Interactions between technology and literature

Krzywkowski, Isabelle. Machines à écrire. Littérature et technologies du XIXe au XXIe siècle. Grenoble, UGA Editions, 2010.

In this book, Isabelle Krzywkowski explores the interactions between technology and literature by focusing on the progressive integration of the machine into the practice of literary composition during the 19th and 20th century. Through the successive steps of this assimilation, Krzywkowski identifies a pattern through which technology not only becomes an object of reflection for the writer but participates to the act of literary creation. This pattern of imagination, appropriation, and integration constitutes the main parts of the book. Thus, Krzywkowski argues that, at first, the encounter between writers and technology entails a reflection about their status of inanimate objects, as opposed to living beings. This conceptual level is then followed by the inclusion of the machine within the plot, sometimes leading to the creation of new literary genres, like science-fiction. Finally, the last step of this process is the direct implication of the machine in the act of creation, in the sense that typewriters or computers instigate a new relationship between the writer and the page, which contributes to renew the act of literary creation by opening to innovative formal experimentations.

A review of the book is available in French Studies: A Quarterly Review, Volume 65, Number 3, July 2011, pp. 417-418.

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