How can an image be turned into a text? This question has preoccupied artists and art experts for thousands of years. There seems to be three potential intersections of spectacle and verbal utterance. First, description has received a substantial amount of critical attention, which of course does not mean that there are no other relevant phenom...ena requiring further study. Second, the interrelationship of written, moulded or painted portraits also makes it worthwhile to explore the connections between portrait painting and biography. The third kind of encounter between text and image is the narrative. Is it possible at all to narrate a story in the form of image(s)? The answer is by far not as evident as certain critics argue, since a narrative does not only presuppose a plot but a narrator as well, that is, a linguistic construct. It is thus especially reasonable to speak of a pictorial narrative where the images are to represent subsequent phases of the story. The paper aims to examine these issues on the basis of relevant examples, such as texts by Virginia Woolf and Miklós Bánffy.
Between 22 August and 19 December 1822 the weekly Budapesti Visszhang published a narrative entitled Remembrances in 13 installments. In 1853, Phantom Visions on the Soul’s Horizon by the same author, Zsigmond Kemény appeared as a full-length book. Are these two versions of the same work of fiction, or should they be read as different works?... The earlier text has both thematic and structural closure. Although there is some continuity between the two texts, Phantom Visions is an elaboration on Remembrances. The focus is shifted to the consciousness of the characters, and an emphasis is put on the international background: a glance backward reveals the past of the hero’s father-in-law, detailing his role in the French revolution of 1789, his disillusionment at the way it developed, and his escape from his country. The new elements, including the portrayal of the tension between Hungarians and Romanians, make Phantom Visions a far more complex work than its predecessor.
Since most of the leading Hungarian writers of the early twentieth century refused to participate in World War I, the most interesting Hungarian document is Noirmoutier (The Black Monastery) by the Transsylvanian Aladár Kuncz (1886–1931), published shorty before the death of its author. When the war was declared, he was in Brittany. Kuncz an...d some of his compatriots were interned, and his book is a narrative of captivity. Despite his sufferings, he never lost his great admiration for French culture. Among the German authors who fought in the war, Ernst Jünger (1895–1998), the author of Stahlgewittern (Storm of Steel, 1920), one of the most imaginative prose works about the war, expressed his unqualified respect for the ”enemy”. It is a difficult question to what extent the horror of the trench led some writers to political extremes. Henry Barbusse (1873–1935) became a Communist, whereas Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1894–1961) and Pierre Drieu la Rochelle (1893–1945) decided to support the pro-German régime during World War II. A somewhat comparable disillusion was expressed by Ford Madox Ford (1873–1939) in his novel tetralogy Parade’s End (1924–28). The conclusion is inescapable: Europe committed suicide in1914, as the Hungarian poet and novelist Dezső Kosztolányi (1885–1936) declared when the war broke out.