This introductory chapter emphasizes the importance of studying cross-media adaptations in Chinese literature and cinema. It posits two reasons for the scarcity of such comparative studies, noting the inherent difficulty of studying cross-media adaptation of any kind, as well as the peril of the inherently transtextual nature of Chinese cultural traditions. Given the latter issue in particular, this chapter presents a different approach for the study of Chinese adaptation: instead of imposing default frameworks such as region or genre on the empirical messiness of adaptation, the chapter posits a careful study of seven films that are ranked among the best, most influential, and most interesting examples in the modern history of Chinese adaptation. Blending historical contexts with close readings, this method will be used to identify and examine some of the richest and most revealing hermeneutic points of contact and divergence between source texts and films.
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