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Sophie Bélot

In The Cinema of Catherine Breillat, Bélot offers a detailed analysis of Breillat’s past and recent films. Breillat is one of the most internationally renowned French women filmmakers whose notoriety is built on her explicit representation of women’s sexuality. Most of her films rely on a female protagonist’s personal and intimate search of her self, characterised by her sexual journey.
Facing censorship and controversy, Breillat’s films do not easily fit classification and place the viewer into an uncomfortable position. This study looks at Breillat as an independent cinema auteur entertaining a close relation with her films by exploring and positing women, from adolescence to adulthood, as sexual beings reflecting her films’ identity emanating from Breillat’s personal or intimate scenes.

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Luiz Renato Martins

Edited by Steve Edwards

In The Conspiracy of Modern Art the Brazilian critic and art-historian Luiz Renato Martins presents a new account of modern art from David to Abstract Expressionism. The once vibrant debate on these touchstones of modernism has gone stale. Viewed from the Sao Paulo megalopolis the art of Paris and New York - embodying Revolution, Thermidor, Bonapartistm and Bourgeois ‘Triumph' - once more pulsates in tragic key.
Equally attentive to form and politics, Martins invites us to look again at familiar pictures. In the process, modern art appears in a new light. These essays, largely unknown to an English-speaking audience, may be the most important contribution to the account of modern painting since the important debates of the 1980s.

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Mary Bergstein

Marcel Proust offered the twentieth century a new psychology of memory and seeing. His novel In Search of Lost Time was written in the modern age of photography and art history. In Looking Back One Learns to See: Marcel Proust and Photography brings to light Proust’s photographic resources and his visual imagination. This scrupulously researched book features over 100 illustrations.
Distinguished cultural historian Mary Bergstein presents various kinds of photography and photographic systems with regard to the literature of Marcel Proust, including daguerreotypes, stereoscopic cards, cartes-de-visite, postcards, book illustrations, portraiture, medical photography, spirit photography, architectural photography, and Orientalism. Photographs associated with fin-de-siècle studies of Botticelli, Leonardo, and Vermeer, are considered in terms of Proust’s tastes and the historiography of art.

Multimedia Archaeologies

Gabriele D’Annunzio, Belle Époque Paris, and the Total Artwork

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Andrea Mirabile

Paris, 1910-1915. Artists, intellectuals, and international celebrities crowd the city as never before. Decadent dreams and avant-garde manifestos celebrate the marriage between art and life. Creative experiments and vital joy dance hand in hand—on the edge of the abyss of WWI. Gabriele D’Annunzio is one of the highly influential yet semi-forgotten protagonists of this season and an emblem of its contradictions. A child of the Decadence, but also a forerunner of Modernism, the Italian poet defies the barriers between art forms, languages, and aesthetic practices. Tellingly, some of the period’s major figures across the arts are involved in D’Annunzio’s projects, including Canudo, Bakst, Brooks, Debussy, Montesquiou, and Rubinstein. In particular, in his sacred drama Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien, the poet combines French, Italian, literature, theater, mime, dance, music, painting, and cinema in a way that fuses old and new. D’Annunzio’s hybrid experiments challenge Wagner’s ‘total artwork’ theories, search for a synthesis between pictorial stillness and filmic movement, and anticipate contemporary multimedia experiences. These artistic collaborations end suddenly at the outbreak of the Great War, when Dannunzian total artworks migrate from the stage to the battlefield, generating a controversial legacy that calls for renewed critical investigations.

Material Figures

Political Economy, Commercial Culture, and the Aesthetic Sensibility of Charles Baudelaire

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Margueritte S. Murphy

Ideological debates about economics and aesthetics raged hotly in nineteenth-century France. French political economy was taking shape as a discipline that would support free-market liberalism, while l’art pour l’art theories circulated, and utopian systems with aesthetic and economic agendas proliferated. Yet, as this book argues, the discourses of art and literature worked in tandem with market discourses to generate theories of economic and social order, of the model of the self-individuating and desiring subject of modernity, and of this individual’s relationship to a new world of objects. Baudelaire as a poet and art critic is exemplary: Rather than a disaffected artist, Baudelaire is shown to be a spectator desirous of both art and goods whose sensibilities reflect transformations in habits of perception. The book includes chapters on equilibrium and utility in economic and aesthetic theory, on the place of the aesthetic in press coverage of the industrial exhibitions, on the harmonic theories of Baudelaire’s early art criticism, aimed at a bourgeois audience, on Baudelaire’s radical cosmopolitanism learned through viewing “objects” on display at the Universal Exhibition of 1855, and on Les Fleurs du Mal and Le Spleen de Paris, where language makes visible the traits of a new material world.

Scapeland

Writing the Landscape from Diderot’s Salons to the Postmodern Museum

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Gillian B. Pierce

Scapeland: Writing the Landscape from Diderot’s Salons to the Postmodern Museum is a comparative, interdisciplinary study tracing theories of the sublime and a history of spectatorship from Diderot’s eighteenth-century French Salons, through art criticism by Baudelaire and Breton, to Jean-François Lyotard’s postmodern exhibition Les Immatériaux. In the Salons, an exploration of the painted landscape becomes an encounter with both the limits of representation and the infinite possibilities of fiction. Baudelaire and Breton explore similar limits in their work, set against the backdrop of the modern city. For them, as for Diderot, the attempt to render visual objects in narrative language leads to the development of new literary forms and concerns. Lyotard’s concept of the “postmodern museum” frames the sublime encounter, once again, in terms that expressly evoke Diderot’s verbal rendering of painted spaces as a personal promenade. According to Lyotard, Diderot “ouvre, par écrit, les surfaces des tableaux comme les portes d’une exposition.. . . [il] abolit . . . l’opposition de la nature et de la culture, de la réalité de l’image, du volume et de la surface.” Reading the literary production of these four writers alongside their art criticism, Scapeland considers narrative responses to art as imaginative assertions of human presence against the impersonal world of objects.

Wagner and the Novel

Wagner’s Operas and the European Realist Novel: An exploration of genre

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Hugh Ridley

This study bridges literature and music at an exciting and controversial point, offering the lover of music and literature and the specialist reader an insight into the relationship between Wagner’s operas and the nineteenth century novel, including comparisons with Rigoletto and Der Rosenkavalier in their evolution from other forms. It discusses matters of genre and national tradition, placing Wagner’s works in the heritage of the European Enlightenment.
Comparisons of Wagner’s works with the novel have been fleeting, denoting only their length and complexity. Examining in principle and in detail the proximity of Wagner’s themes and techniques to the practices of the Realist novel, this study sheds original light on major issues of Wagner’s works and on opera as genre.
The book trawls extensively in two research fields. It looks to the established Wagner literature for understandings of the musical procedures which map his works onto the prose fiction, while reading Wagner’s operas against the backdrop of the European novel, rather than against German Romantic fiction. It revisits Adorno’s music sociology and his seminal study of Wagner, but repositions many elements of his argument. Unusually, this book adopts a critical stance to Nietzsche’s view of Wagner. In marked contrast to Nietzsche, the study regards parallels between Wagner and Flaubert as an enrichment of our understanding of Wagner’s achievement.
The book concludes with a major question of European cultural history: why it is that – in common with Italy, but in marked contrast to France or England – Germany’s most representative works in the nineteenth century are operas rather than novels.

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Edited by Jeff Persels

Volume 39 of FLS French Literature Series features ten articles on the topic of the environment in French and Francophone Literature and Film. Contributors engage with the work of such authors, filmakers and cartoonists as Michel Serres, Luc Ferry, Patrice Nganang, Marie Darrieussecq, Yann-Arthus Bertrand and Plantu, and such topics as human zoos, eco-colonialism, queer theory, and the environmental catastrophes of WWI and, globally, of human civilization as recorded in the recent eco-documentary, HOME. Wide-ranging, provocative and topical these articles both broaden and deepen the efficacy of ecocriticism as a tool for enriching our understanding of the field beyond the English and American “nature writing” at the theory’s core.

Contemporary French Art 2

Gérard Garouste, Colette Deblé, Georges Rousse, Geneviève Asse, Martial Raysse, Christian Jaccard, Joël Kermarrec, Danièle Perronne, Daniel Dezeuze, Philippe Favier, Daniel Nadaud

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Michael Bishop

Gérard Garouste, Colette Deblé, Georges Rousse, Geneviève Asse, Martial Raysse, Christian Jaccard, Joël Kermarrec, Danièle Perronne, Daniel Dezeuze, Philippe Favier, Daniel Nadaud: after the eleven essays of Contemporary French Art 1, devoted to major artists from Ben Vautier and Niki de Saint Phalle to Annette Messager and Gérard Titus-Carmel, the present volume pursues its interrogations of the what, the how and the why of contemporary plastic production of some of France’s finest practitioners. If, as ever, such production can reveal elements of an interweaving of individualized preoccupations and modes, endless specificities demarcate and affirm originalities that pure theory and its leveling anonymity may obscure. Thus is it that Gérard Garouste is alone in that obsession with ‘indianness’ and ‘classicalness’; that Colette Deblé’s gesture is drawn implacably to the unseenness of female representation; that Georges Rousse plunges photography into the realm of matter’s poetic sacredness; that Geneviève Asse traverses a pure seemingness of abstraction to attain to an intimacy of silence; that Martial Raysse’s ‘hygiene of vision’ may endlessly renew and hybridize itself. Christian Jaccard, too, will explore with uniqueness an art of materiality at the frontier of metaphysics; Joël Kermarrec will offer us the inimitable exquisite traces of surging desire and deception; Danièle Perronne’s boxes and stringings, her paintings and her sheetings will unfold a psychic infinity at the heart of form. And, if Daniel Dezeuze seeks namelessness and pure structuration, the latter yet surge forth via works that relentlessly identify a gesture so distant, we may feel, from the at once sobering and ceremonial microproliferations of a Philippe Favier or the tense but genial articulations of Daniel Nadaud’s sculptural imagination.