Muybridge, the inevitable story


Well, it was only a matter if time before someone would use Muybridge in a novel that took the basic facts of his life, and added generous helpings of fictional events and characters. From Amazon:

“Moments Captured is the captivating story of two indelible individuals and a shattering murder in late nineteenth-century San Francisco. An epic saga of young America flexing its muscle, it is roughly based on the life of the great photographer Edward Muybridge. Crossing the country with his camera and outsized ambition, Muybridge meets the emancipated young dancer Holly Hughes, and inexorably she becomes the true focus of his life- though a corrupt robber baron interested in Muybridge’s talent for technology comes between them.

Through Seidman’s finely drawn prose, we witness nation-building on a colossal scale, along with the politics of wile, greed, and seduction. With an intense love affair at its center and a true-to-life narrative of art and technology, this novel brings to life one of the most picaresque settings in American history.”

There’s Wild West action aplenty:

“Stagecoach and horsemen were sixty yards from the photographer when a bandit pulled up to the coach and leveled his six-gun right at the driver’s ear. The stagecoach braked. The rider grabbed the bridle of the offside horse and jerked back hard, stopping the horse in its tracks. The bleeding guard sprawled across the seat. A whipped-puppy moan wrenched its way out from the man’s shredded guts. “I got to look at Burt,” the driver pleaded. “He’s hurt real bad!” “Payroll first, then play nursemaid!” The outlaw’s voice was gravelly and commanding, yet something of an Eastern accent – Philadelphia, Baltimore, Muybridge couldn’t be sure – clung to it. Edward found himself creeping closer…..”

And Wild West women, too….

“Still, untimely images of Edith, a skirt dancer he had known, incinerated the remnants of his composure … Pleasure lay diffused everywhere along her lean, suggestive body, and so, in such a mood, she remained avidly in touch with herself, her fingers exploring, slowly palpating a curve, a crevice….”

That’s enough of that. I wonder how many of these imaginary incidents in Muybridge’s life will seep through into factual accounts and our general perception of the man and his work. The book has gained some good, genuine reviews, and I look forward to reading it.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert