Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Image Technologies in Canadian Literature: Narrative, Film, and Photography

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Image Technologies in Canadian Literature: Narrative, Film, and Photography

Article excerpt

Carmen Concilio and Richard J. Lane (eds), Image Technologies in Canadian Literature: Narrative, Film, and Photography (Brussels: Peter Lang, 2009) 164pp. Paper. £27.50. ISBN 978-90-5201-474-6.

This engaging, if slim, volume explores the significance of film and photography within Canadian literary narratives. 'Image technologies', state the editors, 'permeate Canadian literature to the point of merging and blending with written texts so as to create hybrid, complex works of art' (p. 11). The eight essays collected here (by Canadian and Italian scholars) each assess the implications of the 'merging and blending' of the visual world and the written word as it plays out in texts by authors including Michael Ondaatje, Ann- Marie MacDonald, Robert Kroetsch and Daphne Marlatt. (One film, the 1965 NFB documentary Ladies and Gentlemen Mr Leonard Cohen is also examined.) The result is a worthwhile collection that paves the way for future research in this exciting field.

In a rather diffuse introductory essay, Carmen Concilio sets out the scope of the volume via an analysis of the importance of photography in Ondaatje's most recent novel Divisadero and his earlier texts. Three essays dedicated to Ondaatje's work may seem excessive in an eight-essay collection, and they do serve to unbalance the volume somewhat. Nonetheless, the following two pieces on Ondaatje by Lucia Boldrini and Jeffrey Orr avoid repetition and complement each other (and Concilio's introduction) in interesting ways. Boldrini's 'The Anamorphosis of Photography' explores the slippery relationship between written text and image(s) in The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, while Orr insightfully addresses a range of Ondaatje texts through the concept of 'intersemiotic translation', examining the negotiations between the visual and the verbal in Coming Through Slaughter, Running in the Family, In the Skin of a Lion and The English Patient. …

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