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Off to the PicturesCinemagoing, Women's Writing and Movie Culture in Interwar Britain$
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Lisa Stead

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780748694884

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748694884.001.0001

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Wander, Watch, Repeat: Jean Rhys and Cinema

Wander, Watch, Repeat: Jean Rhys and Cinema

(p.93) Chapter 4 Wander, Watch, Repeat: Jean Rhys and Cinema
Off to the Pictures

Lisa Stead

Edinburgh University Press

This explores how modernist literature in the late 1920s and in the 1930s engaged with and conceptualised cinema culture, focusing on Jean Rhys’s early novels as a case study. It first examines her attention to urban geography and female movement, considering how she mapped city spaces through cinema visits. Rhys’s novels use cinema sites to construct a layered geography of memory and present experience for her female characters, mediated through locally specific choices in cinema venues. Second, it considers the relationship between Rhys’s literary style and cinema, considering how her early fiction forged intermedial connections between cinematic and literary techniques to describe these cinematic encounters and interconnect them with wider concerns in her fictions about the performative nature of women’s public bodily presence within the urban environment. Third, it considers Rhys’s use of certain types of cinematic texts and genres as a way of reflecting back on these issues, considering the relationship between genre structures and their modes of cinematic exhibition, and Rhys’s careful structuring of the everyday experiences of her heroines. Here, the chapter explores how Rhys’s references to comedy and serial films especially opened up a unique vantage point on women, visibility and value.

Keywords:   cities, cinemagoing, modernism, space, memory, genre, flaneuse, seriality, bodies, public space

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