Aspiring writers are often admonished to “show, not tell,” an instruction that immediately speaks to the relationship between the written word and the visual world. It is a tenuous correspondence—both literature and art are striving toward the same goal of depiction, but the reality they portray is shaped by their chosen tools.
As François Brunet argues in Photography and Literature, the advent of photography posed one of the greatest challenges to writers—here was an artistic medium that could almost instantly distill a scene or perspective. As Brunet shows, the result of this challenge has been a fantastic interplay between the two and between photographers and writers themselves. Photography and Literature assess the complete history of photography, and Brunet begins by examining how the invention of photography was shaped by written culture, both scientific and literary. As well, Brunet looks at the creation of the photo-book, the frequent personal discovery of photography by writers, and how photography and literature eventually began to trade tools and merge formats to create a new photo-textual genre. Highly illustrated, Photography and Literature reflects a photographer’s point of view, giving new attention to such works as the groundbreaking exploration of photography in The Pencil of Nature by William Henry Fox Talbot and Sophie Calle’s projects with Jean Baudrillard and Paul Auster.
Essential for anyone interested in the intersection of the verbal and the visual, Photography and Literature provides a fascinating wealth of autobiography, manifesto, and fiction as well as a variety of images from the first daguerreotypes to the digital age.