Text/Image Mosaics in French Culture: Emblems and Comic Strips.Laurence Grove. Text/Image Mosaics in French Culture: Emblems and Comic Strips
Studies in European Cultural Transition 32. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2005. xiv + 188 pp. + 52 b/w pls. index. illus. bibl. $99.95. ISBN ISBN
International Standard Book Number
ISBN International Standard Book Number
ISBN n abbr (= International Standard Book Number) → ISBN m : 0-7546-3488-4.
In the concluding paragraph of this entertaining study of two seemingly disparate genres, Laurence Grove reminds his reader that he had opened the book with what he calls an "Editor's nightmare" of a statement (162). This refers to the first page of the book's foreword, where Grove is at pains to disavow TO DISAVOW. To deny the authority by which an agent pretends to have acted as when he has exceeded the bounds of his authority.
2. It is the duty of the principal to fulfill the contracts which have been entered into by his authorized agent; and when an agent any claim to any encyclopedic en·cy·clo·pe·dic
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of an encyclopedia.
2. Embracing many subjects; comprehensive: "an ignorance almost as encyclopedic as his erudition" knowledge or comprehensive coverage of the French emblem book and comic strip comic strip, combination of cartoon with a story line, laid out in a series of pictorial panels across a page and concerning a continuous character or set of characters, whose thoughts and dialogues are indicated by means of "balloons" containing written speech. . Rather than any overarching synthesis or exhaustive historical comparison of emblems and comic strips, he has selected a few "discrete synchronic syn·chron·ic
2. Of or relating to the study of phenomena, such as linguistic features, or of events of a particular time, without reference to their historical context. case studies." Disconcertingly dis·con·cert
tr.v. dis·con·cert·ed, dis·con·cert·ing, dis·con·certs
1. To upset the self-possession of; ruffle. See Synonyms at embarrass.
2. , this means, in effect, that "there is ... no reason for this work to be about emblems and bandes dessinees" rather than other thematically, aesthetically, or semiotically related genres (xiii).
Grove intends to provide what he calls a study of "parallel mentalities," in which the serial juxtaposition of alternating chapters will make possible appropriate comparisons between the aetas emblematica and the modern age. After a substantial introductory section devoted to the basics of text/image genres in general and to the emblem and the comic strip in particular, we are given four groups of paired chapters in which Grove discusses emblem and comic from the points of view of theory, production, thematics, and reception before drawing a few brief overall conclusions.
A study of this sort is, as Grove himself cheerfully admits, the work of an enthusiast, and the author's refreshingly keen interest in text/image genres is evident throughout. At the University of Glasgow The University of Glasgow (Scottish Gaelic: Oilthigh Ghlaschu, Latin: Universitas Glasguensis) was founded in 1451, in Glasgow, Scotland. , Grove is fortunate to have direct access to the peerless Stirling Maxwell collection of early illustrated books and manuscripts, and it is apparent that he has read widely in the emblematic corpus of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. His knowledge of French comics seems equally broad, from the early works of Rodolphe Topffer to the most recent, "off the wall" creations by current BD artists. The question, then, is not whether he is well-versed in the two subjects he has chosen to link, but whether the linkage is ultimately a productive and enlightening one.
Here the verdict is mixed. As with any comparative study of this kind, the risk is that the parallel analytical tracks may never meet, and that the relevance of the subjects chosen for juxtaposition may, thus, remain less convincing to the reader than to the author. Grove's central thesis is that both emblem book and bande dessinee are examples of mosaics combining visual and textual elements in ways that allow for multiple arrangements and rearrangements of the various parts. He thus devotes an interesting chapter to what he calls "moveable woodcuts": visual images that printers and publishers could combine and recycle in novel ways so as to take full advantage of the semiotically more open nature of the image as compared to text. A printer might thus uproot a previously published image from its context, using it to support an entirely new textual meaning, or combine woodcuts from many sources into an unanticipated but pleasing new composite. Grove argues that visual images became analogous to the letters found in a printer's font, assembled as needed as needed prn. See prn order. to create new meanings. Polyvalent polyvalent /poly·va·lent/ (-va´lent) multivalent.
1. Acting against or interacting with more than one kind of antigen, antibody, toxin, or microorganism.
2. and malleable, visual images were thus more instrumental to the evolution of early print culture than has commonly been recognized. It is harder to see the relevance of this to the French comic strip, though Grove does demonstrate convincingly that both the genre itself and its practitioners have a kind of protean pro·te·an
Readily taking on varied shapes, forms, or meanings.
changing form or assuming different shapes. mutability mu·ta·ble
a. Capable of or subject to change or alteration.
b. Prone to frequent change; inconstant: mutable weather patterns.
2. that has enabled an extraordinary range of development and adaptation to changing social and political circumstances.
As I read each pair of chapters, I was inclined to agree with Grove's own suggestion that "the studies in this book [may be] best enjoyed individually" (162) as thought-provoking and unpretentious examples of, at least superficially similar, "parallel mentalities." This lack of cohesion is to some extent natural, given that early versions of most of the chapters in this volume originally appeared elsewhere, but it remains true that readers seeking a more thorough treatment may be disappointed. One further disappointment: while this volume is handsomely printed, with a rich selection of very fine plates, the profusion of superficial errors (in the spelling of proper names, in French and Latin quotations, and in the English text) is such as to make one question whether anyone at Ashgate actually read the text before publication. In a volume as slim and as costly as this, such lack of attention to detail seems all the more regrettable.
DAVID GRAHAM David Graham is the name of several notable people, including:
Concordia University, Montreal