Roland Barthes, one of photography's most influential critics, once described the trouble introduced by the advent of photography. Studies of literature and photography tend to assess the literary effects of photography, with literature seen as the older, broader, more established cultural form, and photography the new, alien upstart. "Photography and Literature" instead reverses the angle of vision to examine photography's encounters with literature from the point of view of photography, providing a new way of understanding its interplay with literature and the printed page. Francois Brunet begins by showing how photography's invention and its publication were shaped by written culture, both scientific and literary. In turn he examines its early and durable incarnation in the book format, the ongoing and often repetitive discovery' of photography by writers, and, finally, how, in the twentieth century, photography and literature are seen to trade tools and even merge formats.
He also focuses on writings by photographers, from William Henry Fox Talbot's groundbreaking exploration of photography in "The Pencil of Nature" of the 1840s, to Raymond Depardon's correspondence or Sophie Calle's projects with Jean Baudrillard and Paul Auster. Ultimately, Brunet argues that the histories of photography and literature since 1840 have been drawing closer together, and that their convergence has provided recent writing with a new photo-textual' genre. Offering a wealth of examples from autobiography, manifestos and fiction, and a fascinating variety of images from the mid-nineteenth century to the twenty-first, "Photography and Literature" will be of interest to anyone passionate about the historic relationship of text and image.