Reading with Jean-Luc Godard
When François Truffaut made Fahrenheit 451 in 1966, he boasted that he would include more books in it than Jean-Luc Godard had included in all of his previous films. Truffaut’s comment reveals that the book had become a signature motif in Godard’s work during his early days of moviemaking. Though his lengthy career has since taken many unusual twists and unexpected turns, books have remained important to Godard’s work. Be they pulp novels or philosophical tracts, classical dramas or political pamphlets, books are everywhere in the cinema of Jean-Luc Godard. Dialogue and narration are packed with quotes from his favourite reading, and, as physical objects, books are not just used as background props but are constantly brought to the fore, in inserted close-ups of covers, in pans along packed bookshelves, and in rooms stacked high with paperback crime novels. His characters, it seems, are constantly picking up books and reading from them.
In Reading with Jean-Luc Godard, experts from around the world read the books that have had the most impact on Godard, studying them as a way of understanding his films more fully. This collection will consist of original essays, each devoted to a different book. The books Godard has adapted as films will receive separate chapters, and many books he references in either his dialogue or mise en scène will also receive separate treatment. Reading with Jean-Luc Godard will exhibit his extraordinary range of literary references, which include French classics from the Enlightenment through the Modernist era, British novels, German philosophical treatises, standard works from American literary history, crime fiction, histories of art, science fiction, science fact, and much more. In their introduction, editors Kevin J. Hayes and Céline Scemama will analyse the place of books in Godard’s cinema. Reading with Jean-Luc Godard will not only be an invaluable tool for the study of Godard’s films: this volume aims to shed new light on the cinema’s longstanding, and ongoing, dialogue with the printed word.