Anti-anti-fidelity: Truffaut, Roché, Shakespeare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay argues that the now orthodox negative response within adaptation studies to the concept of fidelity needs more thought, particularly when applied to non-Hollywood cinemas, like the French New Wave, in which questions of literary value were central to contemporary debates surrounding the emergence of new aesthetics of film. It offers an account of the idea of fidelity as it manifested itself in the work of François Truffaut, from his early career as a critic attacking the literary inauthenticity of the cinema de qualité, to the first stages of his own adaptation of Henri-Pierre Roché’s novel Jules et Jim, subsequent collaboration with screenwriter Jean Gruault, and eventual production of the film. It argues that Truffaut’s use and then abandonment of the term can be understood as part of a rhetoric of affectivity that links his difficult childhood to professional success, and suggests that the literary values that presided over both are preserved, paradoxically, in the emergence of Shakespeare rather than Roché as a marker of the film’s complex fidelity to its own contemporary moment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
VolumeEarly online
Issue numbern/a
Early online date21 Mar 2013
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


  • Fidelity
  • anti-fidelity
  • Truffaut
  • Henri-Pierre Roché
  • Shakespeare
  • New Wave
  • Cold War Europe

Cite this