Reference : Frozen Moments: The Motif of the Photograph in the work of Anne Carson and Michael On...
Parts of books : Contribution to collective works
Arts & humanities : Literature
http://hdl.handle.net/2268/31485
Frozen Moments: The Motif of the Photograph in the work of Anne Carson and Michael Ondaatje
English
Burkitt, Katharine [Université de Liège - ULg > Département des langues et littératures modernes > Département des langues et littératures modernes >]
2010
Writing with Light: Words and Photographs in American Texts
Gidley, Mick
Peter Lang
American Studies: Culture Society and the Arts - Volume 3. Editor Sharon Zamir
223-241
978-3-03911-572-3
Bern
Switzerland
[en] Literature & Photography ; Poetic Form ; Michael Ondaatje; Anne Carson
[en] Anne Carson’s verse-novel Autobiography of Red locates itself on the ambivalent margins of myth and memory, interpretation and representation. As a text that is already fraught with its own generic ambiguity it draws attention to different modes of representation through its engagement with literature and photography. Carson presents her protagonist’s photographs through lyrical interludes which evoke visual representation but remain fixed within the poetic context. Through these photographs Geryon narrates his own monstrosity. He is both a homosexual young man and the monster from the myth of Herakles and the text’s preoccupation with his abject difference demonstrates a postcolonial standpoint which is based on an exploration of physical ‘otherness’. Each photograph becomes a space to explore the way in which physical presence is represented visually as well as through language. Thus, the text juxtaposes poetry and photography to explore the politics and traditions of artistic genres; furthermore Autobiography of Red demonstrates the friction that is produced when the static form of the photograph is offset with a bildungsroman narrative.

Therefore, in Carson’s text a photograph is not just ‘a bunch of light hitting a plate,’ as the verse-novel itself and the title of this paper, suggests. Such a notion implies immediacy and stasis, whereas in Autobiography of Red the disparate formation of multiple photographic interludes evinces narrative progression, albeit in an unconventional mode. In order to consider Carson’s paradoxical narrative form, I will take into account theoretical engagements with literature and photography, including Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida. Therefore this paper will draw attention to the way in which the poet harnesses the incongruous poetic form of the verse-novel, coupled with evocations of photographs, to narrate the postcolonial history of her monstrous protagonist. I will also explore the way in which Autobiography of Red uses its self-conscious textuality in order to explore the unreliable nature of memory and narrative in the construction of identity and argue that it is through these engagements with genre and form, as well as allusions to myths, literature, and photography, that Carson demonstrates the unsteady bases that form personal and social identities in the contemporary world.
Researchers ; Professionals ; Students
http://hdl.handle.net/2268/31485

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