Isabel Coixet's 2008 adaptation of Philip Roth's Dying Animal (2001) signals in its title, Elegy, the conceptual divergence of the film from its source. Roth's title expresses the inescapable reality of the mortal body, its desires, decay, and disappearance; Coixet turns from the dying body to the literary form that contains grief within a stately ritual. If The Dying Animal plays to nihilism and irony, Elegy, using apparently the same material, plays to the reparative process of mourning. The adaptation represents a shift not only in medium and interpretation but also in genre and style: from narcissism, emotional exile, and thwarted confession to compassionate love and consolatory elegy, from what Edward W. Said called “late style” to its antithesis, “timeliness.” Closely reading each text's presentation of perspective and closure and elements of the film's style, including mise-en-scène, sound track, camera work, and montage, the essay argues that Roth and Coixet roughly match genre to ideological style: late style inscribes the failed confession in the novel, while timeliness rewrites the film as an elegy.
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Debra Shostak; Lateness, Timeliness, and Elegy: Philip Roth's Dying Animal on Film. Genre 1 April 2014; 47 (1): 79–102. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00166928-2392375
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