Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight : A Philosophical Exploration book cover
1st Edition

Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight
A Philosophical Exploration

ISBN 9780367204396
Published May 13, 2021 by Routledge
226 Pages

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Book Description

Richard Linklater’s celebrated Before trilogy chronicles the love of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) who first meet up in Before Sunrise, later reconnect in Before Sunset and finally experience a fall-out in Before Midnight. Not only do these films present storylines and dilemmas that invite philosophical discussion, but philosophical discussion itself is at the very heart of the trilogy.

This book, containing specially commissioned chapters by a roster of international contributors, explores the many philosophical themes that feature so vividly in the interactions between Céline and Jesse, including:

  • the nature of love, romanticism and marriage
  • the passage and experience of time
  • the meaning of life
  • the art of conversation
  • the narrative self
  • gender
  • death

Including an interview with Julie Delpy in which she discusses her involvement in the films and the importance of studying philosophy, Before Sunrise. Before Sunset. Before Midnight: A Philosophical Exploration is essential reading for anyone interested in philosophy, aesthetics, gender studies, and film studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction Hans Maes and Katrien Schaubroeck

1. The Poetry of Day-to-Day Life Michael Smith

2. Time and Transcendence in the Before Trilogy Marya Schechtman

3. A Trilogy of Melancholy: On the bittersweet in Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight Hans Maes

4. ‘Relational vertigo’ in Before Midnight Christopher Cowley

5. Epic Intimacy Murray Smith

6. ‘Romantic or Cynic’: Romantic Attraction as Justification Diane Jeske

7. The Many Faces of Conversation in the Before Trilogy Kalle Puolakka

8. Love, Death and Life’s Summum Bonum: The Before Trilogy as Memento Mori Anna Christina Ribeiro

9. Falling in Love with a Film (Series) Katrien Schaubroeck and Hans Maes

10. Romance, Narrative, and the Sense of a Happy Ending in the Before Series James MacDowell

"We Are Everything and We Are Nothing." An interview with Julie Delpy Hans Maes and Katrien Schaubroeck.


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Hans Maes is Senior Lecturer in History and Philosophy of Art at the University of Kent, UK, and the author of Conversations on Art and Aesthetics (2017).

Katrien Schaubroeck is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, and the author of The Normativity of What We Care About (2013).


"No matter how in love you were at 20, no matter how beautiful it was at 30, no matter how conflicted you were at 40: you are going to die. This is the sad reality for all of us. It is revolting, it is upsetting, it is wrong, it is unfair. But it is the human condition."

Julie Delpy, actor and screenwriter of the Before trilogy