Photo-Embedded Literature – 1970-1989: Bibliography
Here is my bibliography of works of fiction and poetry published in the years 1970-1989 containing embedded photographs. You can see individual bibliographies for other years underneath the pull-down menu “Photo-Embedded Literature” at the top of Vertigo. I also maintain a comprehensive bibliography that spans 1892 to the present at Library Thing (http://www.librarything.com/catalog/VertigoTwo). As of today, July 5, 2016, that bibliography contains 228 fiction titles and 68 poetry titles. I am always updating these lists as I learn of new books. If you know of a book not included on my list, please let me know in a comment. [Updated July 15, 25, 2016.]
Kobo Abe. The Box Man. NY: Knopf, 1974. Contains nine b&w photographs, almost assuredly by Abe himself. This is the first English translation from the Japanese original Hako Otoko, published in 1973. For my review of this book, click here.
Konrad Bayer. The Head of Vitus Bering: A Portrait in Prose. Melbourne: Rigmarole of the Hours, 1979. Bayer’s novel is often called the most important work issued by the Vienna Group. It’s an hallucinogenic transformation of the ill-fated exploration that led to the death of Bering and his crew on the Aleutian island named after him. It contains a single b&w photograph on the opening page. This is the first English translation from the original German edition of 1965. A “revised” translation was published by Atlas Press in 1994. Click here to see the connection between Bayer and W.G. Sebald.
Andre Breton. Mad Love. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987. Surprisingly, it took fifty years for this first English translation from the French original of 1937 L’Amour Fou., Breton’s Surrealist classic about the mysteries of love. Mad Love contains twenty black-and-white photographs, some of which are credited to Man Ray, Brassaï, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and others. About half of the photographs reproduce Surrealist works of art.
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. Dictee. NY: Tanam Press, 1982. Now recognized as one of the key works in twentieth century avant-garde literature, Dictee is an experiment in autobiography that blends poetry and prose, history and memoir. It also contains numerous uncredited news photographs, portraits and reproductions of documents, including some depicting the author’s own manuscript for Dictee, thus anticipating Sebald’s use of embedded imagery by years. For my review of this book, click here.
Robert Duncan. Caesar’s Gate: Poems 1949-50. With paste-ups by Jess. n.p.: Sand Dollar, 1972. Life partners Robert Duncan and Jess collaborated on a number of books that consisted of Duncan’s poems and writings and Jess’s paste-ups (photo collages). This is a beautiful example that demonstrates the way in which their collaborations work in parallel, while remaining thematically distinct.
John Gardner. Mickelsson’s Ghost. NY: Knopf, 1982. With a number of photographs by the author’s son Joel Gardner. A labyrinthine tale of a professor of philosophy who retires to a rural Pennsylvania farm in an attempt to remake his life.
Alexander Kluge. Neue Geschichten. Hefte 1-18. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1977. Stories by Kluge with numerous photographs. Kluge’s writing and use of embedded images greatly influenced Sebald. One section of Neue Geschichten (unillustrated) was translated into English in an anthology of Kluge’s writings published under the title Air Raid (Seagull Books 2014). Air Raid concludes with Sebald’s essay on Kluge called “Between History and Natural History. On the Literary Description of Total Destruction. Remarks on Kluge.”
Peter De Lory. The Wild and the Innocent. Riverside: California Museum of Photography, 1987. A very brief story accompanied by photographs by de Lory, along with a song by artist Terry Allen. This is a fairly rare example of a photographer who ventures into the world of fiction.
E.V. Lucas & George Morrow. What a Life!: An Autobiography. NY: Dover, 1975. Reprint of the 1911 original. Fictional autobiography illustrated entirely with images cut out of a Whiteley’s (London department store) Catalogue. This reprint contains an introduction by poet John Ashberry.
E.V. L[ucas]., & G[eorge]. M[orrow]. What a Life!: An Autobiography. London: Collins, 1987. Yet another reprint of the 1911 originalThis fictional autobiography is illustrated solely with images cut out of a Whiteley’s department store catalog. An earlier reprint was put out in 1975 by Dover (see above). Nearly all of the illustrations seem to be engravings, but several look suspiciously like photographs. Nevertheless, this represents a very early example of a work of fiction in which the text and illustrations carry equal weight.
Wright Morris. Plains Song: For Female Voices. 1980. A remarkable novel about three generations of Midwestern women. Each chapter begins with the same photograph – an oval image (as if seen through an oval mirror) of the corner of a room in which stands a table full of framed family portraits.
Michael Ondaatje. The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left Handed Poems. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 1970. Poems about Billy the Kid, with seven black and white photographs, some of which are credited to Montana photographer L.A. Huffman (1854-1931) and several reproductions from old books.
Michael Ondaatje. Coming Through Slaughter. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 1976. Ondaatje’s first novel is the story of legendary New Orleans jazz cornet player Buddy Bolden (1876?-1931). Contains two photographs: one of Bolden’s band and one showing a series of three sonographs of dolphin sounds that relate to the manner in which Bolden played the cornet. See my review of this title here.
Jacques Roubaud. Grand Incendie de Londres. Paris: Seuil, 1989. Contains a single photography by the author’s wife Alix. For my review of the 1991 English translation, click here.
Ronald Sukenick. Blown Away. Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1986. Sukenick’s often amusing tale of Hollywood, starring a mind reader named Boris O. Ccrab. Contains one illustration: a photocopy of a page from the October 24, 1978 LA Times, showing photographs of a forest fire around Malibu.
James Van Der Zee, Owen Dodson, and Camille Billops. The Harlem Book of the Dead. Dobbs Ferry: Morgan & Morgan, 1978. Photographs by Van Der Zee, poems by Dodson, and texts by Billops. This collaborative work uses Van Der Zee’s photographs of Harlem funerals to explore the African American culture of Harlem. Foreword by Toni Morrison.