Terry Pitts writes, â€œAlmost from the moment its invention was made public in 1839, photography embraced death. I immediately think of French artist Hippolyte Bayard who, in 1840, famously made a self-portrait as a drowned man. Nineteenth century commercial photographers quickly discovered there was a business to be had making portraits of the newly deceased – usually posed to look as if they were sleeping. Not surprisingly, the act of leafing through a photograph album or discovering a cache of family photographs is a staple (more often a clichÃ©) of literature.â€
This is the latest post in a blog on literature and book collecting, with an emphasis on W.G. Sebald and novels with embedded photographs.
â€œI have inherited a double tradition, of silence and bereavement, where the dead, still everywhere present after twenty, thirty, or fifty years, appear only in empty silences, maintaining a violent presence of black holes skirted by speech but thereby made manifest in the movement of a story: blanks in album pages, pictures that look to be perpetually in flames but not completely consumed to the point where their shadow, their odor, have become indiscernible.â€ â€“ W.G. Sebald