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CinepoetryImaginary Cinemas in French Poetry$
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Christophe Wall-Romana

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823245482

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823245482.001.0001

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Jean Epstein's Invention of Cinepoetry

Jean Epstein's Invention of Cinepoetry

(p.112) (p.113) Chapter Four Jean Epstein's Invention of Cinepoetry

Christophe Wall-Romana

Fordham University Press

This chapter addresses the early experimental and theoretical works of Jean Epstein (1897-1953) who later became an influential silent era filmmaker. In Today's Poetry, a New Mindset (1921), Bonjour cinéma (1922) and Lyrosophy (1922), as well as essays published in the international avant-garde journal L’Esprit nouveau in 1921, Epstein articulated a theory of modernist literature as fundamentally permeated by the cinema. Modernism, he argues, responded to the same psycho-physiological condition as pulp novels and serial films: perceptual fatigue and sensorial blockages (coenesthesis). French modernist poets and American filmmakers, he added, deployed their new esthetics in parallel, and he called for the ‘superposition’ of poetry and cinema. The theory he limns out, based of embodiment and mass culture, precedes and perhaps influenced a similar approach by Walter Benjamin, who likely read his work. Already in 1921, Epstein had recuperated Guillaume Apollinaire's coinage, ‘surréalisme,’ to denote this new cinepoetics of the postwar. This detailed and remarkably original theory of modernist poetry as refracting specific features of film esthetics has yet to be integrated into the contemporary canon of poetry criticism.

Keywords:   Jean Epstein, La Poésie d’aujourd’hui, un nouveal état d’intelligence, Bonjour cinéma, La Lyrosophie, Coenesthesis, Fatigue, Subconscious, Mass culture, Subliterature, Surrealism

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