'Sight Unseen': The Visual and Cinematic in 'Ivy Gripped the Steps'

Ailsa Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In her Introduction to The Faber Book of Modern Short Stories, Elizabeth Bowen draws parallels between the short story in the twentieth century and cinematic art, including its visual and dramatic qualities. A close reading of “Ivy Gripped the Steps” (1945) illustrates Bowen’s deployment of cinematic strategies in her own stories. Special attention is paid to her use of light; and to her “framing” of characters through a seemingly depersonalised cinematic gaze, drawing on David Trotter’s analysis of the “will to automatism” in modernist fiction. The essay also explores competing notions of temporality in Bowen’s story, where time is experienced both as Bergsonian flux and as irreversible forward motion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-56
JournalJournal of the Short Story in English
Issue number56
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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