Mavis Gallant: The Eye and the Ear
University of Toronto Press, 2019 - 272 pages
With a confidante’s insights, Marta DvořŠk sets up an innovative connection between Mavis Gallant’s dazzling writing and the whole spectrum of the arts. She simultaneously engages with the feats of art making and the adventures of reading, looking, and listening.
Drawing on private correspondence and conversations with the Gallant she repositions†as a late modernist, DvořŠk†investigates the relationships between the Paris-based master of the short story and visual and sound culture. Through the filter of philosophical aesthetics, she identifies the†painterly, cinematic, and musical dynamics which light up Gallant’s craft. At the same time, she opens a dialogue between Gallant and other international modernists and with those they were reading, watching, and listening to, from the moving pictures which shaped Gallant’s generation to the rhythm and dissonance of, say, Stravinsky and jazz, which − like the Cubist rupture with spatial perspective − spearheaded modernity’s aesthetics of breakage.
How does Gallant’s work†work? DvořŠk’s hands-on rhetorical analyses of Gallant’s stories and lesser-known, recently reissued novels illuminate the superb stylist’s language and vision via an emphasis on both image and rhythm. Providing keys to Gallant’s famous sleights-of-hand and tonal shifts, the discussions reveal a fictional world as multidimensional as a Cubist picture or a symphony†−†depending on whether we lean towards the eye or the ear.