Volume 11, Issue 4 — September 2021 | The Inaugural Issue

This issue inaugurates a new version of Fiction and Film for French Historians, founded by Liana Vardi and Howard Brown in 2010, and continued by Liana Vardi as Fiction and Film for Scholars of France since 2012. Our new title, Imaginaries, signals the engagement of past and present through arts that offer ways of speaking about the world not always available to historians, critics, or journalists and which broaden our perspectives. Our full title highlights the geographic breadth long visible on this site that we mean to build on, addressing arts from and about all parts of the world with which France has interacted and treating different peoples and places as equal partners in constructing and imagining past(s) and present(s). Imaginaries broadens this site’s reach in terms of genre by taking on new media, like games and podcasts, and more kinds of traditional media, such as museum exhibitions and plays. Finally, we still hope to serve readers looking for fictions they might use in the classroom but aspire, as well, to suggest how more imaginary depictions are, in that classic phrase, simply “good to think with.”  In other words, how do novels, films, plays, video games, and other sorts of representations enhance our engagement with the complex world before us?

Appropriately enough, this inaugural issue looks backward and forward, continuing the project begun by FFSF last year of considering how pandemics past speak to the crises of Covid-19. Charles Forsdick’s essay on J.M.G. Le Clézio’s La Quarantaine, about quarantine and contagion in Mauritius between the 1850s and 1980s, and Richard Keller’s reflection on Fred Vargas’ Pars vite et reviens tard/ Have Mercy on Us All, a policier about a threat of bubonic plague in contemporary Paris, emphasize the impact of disease on our perceptions of the wider world. Pascal Gagné’s survey of shifting notions of AIDS and intimacy in French films since 1992, and Daniel Maroun’s account of Hervé Guibert’s autobiographical fiction, To the Friend Who Didn’t Save My Life, about the writer’s slow coming to terms with his AIDS diagnosis, focus on how disease shapes individual subjectivity. Collectively, these essays consider how others grappled with the fear and uncertainty of epidemics by re-imagining them and, hopefully, give us conceptual tools with which to make sense of what we are still living through.

In signing off, let me acknowledge Liana Vardi’s creation of a site devoted to fictions, praise David Smith’s patient assistance throughout our editorial transition, and welcome Corine Labridy as assistant editor. Corine has already made an immense contribution by redesigning the website. My warm thanks to everyone for making Imaginaries possible.


J. M. G. Le Clézio, La Quarantaine: Literature, Contagion, Confinement, by Charles Forsdick, University of Liverpool

Pandemic Fear: Fred Vargas, Pars vite et reviens tard / Have Mercy on Us All, translated by David Bellos, by Richard C. Keller, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Séduction et sida dans le cinéma français, by Pascal Gagné, University of Ottawa

Death and Disease: Revisiting Hervé Guibert’s To the Friend Who Didn’t Save My Life, by Daniel Maroun, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign