Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Daguerreotype Dangers

In 1842, the French playwright and author Honore de Balzac posed for a daguerreotype. The realistic nature of this reflective image led him to declare that he'd never pose for another. He thought it would steal a bit of his soul each time.
Honore de Balzac, by Bisson, 1842

There are many tribes who believe (or believed) this to be the case.  So did this idea spring up spontaneously in various cultures around the world or can it be attributed to Balzac? 

This interesting tidbit came from author John Tresch, The Romantic Machine (University of Chicago Press, 2012).  Tresch's book won the History of Science Pfizer Award.  Tresch gave a fascinating lecture on Romanticism last Friday night.  A whole section of it was devoted to the daguerreotype and it's place in French Romanticism.  His presentation convinced me to add this to my reading list.

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