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Enlightening Encounters

Enlightening Encounters: Photography in Italian Literature

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 344
  • Book Info
    Enlightening Encounters
    Book Description:

    Enlightening Encounterstraces the impact of photography on Italian literature from the medium's invention in 1839 to the present day.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6989-5
    Subjects: Art & Art History, Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Photo-Literary Encounters in Italy
    (pp. 3-24)

    The Italian poet, novelist, dramatist, and journalist Gabriele D’Annunzio wrote this to his friend the photographer Mario Nunes Vais at the beginning of the twentieth century. The epistolary note tells of an encounter between a writer and a photographer, as well as of the relationship between literature and photography, product and practice. D’Annunzio himself produced works inspired by photographic images. His writing inspired photographs, and he used the camera as a powerful instrument for aesthetically representing the Self. The lines above also serve as a defence of the camera’s ability to catch and frame nuances and emotions against the more...

  6. Part One: The Lure of Photography

    • 1 Spectres of Photography: Photography, Literature, and the Social Sciences in Fin-de-Siècle Italy
      (pp. 27-50)

      On 7 January 1939, on the hundredth anniversary of photography’s momentous declaration into public existence, Paul Valéry delivered a speech designed to shock the literary world into thinking about photography in a new key. He addressed an academic audience at the Sorbonne, speaking on behalf of the literary Academie Française, and issuing a resounding and unconditional thank you for the services rendered by that “marvellous invention” to the wider “Empire of Letters.” Picking up the conversation that François Arago had opened in front of the French Parliament a hundred years earlier, he began by displaying the same patriotic credentials that...

    • 2 Authoring Images: Italo Calvino, Gianni Celati, and Photography as Literary Art
      (pp. 51-69)

      Art historian Clement Greenberg’s declaration regarding photography is indeed provocative in its suggestion that one of this medium’s most valuable traits may be something more than its obviously visual one. By seeming to represent photography as a lesser art for its literary qualities, Greenberg contradicts the medium’s by now fully established cultural value. If photography were literal, the value of its images would be restricted to the hierarchal sociocultural standing of the “things” they re-present. The qualities assigned to photography by the respected art historian as a vehicle by which history, anecdote, report, and observation are indicative of its literariness,...

    • 3 Fossati’s and Messori’s Vision of Landscape in Viaggio in un paesaggio terrestre
      (pp. 70-98)

      In this essay, I explore a recent phototext,¹Viaggio in un paesaggio terrestre(Journey on an Earthly Landscape) by the photographer Vittore Fossati and the late writer Giorgio Messori, a text that successfully brings together different media, namely photography and writing, and that newly explores the ever-central and recently renewed debate on landscape and its representations. The coexistence of photography and writing in the text can be usefully inscribed within the growing and heterogeneous field of visual culture studies,² which includes interdisciplinary, intermedial, and intersemiotic studies, and, more specifically, within the renewed debate on writing and photography and on the...

  7. Part Two: Photography Structuring Narrative

    • 4 The Fiction of Photography: Vittorio Imbriani’s Merope IV – Sogni e fantasie di Quattr’Asterischi (1867)
      (pp. 101-121)

      Neapolitan writer Vittorio Imbriani (1840–1886) has always been consigned to the fringes of the Italian literary canon, a location cemented by the Italian literary deity Benedetto Croce, who categorized his work as “bizzarrie” (“weirdnesses”).¹ In his lifetime, his reputation as a polemical iconoclast overshadowed both his literary career and, most unfortunately, the publication of his first novel in 1867,Merope IV – Sogni e fantasie di Quattr’ Asterischi(Merope IV – The Dreams and Fantasies of Four Asterisks). Although it is barely known to Italian scholars – let alone to those abroad – Imbriani’s first work is highly unusual in several regards: it...

    • 5 Narrated Photographs and the Collapse of Time and Space in Erri De Luca’s Non ora, non qui
      (pp. 122-138)

      Erri De Luca’sNon ora, non qui(Not Now, Not Here) opens with a bold statement about photography and its relation to time and space. Pondering the large collection of photographs taken by his father during a ten-year period framed by the family’s first prosperity and the loss of his father’s vision, the unnamed protagonist reflects on their documentary status. He states: “Resta così documentata fino al dettaglio una sola età, forse l’unica che sono riuscito a dimenticare. Gli album, gli archivi non mi sorreggono la memoria, invece la sostituiscono” (Thus, only one period remains documented down to the minute...

  8. Part Three: Narrated Photographs and Photographs Narrating

    • 6 Photo-Poems: Visual Impact Strategies and Photo-Story in the Work of Mario Giacomelli and Luigi Crocenzi
      (pp. 141-168)

      In the column “Il giornale dei peccati” (“The Journal of Sins”) in the literary reviewIl Caffè politico e letterario(The Political and Literary Café), Luigi Crocenzi (1923–1984) published a few episodes of a photo-novel between December 1954 and April 1955. The novel – which was never actually completed – was based on a written outline and set in a timeless and culturally hidebound Italian province.¹ One episode in particular, calledUn seminarista(The Seminarian), tells the story of a young man who, bored with life in a seminary, runs away to Rome to throw himself into everyday life in a...

    • 7 What the Writer Saw (and the Camera Didn’t): Antonio Tabucchi’s Notturno indiano and Daniele Del Giudice’s Lo stadio di Wimbledon
      (pp. 169-190)

      In his semiotics, the American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce distinguished among three types of signs: the icon (linked to the object by a relation of similarity), the index (which maintains a relationship of physical connection with the object), and the symbol (which relates to the object according to a conventional code). While Peirce defined the photograph now as an indexical sign, now as an iconic one, and at other times as both at once,¹ since the 1970s a line of theoretical studies has focused on Pierce’s interpretation of photography as an indexical sign, that is, as a material imprint of...

    • 8 Photographs Illustrating and Photographs Telling: Exercises in Reading Lalla Romano and Elio Vittorini
      (pp. 191-214)

      I propose to compare two novels that incorporate photographic images in their pages:Nuovo romanzo di figure(New Novel of Images) (1997) by Lalla Romano andConversazione in Sicilia(Conversations in Sicily) (first published in 1937) by Elio Vittorini. I will reflect on the different relationships that images establish with their respective narrative texts.¹ Considering that these novels offer different montages of photographs and written narrative, I suggest some close readings so as to highlight two different ways of combining photographs with literary text.

      Nuovo romanzo di figureis a novel comprised of photographs taken by Lalla Romano’s father at...

  9. Part Four: Through the Lens

    • 9 Narrative Scopophilia as Seen through the Lens of a Photographic Camera: Intersemiotic Translation and Voyeurism in Alberto Moravia’s L’uomo che guarda (1985)
      (pp. 217-232)

      This chapter analyses a case of photographic practice as a translative process of scopophilia, which is the twofold tendency indicating voyeurism and exhibitionism, in Alberto Moravia’sL’uomo che guarda(The Voyeur). The translative process, understood as the move from a source text (ST) to a target text (TT), occurs within a novel that narrates the story of a voyeur, Dodo, who is a professor of French literature at an unidentified university in Rome. The protagonist is also a hobby photographer and defines himself as a voyeur and as someone who is obsessed with vision. He specifies, “io vivo soprattutto attraverso...

    • 10 Photography into the Limelight: Andrea De Carlo’s Treno di panna
      (pp. 233-253)

      Andrea De Carlo’s experience of working as a photographer had a profound effect on the subject and style of his first published novel, regarded by many critics as his best.Treno di panna(Cream Train) (1981) contains both descriptions of photographs taken by the narrator and an intensive use of photographic analogies, metaphors, similes, and terminology, as well as a meditation on the connection between photography and celebrity. The novel’s protagonist experiences the world in fragments and as surface: a result of the way his camera mediates his relation to experience and the cause of his ultimately fruitless attempt to...

    • 11 Looking through Coloured Shards: Words and Images in Ornela Vorpsi’s Works
      (pp. 254-278)

      We live in a time obsessed by visual images: we remember, imagine, and (re)construct places, objects, people, experiences, and ourselves through images. Photographs, in particular, respond to our desire to stop, frame, and freeze the world, to possess it and secure it in space and time. Yet we live in an era of significant geographical mobility and displacement where notions of space, time, and identities are also constantly called into question in relation to the way we perceive ourselves and others visually. By the recording, display, and narration of personal and collective experiences of travel, migration, and exile, every day...

  10. Writing with Light: Concluding Remarks
    (pp. 279-284)

    Daguerre’s success in fixing camera obscura images reached Italy between February and June 1839 through popular journals such asIl Messaggiere Torinese,La Fama, andIl Politecnico. The announcement of the new technology that came to be known as photography triggered a new literary trend: photography began supplementing and supporting literary narratives, especially through its claims to objectivity and reality. Scientific writing and then literary forms made sense of, complemented, and extended the cultural significance of this new means of visual recording. Although at times, as with any other word–image relation, photography and literature have been characterized by a...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 285-308)
  12. Contributors
    (pp. 309-312)
  13. Index
    (pp. 313-328)