“A sign of a letter coming”. Adapting Munro’s (faked) epistolary correspondence


This article examines American director Liza Johnson’s adapted film Hateship Loveship (2013), based on Alice Munro’s short story “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage” (2001). It forms part of an ongoing project on Munro television and film adaptations, acknowledged as other, distinct, independent stories generated by the writer’s storytelling impulse, by the story(re-) telling tension inherent in her narrative. Specifically, this work concentrates on the film adaptation of the epistolary correspondence. Pervasive and pivotal, letters are indeed at the core of the story, as epistles ostensibly exchanged by an adult couple are actually faked by two young girls. In metafunctional terms, these letters operate in the narrative at the ideational, interpersonal and textual levels: by conveying information about characters, events, places; by establishing social relations among characters and between the narrator and readers/spectators; by configuring fractured and layered textuality. The short story and the film offer distinct treatments of the letters in terms of presence, distribution, remediation, and transcodification, which in turn impacts narrative development, focalization and engagement.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v28p111

Keywords: adaptation; letters; metafunctions; Alice Munro; Liza Johnson


Alter A. 2014, Alice Munro’s Prolific Film Career, in “Wall Street Journal”, 3.4.

Berthin-Scaillet A. 2010, A Reading of Away from Her, Sarah Polley’s Adaptation of Alice Munro’s Short Story, The Bear Came Over the Mountain, in “The Journal of the Short Story in English” 55, pp. 157-171.

Bluestone G. 1957, Novel into Film: A Critical Study, The John Hopkins Press, Baltimore.

Bodal E. and Strehlau N. 2016, Hateship Loveship, Adaptation, in Buchholtz M. (ed.), Alice Munro, Understanding, Adapting, Teaching, Springer, Cham, Switzerland, pp. 67-74.

Bolter J.D. and Grusin R. 2000, Remediation: Understanding New Media, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Chang J. 8.09.2013, Toronto Film Review: Hateship Loveship, Variety, http://variety.com/2013/film/markets-festivals/hateship-loveship-review-toronto-1200604118/

Cox A. 2004, Alice Munro, Tavistock, Northcoke.

Dusi N. 2003, Il cinema come traduzione. Da un medium all’altro: letteratura, cinema, pittura, UTET, Torino.

Francesconi S. 2018, La traduzione intersemiotica: da “The Bear Came over the Mountain” di Alice Munro a Away from her di Sara Polley, in Faini P. (ed.), Terminologia, Linguaggi specialistici, traduzione. Prospettive teoriche e pratiche, Tangram, Trento, pp. 141-154.

Halliday MA.K. and Matthiessen C. 2004, An Introduction to Functional Grammar (revised by, 3rd ed.), Arnold, London.

Halliday M.A.K. and Hasan R. 1985, Language, Context and Text. Aspects of Language in a Social-semiotic Perspective, Oxford UP, Oxford.

Halliday M.A.K. 1978, Language as Social Semiotics: The Social Interpretation of Language and Meaning, Edward Arnold, London.

Herz B. 10.10.2013, Exploring Alice Munro, but not through her Books, in “Maclean’s”.

Howells C. A., 2008, Alice Munro, Manchester University Press, Manchester & New York.

Hutcheon L., with O’Flynn S. 2013, A Theory of Adaptation, Routledge, New York.

Lesczynska E. 2016, Del Jordan: Becoming a Writer, in Buchholtz, M. (ed.), Alice Munro, Understanding, Adapting, Teaching, op. cit., pp. 75-87.

Lesczynska E. 2015, Time, Space and Events in Lives of Girls and Women: an Analysis of the Short Story Circle by Alice Munro and its Film

Adaptation, unpublished MA dissertation.

McBrearty D. 1983, Boys and Girls, Atlantis Film, Canada.

McFarlane B. 1996, Novel to Film, An Introduction to the Theory of Adaptation, Clarendon Press, Oxford.

McGill R. 2008, No Nation but Adaptation: ‘The Bear Came over the Mountain’, Away from Her, and What It Means to Be Faithful, in “Canadian Literature/Littérature canadienne”, 197, pp. 98-111.

Munro A., 2001, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, McClelland & Stewart, Toronto.

Polley S. 2006, Away from Her, Lionsgate, California.

Saidero D. 2017, Munro in Translation: an Analysis of The Bear Came Over the Mountain, in Palusci O. (ed.), Alice Munro and the Anatomy of the Short

Story, Cambridge Scholars, Newcastle upon Tyne, pp. 159-176.

Schuh R. 2014, Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: Alice Munro and the Epistolary Mode, Unpublished MA dissertation.

Scott A.O. 10.04.2014, Don’t Hoodwink the Help, Dear. Hateship Loveship, an Alice Munro Adaptation, in “The New York Times”, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/11/movies/hateship-loveship-an-alice-munro-adaptation.html

Stam R. and Raengo E (eds.) 2004, Literature and Film: a Guide to the Theory and Practice of Film Adaptation, Blackwell, Malden.

Stam R. and Raengo E. (eds.) 2004, A Companion to Literature and Film, Blackwell, Malden.

Stam R. 2005, Literature through Film: Realism, Magic, and the Art of Adaptation, Blackwell, Malden.

Suchorska P. 2016, There is a Change Coming […] in the Lives of Girls and Women, Del Jordan’s and Catherine’s Sloper’s Ways to Independence, in

Buchholtz M. (ed.), Alice Munro, Understanding, Adapting, Teaching, op. cit., pp. 89-103.

Ue T. 2014, Incarceration, Focalization, and Narration: Adapting the Two Selves in ‘Boys and Girls’, in “Short Fiction in Theory and Practice”, 4:2, pp. 175-185.

Wheeler A. 2002, Edge of Madness, Lions Gate Films, USA.

Full Text: pdf


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.