Reading Rembrandt: Beyond the Word-Image Opposition explores the potential for an interdisciplinary methodology between visual art and literature. In a series of close analyses of works by “Rembrandt” – works as we see them today, through all the ways of seeing and commenting that precede – and texts related to those works, Mieke Bal questions the traditional boundaries between literary and visual analysis. Bal also studies Rembrandt’s complex handling of gender and the representation of women in Rembrandt’s painting. The methods used in this study come from both in- and outside the history of art. They demonstrate the author’s sensitivity to the visual aspects of Rembrandt’s work as meaningful. The works by Rembrandt gain in depth and interest, but an original perspective of the role of visuality in our culture also emerges, which ultimately has consequences for our views of gender, the artists, and the act of reading.
About the Author
Mieke Bal is a Professor at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and is based at the University of Amsterdam.
Table of Contents
List of Illustration Preface Introduction Balancing Vision and Narrative The Subject of This Study Why “Rembrandt”? Why Interpretation? The Content of This Study The Terms of Analysis1. Beyond the World-Image Opposition Introduction State of the Art Words in Images: Beyond Illustration Words in Images: From Art Criticism to Episteme Words as Images: Theatricality and Visual Poetics From Visual Poetics to Comparative Arts2. Visual Rhetoric: The Semiotics of Rape Introduction The Wandering Womb The Page of Lucretia Lucretia’s Last Moment Contagious Logorrhea Semiotic Appropriation Real Rape: The Importance of Telling Stories Conclusion3. Visual Storytelling: Fathers and Sons and the Problem of Myth Introduction The Problem of Myth Myth and Transference “Rembrandt”’s Myth: Narrative Devices Myth and Psychoanalytic Discourse Freud’s Story of the Sons Mann’s Myth Versus Man’s Myth “Rembrandt”’s Men: Jumping to Conclusions Conclusion Appendices4. Between Focalization and Voyeurism: The Representation Vision Introduction Voyeurism, the Glance, and the Gaze “A Cluster of Signs for His Neighbour’s False Suppositions” Exhibiting Desire “They Were Hidden and Spying” “The Focalizer: The Figuration of the Viewer Susanna and the Viewer Through the Looking Glass5. Recognition: Reading Icons, Seeing Stories Introduction The Telltale Dog, or One Woman Too Many Hagar’s Harrow The Continuing Story: Hagar Today The Return of Hagar Compositional Iconography Recognition and Narrative: Signs for the Story Narrative Against Recognition: Sign for the Story Conclusion6. Textuality and Realism Introduction Signs for Textuality Textuality and/as Supplement The Letter’s Speculation Signs for the Real Textuality and Realism Visual Signs and Verbal Images: The Instance of the Letter Reading Distortion Conclusion7. Self-Reflection as a Model of Reading Introduction The Still Life of Mirroring: Self-Portraits Self-Reflection and Its Discontents The Looking Glass Revisited Self-Reflection and Realism The Construction of the Mirror On Mirror Talk Vision on the Right Side of Sight The Challenge of Self-Reflection Signs for Work Conclusion8. Blindness or Insight? Psychoanalysis and Visual Art Introduction Collision and Collusion of Psychanalysis and Visual Art A Taste for Violence Narcissism and Its Discontents Narcissism and Self-Reflection Ecce Ego: Superego, Superman Medusa’s Spell Conclusion9. Blindness as Insight: The Powers of Horror Introduction Samson and Sublimation Samson as Woman The Story of Insight Melancholy, Beauty, and the Narrative of Loss Masculinity Gendered Feminine: The Polish Rider The Fragility of Mastery Conclusion10. Dead Flesh, or the Smell of Painting Introduction Language and a Murderous Vision of Death Language and the Semiotic of Mis-seeing Staging Death: The Word Become Flesh Stage Death: Life Become Work Death as Still Life Death as Stage: Paint Become Flesh The Stage of Death: Dis-representation and Mastery Conclusion Notes References Index of Names and Titles Index of Subjects