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Alison Case’s Nelly Dean (2016): the (re)Writing of Wuthering Heights

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Alison Case’s Nelly Dean (2016): the (re)Writing of Wuthering Heights

Cette communication a été filmée dans le cadre du colloque international  "Writers in Neo-Victorian Fiction" organisé par l'équipe anglophone ERIBIA le 11 octobre 2019 à la Maison de la Recherche en Sciences Humaines de l'Université Caen Normandie, sous la responsablilité d'Armelle Parey (ERIBIA, Caen) et Charlotte Wadoux (19-21, Paris 3).

Isabelle Roblin is an assistant professor at the Université du Littoral-Côte d’Opale, specializing in contemporary American and British literatures, and has published many articles on Graham Swift, Kazuo Ishiguro, C. S. Forester, Salman Rushdie among others. She has been working recently on the literary and filmic adaptations of “the canon”, and more particularly on Harold Pinter’s adapted screenplays and wrote in 2011 Harold Pinter, la liberté artistique et ses limites. Approches des scenarios. She is also the co-editor with Armelle Parey of several collections, among which A.S. Byatt, Before and After Possession : Recent Critical Approaches (PUN-editions de Lorraine, 2017).


Nelly Dean by Alison Case (2016) is in many ways typical of the numerous rewritings of Emily Brontë’s only novel Wuthering Heights. In this contemporary retelling, Nelly Dean, one of the narrators of the hypotext, writes in several installments to Mr Lockwood about “the story [she] told [him] over those long, dark nights”, but also about “the story [she] didn’t tell”. Secrets are of course revealed (the most important one in another letter), as in many rewritings, for example Lin Haire-Sargeant’s 1992 H: The Story of Heathcliff's Journey Back to Wuthering Heights, Terry Eagleton’s 1995 Heathcliff and the Great Hunger or Emma Tennant’s 2005 Heathcliff’s Tale, but they are not the ones the readers of neo-Victorian fiction have come to expect. Moreover, the question of who exactly Nelly is writing for and why looms larger and larger as the story develops and becomes a leitmotiv within the narrative. The analysis of this self-reflexivity as well as the question of the “promotion” of Nelly Dean from second-hand narrator in Wuthering Heights to writer in the eponymous novel are going to be the main points of focus of this paper.



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