Features


A Photo Book That Mixes Poetry and Vintage Street Photography

January 21, 2014

By Dzana Tsomondo

© J&L Books/Elisabeth Tonnard

In her book, Elisabeth Tonnard paired each of the photographs with one of 90 different translations of the opening lines of Dante’s The Inferno. The translation that accompanies the image on the opposite page reads: “Halfway on the path our life is/I found I was in a dark woods;/For I had lost my direction.” The translation that accompanies the above image reads: “About the middle of life’s onward way,/I found myself within a darksome dell,/Because from the true path I went astray.” Tonnard says she feels as if “each person [in the images] is saying those lines and saying something about their situation in life, and it sounds very unique. But because they are all saying the same thing, it’s not very unique at all.”

Elisabeth Tonnard describes her book In This Dark Wood as a “modern gothic.” In it, 90 different black-and-white portraits are paired with 90 different English translations of the opening lines of Dante’s The Inferno. “Midway along the journey of our life/I woke to find myself in a dark wood,/for I had wandered off from the straight path,” reads one of...

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