Fanny Ardant’s Favorite Reads

The iconic French actress and recipient of two César Awards muses on the link between cinema and literature while sharing a list of her favorite novels.

In Mastermind 15, Fanny Ardant, an icon of French cinema, explore the many reinventions throughout her incredible career. During this exchange Ardant spoke her of love of literature and shared which books are her most beloved.

“In cinema, as in literature, you discover good and evil and forge a much stronger moral sense than any teacher or confessor can give you,” says Ardant. “In the literary form, your mind and heart are on the alert; it’s much stronger and more dangerous because it’s irrational.”

“I read certain novels – Proust, for example – when I was much too young, before I had the keys to life,” Ardant continues. “It’s actually good to read when you’re young; you don’t understand everything, but you’re alerted – you learn to recognize what’s urgent, what’s absolute. It’s like walking through a dark forest without knowing the way, but knowing that it’s a kingdom.”

1. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin

A classic of Russian literature, Eugene Onegin follows the eponymous socialite protagonist as he navigates friendship, love and tragedy.

2. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoesky

Another staple in the canon of Russian literature, The Idiot follows hopeful prince Myshkin as he traverses Russian society. The Idiot provides readers with a dialogue on the difficulty of managing optimism and cynicism.

3. À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time) by Marcel Proust

Considered the quintessential French novel, this epic, seven-volume series recounts the life story of an unnamed narrator living in French high society at the turn of the 20th Century. Enormous (at 1.2million words) and enormously influential, Proust’s magnum opus is a triumphant portrait of the human condition in its full glory and despair.

4. The Complete Works of Marguerite Duras

French novelist, screenwriter, playwright and film director Marguerite Duras gained recognition in her literary career after exploring semi-autobiographical themes in her book L’Amant (The Lover), for which she was awarded the Prix Goncourt. Duras was renowned for her sparse yet illuminating prose, which led to critiques associating her with the “new novel” movement.

5. The Complete Works of Bret Easton Ellis

Best known for his novel American Psycho, Ellis has had a seismic influence on contemporary literature. The Los Angeles-based author explores the darker sides of fame and privilege through psychological considerations of moral issues.

Read the full interview in Mastermind 15, available for purchase here

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