Cult film and adaptation

Authored by: I.Q. Hunter

The Routledge Companion to Cult Cinema

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138950276
eBook ISBN: 9781315668819
Adobe ISBN:


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The term “cult novel” is as tendentious as that of cult film. 1 Cult novels are in fact harder to define than cult films as they lack any equivalent to that foundational period of “midnight movies” in the early 1970s which instituted a canon of cult films adopted by countercultural audiences and subsequently check listed in books like Stuart Samuels’s Midnight Movies (1983) and Danny Peary’s Cult Films trilogy (1982, 1983, 1989). Novel-reading, unlike cinema-going, is generally a solitary experience, at least before its cult pleasures could be shared in reading groups and in online forums, and determining a novel’s cult status and reputation is therefore unavoidably speculative. One simple but unsatisfactory rule of thumb might be that a cult novel belongs to that elusive discursive category if it is repeatedly inserted into it by, for example, reviews of reprints, on book jackets and in publishers’ catalogues, or in Wikipedia entries, journalistic surveys, and online listicles that address “what is a cult novel?” In that sense “cult” is no less debatable as a descriptor than “classic,” a category into which many cult novels are ultimately inducted.

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