1. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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    Detailed reference to Dali painting in short story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Anthony Martin, May 17, 2013.

    In a key scene of one of my in-progress short stories, I reference a specific title of a Dali painting and describe it in detail. The description is really serves as symbolic metaphor for some of the themes (namely addiction) embodied by the story.

    My questions:

    I've italicized the name of the painting (it's a rather long title)--is this proper?

    Without reading the piece this may be hard to answer, but does the inclusion of such a specific, "real" painting along with a very "real" (albeit creative) description of the work somehow compromise the fictional world I've created in the story?

    Perhaps some of you have come across an instance where an author references a painting in fiction and thus can offer some insight.
     
  2. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    Per the Modern Language Association (and the University of Richmond), you are correct in italicizing the name of the painting. http://writing2.richmond.edu/writing/wweb/titles.html

    I think your other question depends on how fictional of a work you're creating. Is it still set in the real world, with a few changes (maybe urban fantasy)? Is it an alternate reality? Is it set on, say, an alien world that happens to have a Dali painting? Dan Brown's book, The Da Vinci Code, is a work of fiction and relies heavily on da Vinci paintings (or at least one of them). So it has been done and done successfully. Of course, that's much older art. I'm not sure there'd be much of a difference, though. I have no idea if paintings can be copyrighted and protected to the point of literature being unable to reference it.
     
  3. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I don't see why it would disrupt the story. I've not really referenced anything like that myself but have read things where it was and wasn't the least bit bothered by it. I don't see why it would be bad to reference real life in fiction people do it all the time. We write about cars and buildings and cities that are all very much in the real world but it doesn't mess anything up. Why would a painting be any different? :)
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    naming and describing/discussing a work of art is no problem at all... copyright restrictions for art works cover only using an image of the work itself without permission, not simply mentioning or describing it...

    as for compromising the story, i don't see how it could be a problem in any way...
     
  5. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Whether your story is set in the real world or in some other variation of reality, your readers are in this world so, allusions to this world or things therein, are not only appropriate but are advisable.
     
  6. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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    comma use

    Thank you everyone. The short story takes place in a present-day, urban environment and the main character is a museum guard, so I think it works. I wanted to bounce it off my fellow writer geeks to make sure that by describing his painting, I wouldn't conjure Dali and other ghosts of artists past from the dead and to my front door.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    his works have been described in much less than laudatory terms throughout his professional life and since his death, so i seriously doubt anything you could say would be any worse than what's already been said...
     
  8. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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    True. To be fair, my purpose is not to comment on Dali's work.
     
  9. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Glad to help. :)
     

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