“Ce n’est pas elle qu’on voit”: the photograph in the work of Annie Saumont
Poole, S. (2012) “Ce n’est pas elle qu’on voit”: the photograph in the work of Annie Saumont. New Zealand Journal of French Studies, 33 (1). pp. 5-25. ISSN 0110-7380
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The incorporation of ekphrastic evocations of photographs into fictional works is a growing trend charted by (mostly) literary and (occasionally) art critics interested in the effect of their inclusion in a narrative. What has emerged as a veritable affinity of photography with literature has produced a fertile interdisciplinary critical discourse around areas of intersection between visual and verbal. With regard to short fiction, the photograph is often subject to investigation as analogy, the photograph and the short story being considered metonymically related with regard to form and effect. This notion of a structural equivalence between short story and photograph is one stressed by author/photographer Julio Cortàzar, concerned to highlight the quality of intensity he ascribes to both forms, which he saw as ‘cutting out a piece of reality’ in order to ‘breaking out’ into a wider one. Given Annie Saumont’s oft-cited admiration of Cortàzar’s work it is unsurprising that in her own writing – of stories themselves often classed, in their elliptical density, as verbal snapshots – she should take an interest in photographs and/or photographers. This article seeks to explore and analyse different values Saumont ascribes to what was paradoxically described by Barthes as ‘invisible’, in that what we see when viewing a photograph is, (often treacherously), ‘ pas elle qu’on voit’: never, or never solely, the actual object itself …
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