Godard's Le Mepris, Penelope and the Odyssey

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Abstract

This article discusses the engagement of Jean Luc Godard’s 1963 film Le Mépris (Contempt) with the Odyssey, through several intermediaries, namely: the novel it is based on, Alberto Moravia’s Il Disprezzo (1954); James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922); and Roberto Rossellini’s 1954 film Viaggio in Italia. Seen in the context of the emergent and complex feminism of the New Wave, this essay considers whether Godard’s film amounts to a Penelopean view of the Odyssey. Like all three of his model texts, Godard reads the Odyssey as a story about marriage, and thus must consider the interpretation of Penelope a focal point. But Godard’s outlook for the success of modern marriage is bleak, as is his assessment of modernity’s ability to live up to ancient ideals.

Details

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of the Classical Tradition
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 13 May 2015