Marina Grishakova and Marie-Laure Ryan, Editors. Intermediality and Storytelling

Article excerpt

Marina Grishakova and Marie-Laure Ryan, editors, Intermediality and Storytelling. Narratologia Contributions to Narrative Theory. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2010. vi + 323 pages.

In the "Editors' Preface" Marina Grishakova and Marie-Laure gyan explain that they chose the word "intermediality" in the title because "it covers any kind of relation between different media" (3). The present collection expands Ryan's earlier Narrative Across Media by treating additional media and placing additional emphasis on relations between media. The editors distinguish two categories of storytelling media, the artistic (words, sound, and images that are the material used by writers, composers, and visual artists) and the technological (channels of communication such as cinema, television, print, electronic books). The relations between and among media that they mention include intermedial reference (texts that thematize, quote, or describe other media), intermedial transposition (adaptation), transmediality (phenomena, including narrative, that can be represented in more than one medium), multimodality (the combination of more than one medium in a given work: e.g., opera, comics, or the words and gestures of oral discourse), and what they call "a generalized form of ekphrasis" (4), perhaps better known as remediation, in which a work in one medium is re-represented in another medium.

Since the collection is devoted to relations between media, it is not surprising that the fourteen essays all, to some degree, are organized as comparisons. Several essays, including those by the two editors, offer comparisons of categories. Ryan looks at the distinction between fiction and nonfiction, approaching the issue from the perspective that the distinction matters because it affects our interpretation of the information offered. Comparing language to the image, she argues that "the judgment of fictionality is most important for language, because language articulates clearly defined propositions that make a truth claim," whereas the image, unlike language, "does not unambiguously force some [specific] features to the attention of spectators at the expense of others" (15). Developing the differences among truth claims from medium to medium, she extends her analysis to photography, film, representational painting, abstraction, architecture, and music, and finds in each an indeterminate zone between fiction and nonfiction. She concludes by recognizing that the general public cares about fictionality in cinema and verbal texts, and that only the theorists "ponder fictionality in painting, architecture, and music" (25).

Also comparing categories, Grishakova differentiates between two types of intermedial representation: the "metaverbal," an attribute of verbal texts that evoke images "to compensate for the lack or inadequacy of verbal information" (314; e.g., the ghosts in Henry James's Turn of the Screw), and the "metavisual," an attribute of images that reflect on the incomplete nature of visual representation (e.g., portraits in which the subject's pose "turns portraits into first-person narratives" [318] or juxtaposed word and image that "reveal their discrepancy" [315]). Paul Cobley compares styles of representation in film, the "neutral" versus the "paranoid" (i.e., a narration made ambiguous by a paranoid focalizer), specifically of the surveillance theme, to propose that the greater use of the paranoid style since 9/11 indicates an increased awareness of the general phenomenon of surveillance. Samuel Ben Israel, developing a distinction in social psychology between the "intrapsychic" and the "relationist" perspective, compares the classical single-protagonist film to the multi-protagonist film. In the former, the primary character's goal-oriented action moves chronologically and causally from conflict to resolution and the character's motivations, which are revealed, offer ethical and ideological implications about who human beings arc. …


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