AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Aperture and Exposure: The Photography of Literature

by Elena Peregrina

Institution: Princeton University
Department: Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures
Degree: PhD
Year: 2015
Keywords: Archive; Contingency; Fiction; Literature; Memory; Photography; Literature
Record ID: 2059200
Full text PDF: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01fj236434j


This dissertation considers the interplay between literature and photography as point of departure to articulate and reflect on issues such as memory, the archive, and the fantastic, as well as the limits of verbal (and visual) communication as representational modes. Comprised of three case studies, representative works by Julio Cortázar, Antonio Muñoz Molina and Javier Marias, this dissertation seeks to discern the specificities of photography as a motor for fiction, while it examines the ways in which photographs, either as a metaphor, as a reference or as images included in the texts, impact writing at the level of language. The first case study, "The Contingent Camera: Cortázar's on the limits of language and the ethics of seeing", focus on Cortázar's writing on photography and short stories, and inquires on the paradoxical relationship between photography's analogical nature and the fantastic. It argues that the interplay between literature and photography allows Cortázar to explore how literary writing can mirror the fast pace imposed by technological developments in the realm of communications, and poses questions on the possible consequences (ethical and political) of the use of technology and writing. "Opening Pandora's box: Antonio Muñoz Molina's photographic archive", the second case study, analyzes how photographic archives in Muñoz Molina's novels trigger a never-ending narration where private and collective memories intertwine with the work of fiction. The irruption of fiction enabled by the photographs ultimately leads to a revaluation of the concept of memory and its relation to history, where the past -understood as a ghostly presence- continues to interfere in the unfinished archival project of the present. Finally, "The portrait of Literature: Javier Marias and The Realm of Redonda" examines Javier Marías' uses of photography as a vestige of nonfictional aspects, in order to question the limits of fictional and nonfictional representations of historical references, events and characters, and as a introduction to a reflection on the self and time.