[Parution] Colourworks : Chromatic Innovation in French Poetry and Art Writing

Susan Harrow, Colourworks: Chromatic Innovation in French Poetry and Art Writing, Bloomsbury Publishing, (2020) 2023

Paperback Release (with 32 colour plates) : 23 mars 2023


ISBN : 9781526637758


As joint winner of the Gapper Book Prize, 2021, this new edition of Susan Harrow’s award-winning study of modern French poetry and art writing offers a bold approach to studying the relationship between text and image. Exploring key questions such as how modern writers write colour, and to what extent critical thought on colour in visual media can illuminate the textual life of colour, Susan Harrow argues that colour is integral to the exploration of ethics, ekphrasis, objects, bodies, landscape and interiority in painting and poetry.

The question of colour, in a variety of disciplines and media, has provoked debate from Aristotle to Goethe, and from Baudelaire to Derek Jarman. If the past twenty years have witnessed a ‘colour turn’ in contemporary cultural studies and screen research, colour values in literary and textual media are often elided or, simply, overlooked. Colourworks tackles this lacuna in the study of modern poetry and art writing in French, revealing the integral role of colour in the work of three iconic French writers in the modern tradition: Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Valéry and Yves Bonnefoy. This book spans the broad modern period from the 1860s to the early twenty-first century in taking an exploratory approach to the visuality of the verbal medium through an adventurous reading of text and image.

Harrow uncovers how colour moves and morphs in texts as it challenges the traditionalist containments of chromatic symbolism. Beyond its primary area of investigation in modern poetry and art writing in French, this richly colour-illustrated study has significant interdisciplinary implications-conceptual, methodological, and practical-for the study of visuality in humanities research, from literature studies to material and visual culture studies.

Table of Contents

List of plates

Introduction Thinking Colour-Writing

Part One Objects and Affects: Mallarmé’s Monochromes

Colour Culture
Red Bricks and Yellow Thoughts
Making Modern, Moving Colour
Displacements of Black
Migrations of Blue
White (Im)material

Part Two Matter, Metaphor, Metamorphosis: Valéry’s Intermittent Colour

Valéry, Vanguard and Rear-guard
‘Carroty-Red Bits of Fibre’ and a Pink-Bristled Toothbrush
Thinking Art and Writing Colour
Resisting and Revealing Colour
Sense and Sensuousness: Seascape and Landscape
Ekphrasis: Figure and Fruit
Chiaroscuro Modulations

Part Three Emblematic Chromatics and the Colour of Ethics: Yves Bonnefoy’s Lessons in Things

The Dereliction of Colour
The Equipoise of Grey
Colour Incarnate
Unbiddable Colour: The Ethical Turn
Acts of Attention
Ethics and Ekphrastics
Interrupted White
The Curve of Colour

Conclusion: Colour Moving Forward


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