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 movie-making. 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 quotations from his favourite reading and, as physical objects, books are constantly being 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. Reading with Jean-Luc Godard will explore the extraordinary breadth of Godard’s reading: 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 his introduction, editor Kevin J. Hayes will analyse the place of books in Godard’s cinema. More than just props and sources of quotations, they inform his thinking and inspire his work arguably more than any filmmaker or cinematic school. 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.