Corporeality and Otherness in the Cinematic Heterotopias of Szabolcs Hajdu’s Bibliothèque Pascal (2010)

Katalin SÁNDOR


The paper deals with the representation of bodies and corporeality in Hajdu Szabolcs’s film, Bibliothèque Pascal (2010). The film foregrounds the female body as a discursive, ideologically inscribed site of power relations, as a (biological) entity defined by social practices and by the ongoing negotiation of gendered, ethnic and cultural identities. In Hajdu’s film the female body is trapped within heterotopic spaces (Foucault)—the in-between zones, the “other spaces” (i. e. train, brothel, fair) of cultural and also medial differences. The brothel and the library are folded into an unsettling heterotopia in which the bodies—often imported from Eastern Europe—re-enact the canonical texts of European literature as living books and tableau vivants. In the hierarchical space of the brothel both corporeality and textuality are instrumentalized in the interest of sexual gratification and fantasies of dominance. Besides questioning the mechanisms of objectifying the body and subjectivity, and bringing up the problem of corporeality, gendered and ethnic otherness, or trafficking in human beings within a woman’s story, the film can also be addressed as the narrativization and the rethinking of the ideologically embedded relations between the East and the West. The paper examines the representation of the female body at the intersection of complex gendered, cultural and (inter)medial relations and the way this representation shapes the “body” of the film.

Keywords: Corporeality, heterotopia, cinematic tableau vivant, Szabolcs Hajdu, Bibliothèque Pascal.