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Body Double

The Author Incarnate in the Cinema

Lucy Fischer

Publication Year: 2013

Body Double explores the myriad ways that film artists have represented the creative process. In this highly innovative work, Lucy Fischer draws on a neglected element of auteur studies to show that filmmakers frequently raise questions about the paradoxes of authorship by portraying  the onscreen writer. Dealing with such varied topics as the icon of the typewriter, the case of the writer/director, the authoress, and the omnipresent infirm author, she probes the ways in which films can tell a plausible story while contemplating the conditions and theories of their making.

            By examining many forms of cinema, from Hollywood and the international art cinema to the avant-garde, Fischer considers the gender, age, and mental or physical health of fictionalized writers; the dramatized interaction between artists and their audiences and critics; and the formal play of written words and nonverbal images.

            By analyzing such movies as Adaptation, Diary of a Country Priest, Naked Lunch, American Splendor, and Irezumi, Fischer tracks the parallels between film author and character, looking not for the creative figure who stands outside the text, but for the one who stands within it as corporeal presence and alter-ego.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Frontispiece, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

As always, there are many people to thank for the genesis of a book. First, I gained much insight into the material through interaction with my graduate students in a seminar on Authorship and the Cinema at the University of Pittsburgh in 2006. Second, I had the opportunity to present my ideas at my Distinguished Professorship lecture to the university community in 2009. ...

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Introduction: The Screen Author — Wanted: Dead or Alive

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pp. 1-19

In 1968, the year of so many other cultural and political declarations, French critic Roland Barthes provocatively proclaimed “Th e Death of the Author” in an essay bearing that title. Privileging the text over its creator, Barthes saw the literary work as a place “where all identity is lost, starting with the very identity of the body writing.”1 ...

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Chapter 1: Typecasting the Author

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pp. 20-36

Th e act of writing is not a compelling cinematic event — hence the difficulties of portraying authors onscreen. (As the aforementioned Grant Snider cartoon makes clear, they engage in “years of boring hard work.”) Such characters either pick up a pen or pencil and move implement to paper, or sit at a keyboard and type — both largely static occurrences. ...

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Chapter 2: Beyond Adaptation: The Writer as Filmmaker

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pp. 37-59

In the last chapter, we ended our examination of the typewriter icon with a discussion of a film by David Cronenberg inspired by William Burroughs’s Naked Lunch. In truth, however, the relationship between cinema and literature has been an uneasy one. In 1942, Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein wrote an essay entitled “Dickens, Griffith and the Film Today,” ...

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Chapter 3: The Author at the Dream Factory: The Screenwriter and the Movies

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pp. 60-87

It comes as no surprise that when the figure of the author is represented in movies, it is often the screenwriter portrayed. Here, of course, we have a far more direct invocation of the film auteur than in works about the novelist. Almost always, the scenarist is male — and either a cad, a neurotic, a misfit, a miscreant, or a womanizer (and sometimes all five) ...

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Chapter 4: The Authoress: Textuality as Sexuality

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pp. 88-113

It comes as no surprise (given literary history) that most films about the fictional writer center on a man (a fact that previous and subsequent chapters of this book amply demonstrate). As Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar noted in their seminal text The Mad Woman in the Attic in 1979: ...

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Chapter 5: Writing Pain: The Infirm Author

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pp. 114-141

While Virginia Woolf finds the motif of illness rare in literature, it has certainly not been infrequent in films that feature the writer as protagonist. Clearly, the most common form that sickness takes is the mental kind — a recurrent cliché in visions of the artist. As Philip Sandblom writes: ...

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Chapter 6: Cinécriture: Word and Image

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pp. 142-164

Throughout the book, in discussing the embodiment of the writer onscreen, we have focused on filmic moments that provoke tensions between word and image — be they shots of a book’s page (Barton Fink), words on a computer screen (Rage), manuscript copy in a typewriter (Naked Lunch, The Shining), a handwritten text (The Tango Lesson), ...

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Chapter 7: Corpus and Oeuvre: Authorship and the Body

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pp. 165-189

A recent book on disability and film is called The Problem Body.1 One might argue that this could also suffice for the title of a volume on authorship and film. What the “death of the author” suggests is that we let “expire” (if only figuratively) the human agent responsible for creating a work and, along with it, her body — the site of human existence. ...

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Chapter 8: Stealing Beauty: The Reader, the Critic, and the Appropriation of the Authorial Voice

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pp. 190-213

As Georges Poulet notes, the writer does not work in a vacuum. When a manuscript is completed it enters a broader universe, waiting for someone else to “show an interest” in it. Among those who do are readers, editors, and critics. In this chapter, we will examine films that highlight two of these roles. ...

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Afterword: Signs and Meaning in the Cinema

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pp. 214-226

Limitless (2011, directed by Neil Burger) is a rather silly movie about a blocked, aimless novelist, Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), who gains sudden powers by taking a secret, unlicensed medicine. In one scene, we notice on his bookshelf a copy of Barthes by Barthes (a text that combines memoir, anecdote, and literary theory). ...

Notes

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pp. 227-242

Filmography

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pp. 243-246

Bibliography

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pp. 247-256

Index

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pp. 257-274

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About the Author

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pp. 288-289

Lucy Fischer is Distinguished Professor of English and Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author or editor of nine other books: Jacques Tati (G. K. Hall, 1983), Shot/Counter shot: Film Tradition and Women’s Cinema (Princeton University Press, 1989), ...


E-ISBN-13: 9780813554501
E-ISBN-10: 0813554500
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813554488
Print-ISBN-10: 0813554497

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 41 photographs
Publication Year: 2013