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Herve Guibert is a person best acknowledged as France’s best writer of AIDS narratives. His scholarly corpus includes, nonetheless, fifteen discourses in which AIDS is not explicitly the issue. Additionally, his work is comprised of auto fictions as well as novels. There are two main collections of photographs that Herve Guibert has to his name. These are the Le Seul Visage that was published in 1984, and the Photographies that was published in 1993. Furthermore, he contributed to the photography column of Le Monde for a period of approximately ten years. Unlike most of his former works, Herve Guibert also put forward a feature well known as L’Image fantome (Minnuit, 1981).
There are several reasons why the collection L’Image fantome can be said to constitute a narrative about Herve Guibert himself. One of the key reasons is that the author uses text in this discourse to discuss photography, which is his passion. He further establishes it as a key thematic preoccupation where he reveals to the audience how intimately he is bound up with both desire and writing.
L’Image fantome is a book that is comprised of sixty four sections all of which bear a title. Most of its pages are haunted by the ghosts of Roland Bathes, who is one of Guibert’s acquaintances from the la chamber Claire. From the feature, readers can see how the works of Roland Bathes par lui-meme exerted a significant level of influence on the writings of L’image fantome collection. Herve later confirmed these assumptions in an interview.
Again, the content of L’Image fantome collection also reveals yet another circumstance, without which the writings would probably never have been written. The content show the importance of Guibert’s work as a journalist on Had, Cinema, Vingt Ans, Les Nouvelles Litteraires and Combat. It was during his career between 1973 and 1977 that his ability as a writer was greatly developed. Similarly, his work as a photographic critic on the feature Le Monde from the year 1977 to 1985 played a great role in inspiring the essay in the L’Image fantome collection.
In ‘Les photos preferees Guibert, who is also the narrator of the feature speaks of the time when he wrote a segment on topical issues for a magazine article and discovered photography. This decoys the reader to think of Vingt Ans. In other parts of the L’Image fantome, most of the texts are founded on the remarks of ‘La Retouchese’ which is put forward on direct speech. This section reveals to its audience about a time during Guibert’s career, where he conducted interviews for the Le Monde. The other story that also seems to have inspired his writings on the fantome collection is the ‘Suite serie, sequence.
A close evaluation of Herve Guibert’s career reveals that it is his job throughout his career that has enabled him to uniquely position himself through the feature L’Image fantome. For instance, through his role as a photographic critic, Guibert was able to have access some of the greatest photographers at the time. He also had a chance to interview them and relate with them in various dimensions. Having had to critique the works of such personalities not only sharpened his acumen in photography it also inspired and expanded his knowledge base. L’Image fantome collection is in fact enriched by the roles, duties and activities that was undertaken during Le Monde.
Thus, the feature ‘L’autoportrait’ shows how extensive Herve Guibert’s knowledge was. The content also demonstrates with what ease and certain grasp of detail Guibert writes about works of great photographers. Even at the scope and level of writing, it is hard for one to be a photographic critic for approximately nine years without suffering some level of ‘deformation professionnelle’ i.e. a form of job conditioning. In the stories put forward in the L’Image fantome collection this blue print is displayed in respect to both newspaper style of writing as well as in regards to the length of articles Guibert writes in the collection. Herve’s journalistic stamp can easily be encountered throughout the stories written in the L’Image fantome collection.
Moreover, the collection L’Image fantome can be thought of as Herve Guibert personal narration because of the use of close personalities that he encountered throughout his career. As a photographic critic, Guibert duties and responsibilities enabled him to frequent not only people known to be great photographers, but also great film stars, French intelligentsia as well as movie directors. At a glance of his film stars encounters, list of Le Monde bibliography shows the names of people such as Brigitte Bardot, Isabelle Adjan, Gerard Depardieu, and Gina Lollobrigida among other stars. What is remarkable about these people is that, apart from Brigitte Bardot, most of these people were utilized in his L’Image fantome feature.
The scope and diversity of his work was such that Herve used characters such as Gerard Depardieu in the Les Lubies d’Arthur article as Arthur at a fictional/ imaginary level. There is hardly any doubt for example, the photographer ‘D.S’ only asks Herve to do his portrait because the latter loved his previous displays and exhibitions and probably wrote about it. The outcome of this request thus gave rise to an act of writing well known as ‘La séance’ Several work remains to be done, utilizing Pierre Bourdeu’s evaluations, on this encounter between Herve Guibert and contemporary culture as illustrated by these Le Monde articles.
In ‘Adjani ou les vertus de l’exces’ which is one of the articles comprised in L’Image fantome collection, another personal narration of Herve Guibert is illustrated again. This article provides an interesting example of what the critical writings of Guibert can achieve. The article bestows an opportunity to display how his critical writings can supplement and complement his work. Through words, the narrator attempted to paint Adjani with words on a physical and spiritual portrait. Here, Guibert began textually painting her from her eyes. He then described here skin then explored the quality of her voice before finally delving onto her body. The portrait displayed here is in fact more like a camera image tracking out i.e. everything explained on the image plays on color. In Adjani’s case Herve Guibert accounts it on the basis of whiteness.
He then turns to her films where the narrator wonders why he likes Adjani; he admitted that his preference to Adjani as a model was for her feminine features. Every time she appeared between lines she bestowed substance in turn Nastassia Philipovna, Charlotte, and she hardly ever let her writings down. From this description, it can be deduced that Adjani played a relevant role in inspiring a novelistic imagination to the Herve Guibert not only at the level of imagined characters who he reads and loves, but also via being a writerly factor herself in his own pieces of work as a writer. The personal narrations of Herve Guibert is again highlighted through Adjani in the L’Image fantome collection where some people claim that she inspired the article, ‘Marine in A l’ami’.
As discussed, Adjani ou les vertus de l’exce is a portrait that was textually painted by words. To a certain extent this discourse provided groundwork for the L’Image fantome collection to be formulated. This is because the collection presents a summation of a series of photograph that is taken by words. This therefore instigates the question whether the photographic critic work of Le Monde’s and that of the writer L’Image fantome are one and the same thing.
In the review of L’Image fantome, Christian Caujolle states that through this feature a restoration of all the sensitive reaction can neither be displayed nor uttered in journalistic criticism. According to Caujolle, the image created in the fantome collection epitomizes the story L’Image cancereuse where the images are not created; rather it is recomposed in reverse, adjacent to the skin. Of all the attributes in the L’Image fantome collection, this attribute is the most significant analogy. This is because the writer presents a narration of his personal life through composing texts and photography in reverse. Here, most of his compositions are demonstrated as mediation of writings where he focuses on writing on the self. On the back cover he adds an unsigned text that speaks of ‘une suite de recits’. As aforementioned, the length and style of the texts used in this collection represents the journalistic criticism comprised in the Le Monde articles.
Boule, J., Herve Voices of Self, Liverpool, Liverpool University Press, 2009
Foley, J.M. (ed.), a Companion to Ancient Epic, Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.
Hughes, A. & Noble, A., Phototextualities: REPLACEions of Photography and Narratives, New Delhi, UNM Press, 2012
Hughes, A., Reading Guibert’s L’Image Fantome/ reading Desire, New York, Taylor and Francis, Inc., 2008
Ratnagar, S., Trading Encounters: From the Euphrates to the Indus in the Bronze Age, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2004