The Reader on Red Alert: Stanley Kubrick, Peter George and the Evolution of Fear

Graham Allen


One of the purposes of studying adaptation is to allow, periodically, for a reassessment of the dominant assumptions concerning the relation between films and their non-filmic, often literary intertexts. The relation between Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb and Peter George’s novel Two Hours to Doom or, to use its U.S. title, Red Alert, is in need of such reassessment. In particular, the currently influential work of Peter Krämer on Dr. Strangelove presents us with an argument in which Kubrick’s film is a wholesale correction of George’s novel. This paper wishes to revise this influential reading, bringing our attention back to the literary and political complexity of George’s novel. Kubrick’s film, I want to argue, is not a correction but an historically situated adaptation. The paper presents this revision in the context of an emergent reassessment of Peter George’s wider career as a novelist.


Kubrick; Peter George; Red Alert

DOI: 10.6092/issn.2280-9481/7350


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