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Les Variations Jarmusch

Esther Heboyan

Partie I. Jim Jarmusch, perspectives et (dis)continuités / Jim Jarmusch, perspectives and (dis)continuities

Appearing through others: the intertextual self-portraits of Jim Jarmusch

Alexander Davis

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“I just take the things I’m attracted to and weave them into something of my own.”
Jim Jarmusch, 20001

Two Japanese teens, red suitcase hung between them, dressed in, respectively, punk and Beat attire, are walking down Chaucer Street on their way to Sun Records. For anyone reading this volume, this image is, most likely, immediately recognizable as a key frame from Mystery Train. Residents of Memphis, Tennessee, the film’s setting, however, might find it perplexing given the fact that there is no actual Chaucer Street in Memphis2. While Chaucer has obvious structural relevance for the film – both narratives are short stories centered around a specific locus – Jarmusch chalks it up to simple preference: “I was thinking about literary forms and I was very interested in Chaucer”, and “there are a lot of streets in Memphis named after poets. Quite a few. Chaucer wasn’t one of them, though”3. Similarly, in 1984’s Stranger Than Paradise, Willie (portrayed by John Lurie) asks his fri...


Tisch School of the Arts, New York

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