A mille lieues de Saumur? Ré-inventer Balzac pour la radio avec Eugénie Grandet (BBC, 2014)

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In July and August 2014, a two-part adaptation of Eugénie Grandet aired on BBC Radio 4. With a script by novelist Rose Tremain and starring Sir Ian McKellen, this radio play boasted a wealth of artistic talent that garnered it widespread popularity with critics and listeners alike. Following the broadcast of the first episode, however, one reviewer proved scathing in her assessment of this dramatisation. Writing in The Independent, Fiona Sturges complained that Eugénie Grandet was symptomatic of a wholesale decline in the artistic standards of BBC radio. Drawing on an interview with the director of Eugénie Grandet, Gordon House, this article argues that the BBC radio adaptation of Balzac’s novel is a much richer and more intriguing work than such a hostile review would have us believe. Far from being a second-rate imitation of its canonical source, Tremain’s version of Eugénie Grandet invites us to consider the transformation that Balzac’s work undergoes when it is adapted in a cross-cultural context. By recreating the story for a British radio audience, the production both reconfigures and sheds new light upon the novel, not least by calling attention to the tragic elements within the character of Félix Grandet.

Bibliographic note

ISBN 9782130822912


Translated title of the contributionA world away from Saumur? Re-inventing Balzac for Radio in Eugénie Grandet (BBC, 2014)
Original languageFrench
JournalL' Annee Balzacienne
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2020