The Cinema House and the World
The Cahiers du Cinema Years, 1962–1981
616 pp., 6 x 9 in,
- Published: September 6, 2022
- Publisher: Semiotext(e)
One of the greatest film critics of his generation on topics ranging from the auteur approach of the French New Wave to a more structural examination of film.
One of the greatest film critics of his generation, Serge Daney wrote for Cahiers du Cinéma before becoming a journalist for the daily newspaper Libération. The writings collected in this volume reflect Daney's evolving interests, from the auteur approach of the French New Wave to a more structural examination of film, psychoanalysis, and popular culture.
Openly gay throughout his lifetime, Daney rarely wrote explicitly about homosexuality but his writings reflect a queer sensibility that would influence future generations. In regular intellectual exchanges with Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, and Roland Barthes, Daney wrote about cinema autobiographically, while lyrically analyzing the transition from modern cinema to postmodern media. A noted polymath, Daney also published books about tennis and Haiti's notorious Duvalier regime. His criticism is open and challenging, polyvocal and compulsively readable.
Serge Daney was the end of criticism as I understood it.
Serge Daney was the key French film critic of his era. His untimely death in 1992 at 48, from AIDS, robbed international cinema of its most important critical voice. Despite his achievements as a writer and editor, little of Daney's work has been published in English. The Cinema House and the World: The Cahiers du Cinéma Years, 1962–1981 covers Daney's years as a contributor and editor at the magazine that launched the French New Wave. It is about time English-language readers had access to the full range of Daney's thought and his unparalleled work on cinema. His prose, with its keen insights into individual films and the cinema as concept and practice, is original and transformative, a must-read for serious cinephiles and anyone else who believes in the ongoing tale of cinema.
A. S. Hamrah
Perched well above cinema studies, Serge Daney wrote and spoke of films in thrilling sentences, unrivalled in insight, moral fervor and sheer genius. Easily the best critic of his day.
Dudley Andrew, Yale University
Serge Daney knew something about cinema that no one else knew.
The Cinema House and the World is filled with a sense of Daney's live-wire excitement, not in regard to his experience of viewing flms but, rather, from the pleasure of his own thought process. There's nothing egocentric or bombastic in this delight. Daney never positions himself above or ahead of flms; he approaches them and keeps some distance. The book is wildly quotable and fervently memorable...Daney was an institutionalist who primed the terrain for future flmmakers, whose ideas were validated not by his flms but by the flms of others. Through his own work and in the publications that he invigorated and preserved, he cultivated and inspired critics who would perpetuate the stringent and self-questioning Cahiers legacy that also lives on in the best of French cinema.
The New Yorker
Daney was the most significant writer to emerge from the generational milieu that gave rise to the French New Wave...Our own era is eager to beautify or sensationalize suffering, but Daney offers a different vision, best exemplified by his active gaze. He insists that we take the image seriously as not just a productive way of looking at art, but as a way of better understanding our own place in life.
What Daney's writing grants us that was so often absent among many of his better-known, more doctrinaire peers, is a prolonged view onto both the inseparability and the perpetual uneasiness between the demands of art and those of politics. The newly translated volume traces Daney's path from a young contributor at Cahiers, to the guiding voice and editor of the publication, to a reviewer (very often of tennis matches) for the newspaper Libération. Yet the story the collection tells is also of the evolution of Cahiers as a broader intellectual barometer: from champion of a pure filmic medium, to instrument of revolutionary politics, to a site of leftist disenchantment.
Jeffrey West Kirkwood
Thirty years after his death, Daney's revenant presence offers a most welcome disquietude.
Daney's approach to cinema as a global art, his protean set of interests, his applications of philosophical concepts, and his autobiographical bent made him particularly equipped to be the critic in the age of images...Serge Daney and modern cinema: they defined each other.