< Back to front page Text size +

Unfilmed classic novels

Posted by Christopher Shea  January 15, 2009 04:01 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

ayn_rand_4.jpgA senior economics writer for the Wall Street Journal editorial page says that everything you need to know about how to fight a recession/depression can be found in "Atlas Shrugged," the Ayn Rand novel.

The merit of that argument aside (!), the author (Stephen Moore) and his editors violate a cardinal journalistic rule: avoid absolute statements (X is "the first," "the only") unless you are positive you are correct.

Moore suggests that the reason "Atlas Shrugged" hasn't been turned into a film is liberal bias (though an adaptation is apparently in the works). Then, to drive home the point, he writes that "it is the only classic novel of recent decades that was never made into a movie." [my italics]

Really? "The Adventures of Augie March,"* by Bellow. "Mr. Sammler's Planet," "Henderson the Rain King," "Herzog."

Rushdie's "Midnight's Children." Nabokov's "Pale Fire." Ellison's "Invisible Man." Naipaul's "A House for Mr. Biswas."

Some of those novels are unfilmable -- but then some might say that "Atlas Shrugged" is, too (novel of ideas, titanic speechifying, etc.) Have I missed any film adaptations of the novels I've listed? Can any readers lengthen the list of exceptions to Moore's remarkable claim? The more popular the novel, the better. (Forget about whether "Atlas Shrugged" qualifies as a "classic.")

*I mangled the title when I first posted.

UPDATE: A commenter nominates "One Hundred Years of Solitude."
MORE: "Catcher in the Rye," "On the Road," "Blood Meridian," "Confederacy of Dunces," "The Stranger," all of Thomas Pynchon, "Neuromancer."

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

11 comments so far...
  1. As long as they acknowledge Alan Greenspan as Ayn Rand's libertarian boytoy, I'll go along with anything they say.

    Posted by R J Keefe January 15, 09 10:37 PM
  1. There is no film of One Hundred Years of Solitude (although there is one sort of based on part of it). Can't get much more classic than that.

    Posted by Mr Punch January 16, 09 09:48 AM
  1. Could it be that the failure of "The Fountainhead" as a movie soured movie backers on producing "Atlas Shrugged." I recall "Fountainhead" as having terribly stilted dialogue. And that may have been because of Rand's own writing involvement with the film.

    Posted by Jerry E. Stephens January 16, 09 01:01 PM
  1. Catcher in the Rye and On the Road are two big ones. Blood Meridian, The Stranger, Confederacy of Dunces, all Thomas Pynchon. If we want to go to science fiction, then Neuromancer and Ender's Game. The list goes on.

    Really its a silly argument.

    Posted by E.G. January 16, 09 04:12 PM
  1. Ah ... I was going to include "Blood Meridian" in the original item, then just forgot about it.

    Posted by Chris Shea January 16, 09 04:28 PM
  1. "March" is Augie's last name. It's not a thing he did, or a month that belonged to him, or anything like that (he did have some adventures, but the book wasn't called "Augie March's Adventures," either).

    Posted by son1 January 16, 09 07:34 PM
  1. Yikes. Fixed the title. I don't know what I was thinking.

    Posted by Chris Shea January 16, 09 08:19 PM
  1. Maybe you were conflating Augie March and Humboldt's Gift?

    Brainiac's a great blog, by the way -- a daily must-read. It's too bad you sometimes have to put up with such rude snark in the comments...

    Posted by son1 January 17, 09 08:28 AM
  1. I think I tried to just type "Augie March" and then subliminally stole the "S" from "Adventures" ...and: thanks.

    Posted by Chris Shea January 17, 09 11:06 AM
  1. 1984? duh

    Posted by KingXor April 30, 09 12:05 AM
  1. They should remake Fountainhead and hire David Mamet to write the script.

    Posted by AC September 22, 09 11:13 PM
About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


Browse this blog

by category