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FRAMING GERTRUDE: PHOTOGRAPHIC NARRATION AND THE SUBJECTIVITY OF THE ARTIST-OBSERVER IN LEVY’S THE ROMANCE OF A SHOP

  • David Wanczyk (a1)
Extract

In Amy Levy's 1888 novel, The Romance of a Shop, four orphaned sisters, the Lorimers, open a photography studio in London and struggle to find business and a balance between free expression and propriety. Certainly, the sisters’ commercial involvement with photography can be read as artistic and unconventional for women of the time, but their position as artist-observers sometimes seems to relegate them to a space behind the lens and behind the window that divides their apartment from the society they look out upon. It is from that position as photographer-observer that Gertrude, the most introspective and yet most socially conscious of the sisters, wields her perceptive powers, her piercing gaze. Photography, and the way in which it influences her mode of observing, gives Gertrude an accurate, superior vision and a kind of social agency; but that gaze is negatively mediated by photography, too, filtered by the machine.

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Victorian Literature and Culture
  • ISSN: 1060-1503
  • EISSN: 1470-1553
  • URL: /core/journals/victorian-literature-and-culture
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