"The Other Side of Dailiness": Photography in Recent Canadian Fiction Theses uri icon

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  • One could amend Virginia Woolf's famous comment on the Post-Impressionist movement in art to read, "In 1819 human nature changed." The discovery of photography has had wide-ranging consequences for artists working in various media--most obviously, painting and writing. Only very recently, however, have writers, in particular, explored in any depth the relationship between the word and the photograph. This study offers a detailed examination of the ways in which four contemporary Canadian authors perceive that relationship: Alice Munro, Timothy Findley, Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Laurence. These writers have been chosen for detailed examination because of their consistent and varied use cf photography as a metaphor and as a structural motif in their fiction.

    Chapter One of the thesis relates photography to Alice Munro's paradoxical vision of experience. Chapters Two and Three examine the relationships among photography postmodernism, historical awareness and memory in the works of Timothy Findley and Michael Ondaatje, respectively. Margaret Laurence's fiction, the subject of the final chapter, allows us to study photographic awareness and historical awareness in the context of a more traditional narrative style.

    No full-length study of photography's impact on literature exists. The individual artists, and to observe the different associations which each writer makes with photographic vision. In this way, o~e may observe the evolution of a writer's attitudes toward abstract processes of perception and knowledge, while keeping a concrete model-the photograph--as a constant touchstone and point of comparison. This movement from the concrete to the abstract is, after all, the very impulse behind fiction--to divine from the daily world what Alice Munro calls "the other side of dailiness."

publication date

  • July 1985