What is it for a Literary Artwork to Survive?

Nicholson, Andrew Terence
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The Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (SASMARS)
At least part of the concern here, as elsewhere in the critical literature surrounding adaptations of Shakespeare’s works, seems to me to centre on the question of whether these works survive in the later versions; that is, whether the purported adaptations of the plays still are Shakespeare. Although it is no part of my intention here to adjudicate in the specific debates which arise concerning this question, I will be interested in the question of what criteria are relevant to this adjudication. Should it simply be a matter of how much of the relevant text is included in the film? Should it be whether the film looks like we think that the play or Verona looked in Shakespeare’s time? Do modern references necessarily undermine the extent of the survival of the original in the film? Can Shakespeare still survive in a work which is noticeably reminiscent of the work of another artist (such as Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom)? Thus, the present paper requires us to take a step back from the question of how various aspects of Medieval and Renaissance literature have survived and to attempt to address the question of what it is for a work of literature (Medieval, Renaissance, or any other kind) to survive. My question is, therefore, primarily philosophical in nature, rather than literary or historical.
What is it for a Literary Artwork to Survive,1017-3455,The Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.