Imag(in)ing the Past: The Family Album in Marcel Beyers Spione Chapter uri icon


  • Foregrounding the interrelation of media and memory, recent German fiction is dominated by allusions to photography. Beyer's novel is unique, however, in its de-emphasis of the referential or evidentiary value of the photograph his narrator invents the photographs in the family album stressing instead the role of the imagination in the encounter with the photographic image. While the image-text relationship generally announces a tension between linguistic and pictorial modes of representation, Beyer complicates this dialectic, revealing a certain fluidity between photograph and text in the negotiation of a more vital relationship between the past and the present, the private and the public. The photo collage, which complements (but emphatically refuses to illustrate) the text, likewise enacts the multiplicity of heterogeneous stories that cannot be contained within a monolithic view of the past.

author list (cited authors)

  • Harris, S.

editor list (cited editors)

  • Lutzeler, P. M., & Schindler, S. K.

Book Title

  • Gegenwartsliteratur 4/2005. Ein germanistisches Jahrbuch / A German Studies Yearbook

publication date

  • January 2005