«As ‘twere he». Some Reflections on Photographic Portraits in Late 19th-century English Literary Culture
This article investigates the simulacral dimension in the representation of photographic portraits in late-nineteenth century English literature. Its first two sections focus on Hardy’s photography-related poetry and prose, and show how, in these texts, photographic portraits operate as a ghostly surrogate for an absent person and/or much-desired body. This fetishization of photographic images, which Hardy shares with several other turn-of-the century poets and writers, is in tune with later theories of photography and simulacra, but also reflects contemporary cultural and aesthetic discourses related to technological innovations in the field of photography. The final section of the article argues that this ‘photographic’ simulacrum, which is often linked to amorous desire, may be viewed as a modern version of a long-established trope in Western literary culture, that is the internalised portrait of the beloved.
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