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Modernist Visions

Marcel Proust’s «A la recherche du temps perdu» and Jean-Luc Godard’s «Histoire(s) du cinéma»

Series:

Miriam Heywood

This book explores the work of two major twentieth-century artists by placing them in critical proximity. Marcel Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu and Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma connect in ways that the author accounts for through the agency of cinema and its theorisation. Cinema, the art form that characterises the twentieth century, provides the tools with which to recognise Proust’s and Godard’s shared poetic enterprise and the modernist underpinning that leads, in both cases, to the simultaneous rejection of and yearning for artistic transcendence. Rather than bringing Proust and Godard together by highlighting their similarity to cinema, the author instead considers the ways that these two major works respond to questions raised by film theory and philosophy. In this way, the communication across the formal and historical gulf that divides Proust and Godard makes itself heard.
This study offers a new approach to film-philosophy scholarship by embracing the cinematic as an inspiring channel through which to rethink not only our relationship with film but also with literature and, potentially, with art at large.

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Chapter One: Imagined Images 17

Extract

Chapter One Imagined Images The relationship between time and the image is the most palpable thematic link that springs from any comparison made between A la recherche and Histoire(s) du cinéma, and it provides both the focus of my introductory analysis and the conceptual backbone of the book. Deleuze’s philosophi- cal exploration of cinema time provides much of the theoretical backdrop to the comparisons drawn between Proust’s evocations of involuntary memory and Godard’s image-memories. For Deleuze’s analyses of the cinematic image open up the possibilities that lie in the realm of visuality, analyses that are as much concerned with the invisible as they are the vis- ible. The emphasis Deleuze places on the virtual (unactualizable) image invites analyses to be drawn from outside the cinematic realm. Indeed, the ‘visuality’ of Proust’s prose has encouraged much scholarly interest and yet there are, evidently, no visible images to be found in his dense prose. Conversely, Histoire(s) du cinéma may well be compared to a kaleidoscope made up of thousands of disparate images, but it is comprised equally of non-images, of black screens that leave spaces for the actual images to react to one another. It is the imagined image, generated by these encounters, that is, I argue, the most productive of all. Deleuze’s explorations of the time-image, and specifically of the crystal-image, assist in the theorization of the imagined image in relation to structures of memory and time as well as to the production and reception of art.1...

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