Zola and the Art of Television
Adaptation, Recreation, Translation

Kate Griffiths

Transcript 3


28 September 2020  •  182pp

ISBN: 978-1-781887-09-7 (hardback)  •  RRP £80, $110, €95

ISBN: 978-1-781884-02-7 (paperback, 18 January 2023  )  •  RRP £10.99, $14.99, €13.49

ISBN: 978-1-781884-03-4 (JSTOR ebook)

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Émile Zola (1840-1902) has become one of the most adapted authors of all time, but while much has been made of his adaptation into cinema and theatre, television has largely been overlooked. Yet television, with its serial structures and popular reach, is uniquely suited to the adaptation of a novelist who eagerly reworked his writing for the broadest audiences possible. It is not for nothing that broadcasters such as the BBC return to Zola so often – most recently with The Paradise (2012). In older productions, particularly, sweeping panoramas disappear, to be replaced by the boxy interior shots of studio-produced pieces heavy with dialogue. But television fulfils Zola's intention to provide, in close-up, a dissection of the characters’ entrapment as they struggle beneath the weight of their heredity, era and environment.

The passage from book to television is also the passage from a single author to a collective one, in a process which challenges many of the simple binaries which have dominated and limited key debates in the history of adaptation. Different identities commission, fund, write, direct and produce programmes which are then shown and re-shown in different contexts, forms, times and media packages. This volume brings translation theory into dialogue with adaptation studies to open new debates. It does so in relation to an author of key import to adaptation studies. Zola and the myriad television adaptations of his work ask us to reconsider the boundaries of authorship, adaptation and the artistic artefact.

Kate Griffiths is Professor of French and Translation Studies at Cardiff University.


  • ‘There is a lot of good material in Zola and the Art of Television. Its readings of Zola’s novels and short stories, especially in relation to their adaptations, are fresh, detailed, and nuanced. Electing to address television adaptations rather than film brings more attention to this more under-researched form of adaptation.’ — Jonathan Evans, Translation and Literature 30, 2021, 243-48 (full text online)
  • ‘Griffiths breaks new ground here in two ways which she explains in detail in her introduction. First, her focus on television adaptations ends what she calls the “critical silence” (p. 7) in this area by challenging viewers’ and scholars’ tendency to underappreciate both the artistry and the critical significance of televisual adaptation. Secondly, Griffiths convincingly argues that a deep understanding of creative processes and practices can be gained from treating televisual rewritings of literary texts as translations rather than (or as well as) adaptations; for her, reading these televisual texts through the lens of various translation theories opens up extremely fruitful modes of interpretation and ultimately calls for a reconsideration of what televisual art is or could be. By challenging adaptation studies’ traditional resistance to translation theory, Griffiths’s book importantly goes some way to bridging the intellectual and disciplinary divide between literary studies and media studies... As well as’ — Hannah Thompson, H-France 21.190, October 2021, 190
  • ‘Through her judiciously selected corpus, her appropriation of adaptation theory, and her ambitious but cogently articulated arguments, Griffiths’s groundbreaking study succeeds in demonstrating how these adaptations encourage viewers to reflect on television’s own technological, aesthetic, ideological, and commercial metamorphoses. Furthermore, Griffiths clearly demonstrates that, by probing the relationship between art and contemporary society, television has simultaneously lent continuity to Zola’s goals and renewed relevance to his texts in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.’ — Barry Nevin, French Studies online, 26 July 2022 (full text online)


Introduction: Zola and the Art of Television?
Kate Griffiths
Chapter 1 Selling Zola To Twenty-First-Century Television Audiences: Zola, Gutt and the Paradise
Kate Griffiths
Chapter 2 Bodies in Translation: Zola, Venuti, L’œuvre and Madame Sourdis
Kate Griffiths
Chapter 3 Interpersonal Transactions: Zola, Nord and L’argent
Kate Griffiths
Chapter 4 the Art of Deformation: Zola, Berman and Une Page D’amour
Kate Griffiths
Chapter 5 Germinal and the Politics of Patronage: Zola, Lefevere and the Bbc
Kate Griffiths
Conclusion: Zola and the Art of Television
Kate Griffiths
Kate Griffiths
Kate Griffiths

Bibliography entry:

Griffiths, Kate, Zola and the Art of Television: Adaptation, Recreation, Translation, Transcript, 3 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2020)

First footnote reference: 35 Kate Griffiths, Zola and the Art of Television: Adaptation, Recreation, Translation, Transcript, 3 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2020), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Griffiths, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Griffiths, Kate. 2020. Zola and the Art of Television: Adaptation, Recreation, Translation, Transcript, 3 (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Griffiths 2020: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Griffiths 2020: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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