Philip Stewart. "Text, Image and Allegory." Engraven Desire: Eros, Image
and Text in the French Eighteenth Century. Durham, NC: Duke UP. 1ñ38.
|AS PREPARATION for his book,
which sets out to reveal a discourse of propriety and desire in eighteenth
century French illustrated texts, Philip Stewart outlines his methods of
exclusion and definition. His primary principle is that "text never determines
how it is illustrated" (2). In other words, illustrations exist as products
of individual readings of a text and are "constrained by definable boundaries
. . . [that are] by no means fully determined" (3).
Stewart recognizes that undertaking the definition
of all definable boundaries would be too large a project. Instead, he treats
illustrations of the unclothed body, demnstrating how the different articulations
of this image are affected by engraving technology, author-artist relationships,
and social and historical contexts.
Stewart's final discussion in this chapter deals
with the idea that images limit the possible readings of the text they
accompany. The difference between representation and resemblance is defined
as Stewart demonstrates that successful execution of one does not necessarily
guarantee the success of the other. In order to be suggestive, an image
should not be exhaustive. Its power may rest on its exclusions and its
deft, short-handing of concepts. This may also mean it has the potential
to truncate the text it accompanies.
Stewart marshals his argument to conclude that images
are ultimately dependent on a verbal context, and that the more complete
that context is, the more the image may mean. This is, finally, a very
Lessing-like argument; it carefully defines the domains of word and image
and then finds the domain of the image to be wider and more proliferative.
Howver, I am unsure that he makes his case. (Joan Menefee.)
Return to Text and Image: Selective Annotated
Return to home page
Department of English, University of Minnesota
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Created 24 November 1997
Revised 23 December 1997