A Photomontage of Memory: The Role of the Visual in Angharad Price’s “The Life of Rebecca Jones”

Aleksander Bednarski

Abstract


The article examines the visual aspect of the novel The Life of Rebecca Jones by the contemporary Welsh writer Angharad Price. The book is an imaginary autobiography of the eponymous Rebecca Jones, Price’s distant relative, who died of diphtheria in 1916, aged 11. Apart from Rebecca’s family photographs reproduced in the text, ekphrastic descriptions of a photograph, a painting (by a blind artist) and the video recording of a television programme, the novel problematizes the dichotomy between seeing and blindness. The aim of this essay is to demonstrate how these elements in Price’s novel contribute to the production of meaning by generating tension between two different modes of discourse: verbal and visual. Price’s novel is read as an ‘imagetext’ which, by adopting photographic/visual features, creates an illusion of ‘photographic’ verisimilitude (described as a trompe-l’œil effect). This mechanism is interpreted as the manifestation of the narrator’s struggle to assert her authority as a perceiving subject and the text itself as a site where the memory of place and family history can be preserved.


Keywords


The Life of Rebecca Jones; Angharad Price; Welsh fiction; visuality; photomontage; photography; ekphrasis

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18290/rh.2018.66.11-8

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