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Abstract

During his two-decade film career, Academy Award-winning writer/director Neil Jordan has transcended conventions and crossed national boundaries to create an oeuvre of critically acclaimed films in a variety of genres. However, despite his reputation as an internationally recognized author and filmmaker whose projects have received financing from both American and European production companies, Jordan has remained, first and foremost, an Irish artist, injecting his interpretations of the struggle for Irish identity into both his film and fiction work. In a body of films so concerned with formulating a coherent Irish identity, Jordan’s adaptation of Graham Greene’s 1951 novel The End of the Affair (1999) initially appears as an anomaly. Detailing a four-year long affair between author Maurice Bendrix and Sarah Miles, the wife of a British civil servant, against the backdrops of pre- and post-World War II London, the novel never deviates from its English setting, eschewing direct references to Britain’s relationship with the Irish and the other colonial holdings over which the waning British Empire was losing its dominion.

Yet, while Jordan’s film appears to maintain an overarching fidelity to Greene’s novel, its differential reconstruction of the source text’s London narrative serves as a strategy to interrogate the complex web of relationships between colonial discourse, Irish independence, and the global film industry. In the adaptation, Jordan cultivates a through line of imperial force from the British Empire to contemporary Hollywood, subtly altering the last two books of the novel by reframing the narrative’s preoccupations with the Catholic faith and the state of the British Empire after World War II through the lens of an Irish perspective that not only criticizes Britain’s suppression of Irish-Catholicism but also refracts literary and cinematic stereotypes of the Irish in its construction of mid-century London.

Bio

Jerod Ra’Del Hollyfield is an Associate Professor of Film at Carson-Newman and the author of Framing Empire: Postcolonial Adaptations of Victorian Literature in Hollywood.

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