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft
The Chronotope and the Study of Literary Adaptation : The Case of Robinson Crusoe
- This paper proposes a reflection on the potential of the chronotope as a heuristic tool in the field of adaptation studies. My goal is to situate the chronotope in the context of adaptation studies, specifically with regard to perhaps the most central treatise in the field of literary adaptation, Gérard Genette’s “Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree”, and to draw attention to perhaps one of the most overlooked works in the field of adaptation studies, Caryl Emerson’s chronotope-inspired “Boris Godunov: Transpositions of a Russian Theme”. I will demonstrate how the chronotope might be used in the study of literary adaptation by examining the relationships between Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe”, its historical sources, and Michel Tournier’s twentieth-century adaptation of the Robinson story, “Friday”. My analysis draws upon three of the semantic levels of the chronotope presented in the introduction to this volume: (1) chronotopic motifs linked to two opposing themes: enthusiasm for European colonial expansionism and skepticism regarding the supremacy of European culture; (2) major chronotopes that determine the narrative structure of a text; and (3) the way in which such major chronotopes may be linked to broader questions of genre.