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Look Inside Realism, Photography and Nineteenth-Century Fiction

Realism, Photography and Nineteenth-Century Fiction


Part of Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture

  • Date Published: May 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521885256

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About the Authors
  • This fascinating account of the relationship between photography and literary realism in Victorian Britain draws on detailed readings of photographs, writings about photography, and fiction by Charles Dickens, George Eliot and Oscar Wilde. While other critics have argued that photography defined what would be 'real' for literary fiction, Daniel A. Novak demonstrates that photography itself was associated with the unreal - with fiction and the literary imagination. Once we acknowledge that manipulation was essential rather than incidental to the project of nineteenth-century realism, our understanding of the relationship between photography and fiction changes in important ways. Novak argues that while realism may seem to make claims to particularity and individuality, both in fiction and in photography, it relies much more on typicality than on perfect reproduction. Illustrated with many photographs, this book represents an important contribution to current debates on the nature of Victorian realism.

    • A thorough analysis of the relationship between photography and literature in the nineteenth century
    • Illustrated with over 40 Victorian photographs
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… the strength of the book is in the way that it causes one to think differently about what is 'typical' of Victorian photographic practice and how its first subjects regarded it. Novak persuades that the Victorian camera - like Facebook today - was an instrument of fiction as much as fact, of abstraction as much as personalisation, not the petrification of a 'frozen moment' but the production of a technology as fluid as the writer's pen.' Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik

    'Novak's … achievement is to highlight a neglected vein of nineteenth-century literature and visual culture, one that makes sense of some of the most important yet eccentric masterpieces of the era and positions them crucially as an alternative approach to the question of realism.' Novel: A Forum on Fiction

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2008
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521885256
    • length: 252 pages
    • dimensions: 254 x 178 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.66kg
    • contains: 42 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: 'detestable introductions'
    1. Missing persons and model bodies: Victorian photographic figures
    2. Composing the novel body: re-membering the body and the text in Little Dorrit
    3. A model Jew: 'literary photography' and the Jewish body in Daniel Deronda
    4. Sexuality in the age of technological reproducibility: Wilde, identity, and photography
    After-image: surviving the photograph
    Select bibliography.

  • Author

    Daniel A. Novak, Louisiana State University
    Daniel A. Novak is Assistant Professor of English at Louisiana State University.

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