Dedication: For Graham
There may be in the cup
A spider steep'd and one may drink; depart,
And yet partake no venom, (for his knowledge
Is not infected): But if one present
Th'abhorr'd image to his eye, make known
How he hath drunk, he cracks his gorge, his sides
With violent hefts: I have drunk, and seen the spider.
Shakespeare: The Winter's Tale
'This study shows how fiction that makes use of textiles as an essential element utilizes synaesthetic writing and synaesthetic metaphor to create an affective link to, and response in, the reader. These links and responses are examined using affect theory from Silvan Tomkins and Brian Massumi and work on synaesthesia by Richard Cytowic, Lawrence Marks, and V.S. Ramachandran, among others. Synaesthetic writing, including synaesthetic metaphors, has been explored in poetry since the 1920s and, more recently, in fiction, but these studies have been general in nature. By narrowing the field of investigation to those novels that specifically employ three types of hand-crafted textiles (quilt-making, knitting and embroidery), the book isolates how these textiles are used in fiction. The combination of synaesthesia, memory, metaphor and, particularly, synaesthetic metaphor in fiction with textiles in the text of the case studies selected, shows how these are used to create affect in readers, enhancing their engagement in the story.
'The work is framed within the context of the history of textile production and the use of textiles in fiction internationally, but concentrates on Australian authors who have used textiles in their writing. The decision to focus on Australian authors was taken in light of the quality and depth of the writing of textile fiction produced in Australia between 1980 and 2005 in the three categories of hand-crafted textiles – quilt-making, knitting and embroidery. The texts chosen for intensive study are: Kate Grenville’s The Idea of Perfection (1999, quilting); Marele Day’s Lambs of God (1997, knitting) and Anne Bartlett’s Knitting (2005, knitting); Jessica Anderson’s Tirra Lirra by the River (1978, embroidery) and Marion Halligan’s Spider Cup (1990, embroidery).' (Publication summary)