Récrire l'Amérique: La peinture d'Edward Hopper mise en fiction

Translated title of the contribution: Rewriting America: Edward Hopper's painting used in fiction

Simone Grossman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The novels Les enfants de Manhattan by Marie-Jeanne Méoule (Québec, L'instant même, 2006) and L'arrière-saison (Paris, Éditions Julliard, 2002) by Philippe Besson are inspired by Edward Hopper's well-known paintings Nighthawks (1942) and Western Motel (1957). In Besson's novel, a woman in a red dress, a playwright, awaits her lover at the Nighthawks' diner, the coffee counter like a scene from a play in starkly conservative, puritanical America of the 1920s. In "Eddy," Méoule casts Hopper himself, through the Mohawk Indian, a onetime highrise construction worker turned window washer after an accident. Seated at Phillies with his woman, he faces a man in suit and fedora accompanied by an auburn-haired woman also dressed in red, an obvious reduplication of Nighthawks. In Méoule's "Georgia," the heroine is Hopper's friend Georgia O'Keefe. In the middle of the New Mexican desert she sees an aged American Indian materialize from the landscape. This examination of works by two non-American fiction writers points up their differing narrative re-interpretations of Hopper's paintings. Affirming the socio-critical significance of Nighthawks, replete with a stubbornly pessimistic view of 1940's America, Besson portrays decay in a Hopperian vision redolent of that time. This critique imbues America's existential malaise with negative aspects like Hopper's alienation and solitude. The same painting seen from Méoule's québécois perspective reflects on men's lives in the New World and suggests a subversive aboriginal resurgence in North America.

Translated title of the contributionRewriting America: Edward Hopper's painting used in fiction
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)123-137
Number of pages15
JournalEtudes Francaises
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010


Dive into the research topics of 'Rewriting America: Edward Hopper's painting used in fiction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this