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Literature Film Quarterly (2014) - Two Masters




In a penetrating analysis of Hitchcock's Lifeboat (1944), Griffin argues that this sense of ambivalence permeates the narrative arc: while the United States and Britain's future depends on the recognition of difference, the elimination of difference could lead to the loss of national identity. Combining close textual analysis with suggestive theoretical insights, the book shows how individuals in different socio-historical contexts negotiate important issues of gender, social identity, knowledge, and authority.


Two Masters Susan M. Griffin and Alan Nadel, eds. The Men Who Knew Too Much: Henry James and Alfred Hitchcock. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. 288 pp. $25.16 paper; $85.59 hardcover.

At first reading the central premise of The Men Who Knew Too Much might not seem too appealing to adaptation studies specialists. The fourteen essays in this anthology highlight the parallels between Henry James and Alfred Hitchcock within a framework whichas the editors admit‑has been "Freed from the questions of adaptation, fidelity, and interpretation" (viii). No attempt has been made to address issues of intermediality or consider how texts need to be reshaped to suit different audiences. The focus instead remains largely thematic, centering on questions of "subjectivity, especially female subjectivity; the workings of the gaze and the psychoanalytic; the secret and the unsayable; [and] the intertwined trajectories of desire and power" (10).

However if we consider "adaptation" as a concept not confined to textual issues, but rather as a process of coming to terms with the world around us, then The Men Who Knew Too Much has a lot to offer. Susan M. Griffin's "National Bodies" looks at how James and Hitchcock negotiated their national and gender identities through images of bodies. Hitchcock once described himself as a thin man trapped inside a fat body; James once observed that "everyone, in life, is incomplete, and it is in the work of art in reproducing them one feels the desi...

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Laurence Raw, Baçkent University, Ankara, Turkey