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Seeing the Novel, Reading the Film: Unveiling Masculinity, Englishness and Power Struggle in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles

IRINA I. SIMONOVA STROUT

The University of Tulsa

Abstract

Masculinity as a notion encompasses a number of identities, including psychic and social ones. During the late Victorian and early Edwardian period, masculinity as a construct underwent many changes, which affected notions of work, property ownership, sexuality, as well as power struggle with men-rivals and women. The concept of ‘manliness’ became a new moral code as well as a social imperative. Embracing this ideal was a challenging and testing experience for many men as they negotiated power, privilege and status in both the private and the public spheres of life. The Edwardian age, a transitional time in British history, became preoccupied with the consequences of the Boer Wars, gender formation, imperial policy, economic changes and many other factors. This article explores the paradigms of English masculinity and the construction of male identity as a cultural signifier in Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel The Hound of the Baskervilles and its Russian film adaptation by Igor Maslennikov. Doyle contextualizes multiple facets of masculinity from the normative to the transgressive, from the private to the public, as well as from the effeminate to the manly as his characters are affected by the anxieties and tensions of their society. After an in-depth analysis of manhood in the novel, the focus of the article shifts to Maslennikov’s adaptation and its cinematic use of the literary text, as the film interrogates masculine codes of behavior, relationships with women and the male power struggle represented in the novel. The film becomes a visual interpretation and a powerful enhancement of the narrative’s tensions and concerns.

Keywords: Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Igor Maslennikov, masculinity, manhood, anxiety, identity, film adaptation, power, gender, behavior

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