Mirror, box, print, novel: optical fictions of the eighteenth-century zograscope

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How was narrative point of view developed through an optical device? In between Richardson’s publication of Pamela in 1740 and Fielding’s publication of Tom Jones in 1749, a device known as the zograscope first appeared in England in 1745. Whether appearing as a tabletop mirror or a wooden box, the zograscope allowed its users to see the world in three dimensions and in color from the comfort of home or in crowded venues. An understanding of psychological perspective as it was developed in eighteenth-century novels, and optical perspective as it was created by the zograscope, are incomplete without relating them to each other. They are equally identifiable as forms of narrative perspective, and demonstrate how text and image, and their materialities, came to interpenetrate each other in modern conceptions of point of view.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-274
Number of pages16
JournalWord and Image
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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