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Edited by: Homer B. Pettey and R. Barton Palmer

French literature on screen is a multi-author volume whose eleven chapters plus an introduction offer case histories of the screen versions of major literary works by such authors as Victor Hugo, Marcel Proust, Françoise Sagan, and George Simenon. Written by leading experts in the field, the various chapters in this volume offer insightful investigations of the artistic, cultural, and industrial processes that have made screen versions of French literary classics a central element of the national cinema.

French literature on screen breaks new scholarly ground by offering the first trans-national account of this important cultural development. These film adaptations have been important in both the American and British cinemas as well. English language screen adaptations of French literature evince the complexity of the relationship between the two texts, the two media, as well as opening up new avenues to explore studio decisions to contract and distribute this particular type of ‘foreign’ cinema to American and British audiences. In many respects, the ‘foreign’ quality of master works of the French literary canon remain their appeal over the decades from the silent era to the present.

The essays in this volume also address theoretical concerns about the interdependent relationship between literary and film texts; the status of the ‘author’, and the process of interpretation will be addressed in these essays, as will dialogical, intertextual, and transtextual approaches to adaptation.

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Brian Sudlow

This book is a comparative study of the French and English Catholic literary revivals of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These parallel but mostly independent movements include writers such as Charles Péguy, Paul Claudel, J. K. Huysmans, Gerard Manley Hopkins, G. K. Chesterton and Lionel Johnson. Rejecting critical approaches that tend to treat Catholic writings as exotic marginalia, this book makes extensive use of secularisation theory to confront these Catholic writings with the preoccupations of secularism and modernity. It compares individual and societal secularisation in France and England and examines how French and English Catholic writers understood and contested secular mores, ideologies and praxis, in the individual, societal and religious domains. The book also addresses the extent to which some Catholic writers succumbed to the seduction of secular instincts, even paradoxically in themes which are considered to be emblematic of the Catholic literature.

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From heterotopia to metatopia

Staging Carmen’s death

Phil Powrie

6 From heterotopia to metatopia: staging Carmen’s death Phil Powrie There have been some eighty film adaptations of the Carmen story since 1895 (excluding over thirty TV films), based either on Prosper Mérimée’s novella (1845) or on Georges Bizet’s opera (1875), or on a combination of both. It is one of the most adapted stories in cinema history, and the most adapted classical literature in French cinema (the next most adapted being the fifty-odd film versions of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables). Those adaptations range across national cinemas: the USA is the most

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Screening French literature

Homer B. Pettey and R. Barton Palmer

1 Introduction: screening French literature Homer B. Pettey and R. Barton Palmer French literature on screen relies upon investigations of the processes of artistic, cultural, and industry adaptations. The French film industry has always cherished the national heritage of classic literature and has adapted to the screen the works of Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Honoré de Balzac, Gustave Flaubert, Émile Zola, and Marcel Proust. Hollywood has also been keen on adapting these authors’ seminal works, often adapting a French cinematic version of the novel. So, too

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Otto Preminger’s Bonjour, Tristesse

A tale of three women, if not more

R. Barton Palmer

’s editor René Julliard) suggests that any French producers were interested, despite the obvious fact that the novel enjoyed an unparalleled popularity, especially with young adults, who constituted what was arguably the most influential section of the national film audience.6 Perhaps French filmmakers would not touch the property because they were fearful that a film version would arouse a profit-killing controversy. In 1954, Claude Autant-Lara’s Le Blé en herbe (Ripening Seed, 1954), based 132 French literature on screen on a Colette coming-of-age novel that focused

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Jeremy Strong

modelled on the films. The first advertisement was titled ‘Jacques de Florette’. The story A brief summary of the events of L’Eau des collines, common to the book and films, is germane to the discussion that follows. In Jean de Florette Ugolin Soubeyran conspires with his uncle César to obtain the property ‘Les 152 French literature on screen Romarins’ where Ugolin intends to grow carnations. Although the land in question ostensibly lacks a water source, there is a neglected spring known to César and other older villagers. Ugolin and his uncle approach the owner

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Maigret on screen

Stardom and literary adaptation

Ginette Vincendeau

Orfèvres on the Île de la Cité – the world of his male colleagues – and his home on Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, the domain 166 French literature on screen of the patient Madame Maigret. The coherence of Maigret’s characterization was reinforced from the start by its close association with Simenon. There are similarities in terms of physical appearance but also biography: both came from a modest background and dropped out of medical studies; biographers also point out echoes of the author’s own father and grandfather, described in his 1948 autobiographical novel

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The Americanization of Victor Hugo

Darryl F. Zanuck’s Les Misérables (1935)

Guerric DeBona

early in its literary history), as a poet, and a political figure, but now the author was feeding his Belgian publisher, Lacroix and Verboeckhoven, press releases, saying that it was ‘the social and historical drama of the nineteenth century’ and ‘a vast mirror reflecting the human race, capture on a given day of its enormous existence’. And this: ‘Dante made a hell with poetry; I have tried 74 French literature on screen to make one with reality’.7 The publisher’s careful and aggressive advertising campaign proliferated in shop windows, store fronts and edifices

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Jennifer L. Jenkins

most! If this continues, it will have to [move to] the Champs de Mars.)8 Such enthusiasm was not limited to France. Four months later, in London, the popular success of the French Théâtre Historique travelling company’s production caused a nativist riot in the Drury Lane Theatre on both nights of its attempted staging.9 The London Observer printed a letter from the director of the Théâtre Historique complaining that their simple attempt to bring to the stage the works of Alexandre Dumas was met with ‘numerous 14 French literature on screen obstacles and

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Homer B. Pettey

literary and cinematic forms, but also among transmedial forms of computers, video games, and messaging systems. The subject of these intertextual forms of adaptation always remains rape and its consequences. These provocations reveal how Elle admirably, if quite disturbingly, plays with conventions of contemporary femininity by taking the emotionally and politically fraught subject of violent sexual assault and rendering it graphically and satirically. Elle, then, serves as an outré, contemporary model for the process of adaptation. 212 French literature on screen