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Good work, little soldier: Text and pretext

Lack, RF; (2004) Good work, little soldier: Text and pretext. Journal of European Studies , 34 (1-2) pp. 34-43. 10.1177/0047244104044240. Green open access


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This article reads the relation between Denis's Beau Travail and Jean-Luc Godard's 1960 film Le Petit Soldat as a film-on-film variant of film-on-book adaptation. The model informing this reading is not so much intertextual as pretextual. The principal points of contact between the two films discussed are 'actor' (Michel Subor), 'character' (Bruno Forestier) and 'narrator' (Forestier/Galoup). The use in Beau Travail of Le Petit Soldat is compared with and differentiated from the use of Melville's 'Billy Budd, Sailor'. The conclusion arrived at is that the film-on-film relation can be read as a development of the mirror motif borrowed from Godard by Denis, in order to replace abyssal models of intertextual infinity with the finitudes of abyssal reflexivity. This is to offer a model of pretextuality that is not dependent on privileging the pretext: implicit is the suggestion that Beau Travail and Le Petit Soldat may be read as a single, if hybrid, text.

Type: Article
Title: Good work, little soldier: Text and pretext
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0047244104044240
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/5229
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