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Abstract

As a sub-project of the Global Circulation Project, this essay discusses how Dickens’s works have been adapted and translated for the screen in China (mainland and Hong Kong), particularly in the 1950s and 1960s. The essay examines the film Gu Xing Xue Lei (1955), a Cantonese adaptation of Dickens’s Great Expectations, and a dubbed version of David Lean’s Great Expectations (1946), respectively shown in Hong Kong and mainland Chinese cinemas, to explore the various factors affecting the rewriting process. Moreover, it argues that Dickens’s works were interpreted and consumed in two different ways in 1950s China; while the Hong Kong film industry regarded them as a rich source of inspiration, in mainland China film makers saw Dickens’s works as offering a model for the criticism of capitalist systems and social life. At the end of the essay it is argued that studying the circulation of literature via screens around the world enables researchers to observe not only the history of literary transmission but also the social, cultural and political forces driving the evolution of literature, as well as the connections between classic literature and popular culture.