Luminous presence

Derek Jarman’s life-writing

Luminous presence: Derek Jarman's life-writing is the first book to analyse the prolific writing of queer icon Derek Jarman. He blended visionary queer politics with experimental self-representation and consistently created art with material drawn from his own life, using it as a generative activist force. Although he is well known for his avant-garde filmmaking, his garden and his AIDS activism, he is also the author of over a dozen books, many of which are autobiographical. Much of Jarmanʹs exploration of post-war queer identity and imaginative response to HIV/AIDS can be found in his books, such as the lyrical AIDS diaries Modern Nature and Smiling in Slow Motion, the associative book of colour Chroma, the critique of homophobia At Your Own Risk, and the activist text published alongside the film Edward II. The remarkable range and depth of his writing has yet to be fully explored by critics. Luminous Presence fills this gap. Spanning his career, Alexandra Parsons shows that Jarman’s self-reflexive response to the HIV/AIDS crisis was critical in changing the cultural terms of queer representation from the 1980s onwards. She reads Jarman's self-representations across his literary and visual works as a queer utopian project that places emphasis not on the finished product, but on the process of its production. Luminous Presence examines Jarmanʹs books in broadly chronological order so as to tell the story of his developing experimentation with self-representation. The book is aimed at students, scholars and general readers interested in queer history, literature, art and film.

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