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Modernist Visions

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


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 Two: Intertexts and Inter-forms 65


Chapter Two Intertexts and Inter-forms This chapter moves away from the conceptual interrelation of tempo- rality with literary, filmic, and videographic poetics and aesthetics that dominates Chapter One, and towards an examination of the more tangi- ble connections forged by the presence of intertextuality in A la recherche and Histoire(s) du cinéma. In exploring the various manifestations of frag- ments lifted from diverse sources, and the patterns produced through their interconnectivity, I illustrate how Proust and Godard use intertextuality to generate complex and malleable spatio-temporal journeys. This provides concrete illustrations of how theories of textuality might be adopted by non-literary forms and, equally, of how audio-visual perspectives of such theories generate new ways to explore literature. Developed by Julia Kristeva in the 1960s, the term intertextuality springs from Bakhtin’s notion of ‘dialogisme’, which insists on the inter- action between the text of the subject and the text of the addressee. Each word is understood as the ‘unité minimale’ of any literary text, and thus forms not only ‘l’image du texte comme corpus d’atomes’ but ‘celle d’un texte fait de relations, dans lequel les mots fonctionnent comme quanta’, rather than fixed points of meaning.1 Textual space becomes three-dimen- sional, generated from the horizontal shuttling between the word of the writer and that of the addressee, as well as from the vertical pull towards anterior literary corpuses.2 In accordance with its own definition, many critics have realigned the term intertextuality according to his or her criti- cal project. Roland Barthes...

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