Chaos Theory, Complexity, Cinema and the Evolution of the French Novel

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This study takes a new view of the history of the French novel, that the evolution of the novel has been toward cinema, based on chaos and complexity theories. In its attempt to break away from the frozen forms of hierarchical thought inherent in the Monarchy and the Bourgeoisie, to engender a new order of thought, novels developed techniques and structures such as fragmentation, doublings, flashbacks, or metaphorical representations that are cinematic because they engender a sense of spatial and temporal simultaneity, whereas the traditional novel is condemned to the linearity of words. This evolution is significant because the new techniques suspend the readers' habitual frame of reference and engage them in a consideration of new relationships. The chapter treating each author begins with the main known reason for the adaptation, then an overview of the novel itself. Thereafter, the techniques of cinema that effectively convey the same message are explored and compared to the literary techniques, followed by a consideration of the failures and the cinematic potential of the literary model.
Works include: Diderot's The Nun ; Laclos' Dangerous Liaisons ; Stendhal's The Red and the Black ; Zola's Nana ; Proust's Swann in Love ; Bernanos' Mouchette ; Duras' The Lover. Available at a special price for text use.


“For undergraduates embarking on courses in French fiction as film, this will be a useful addition to the reading list. The introduction helpfully sets out ways in which fiction and film provoke and resolve questions. . . This is a clearly-written introduction which will ensure that the basics are right.” – Forum for Modern Language Studies (Oxford Journals)

"This book defines a comprehensive new approach to change processes. It should be read by anyone interested in human behavior and change. Its application of chaos and complexity theories to French novels and films provides contextually understandable, coherent examples of such phenomena." - Loren R. Mosher

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