Legend of King Arthur: Adaptation of Mordred's Story

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Many works of literature from historical ones to modern ones can be rewritten in form of an adaptation. An adaptation is simply when a story is rewritten by using several techniques such as extension or expansion. Just as old movies are remade today, books can also be rewritten, either having a similar or a slightly different outcome. An adaptation, however, could also have specific changes such as how the stories are told by using different perspective. The excerpts from Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree by Gerald Genette describe many literary devices that are used when writing a hypertext, which is adaptation. Nancy Springer’s novel I am Mordred is an example of an adaptation of a fifteenth century book by Sir Thomas Malory called Le Morte D’arthur. Springer uses expansion, extension and focalization from Genette’s “Literature in the Second Degree”, specifically writing I am Mordred in the perspective of Mordred himself as the narrator of the story, and thereby successfully focusing on a deeper analysis of Mordred, who is evidently depicted as a sympathetic character having to cope with his psychological problem, facing his prophesized fate. Springer’s I am Mordred and Malory’s Le Morte D’arthur are different yet similar to a certain extent. One major distinction between the hypertext and hypotext is the narrative perspective or focalization, in Genette’s terms. Focalization is when the author modifies the narrative point of view. Readers of I am Mordred will read the novel in Mordred’s point of view and readers of Le Morte D’arthur will read it without a character’s point of view. This being the case, Springer’s version of Mordred contains more sophisticated details about Mordred than Malory’s. Since Mordred is the narrator telling his own story, he is able to give readers a more sympathetic characteristic look than Mallory’s Mordred, who is depicted as a more evil figure. Furthermore, Malory’s “Le Morte D’arthur” is not only focused on the character Mordred but more on the whole Arthurian Legend, which not only includes a specific story of Mordred but also other Arthurian characters. Thus, a detailed analysis of characters such as Mordred is not included. In the case of “I am Mordred”, readers can really catch and feel the prospective of Mordred because the book is written in Mordred’s view. To successfully put readers in Mordred’s steps, Springer uses expansion, focalization and many others of Genette’s literary devices to rewrite the story of Mordred. Yet although Springer has changed much of the character’s mood and personality, the two differently written stories contain the same plot; Springer achieves this effectively because she has only changed how the readers look upon the characters’ personality and not the outcome of the story. Another distinction between the hypertext and hypotext is the language. In the hypotext, Malory uses Middle English, which is odd to most people today; readers will have a hard time focusing on the character analysis. In comparison, Springer’s usage of modern English is an advantage in effectively grasping Mordred’s mind and thoughts to clearly understand how Mordred actually feels about King Arthur, who simultaneously is his father and uncle—and most importantly his prophesized fate to kill Arthur. Despite the differences and similarities between the hypotext and the hypertext, Springer builds up her adaptation by using Genette’s literary devices to completely revaluate Mordred with a psychological transformation. One of the techniques Springer uses to augment “I am Mordred” is called expansion. Expansion, as described by Genette, is not directly expanding the hypotext by adding massive additions but through a “kind of stylistic dilation”. Genette states that “in grossly oversimplified terms, the procedure consists in doubling or tripling the length of each sentence in the hypotext” (Genette 260). This is exactly what Springer did to her adaptation of Mordred;...
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