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Crooked Timber

W. Eugene Smith, Josef Sudek, and humanist photography

A footnote in John Banville’s Prague Pictures stopped me short. The book, which celebrates the work of the late Czech photographer Josef Sudek, argues that no other son of Prague “managed to capture so movingly the essence of the place.” The footnote, however, presents an altogether chillier appraisal. It refers to a meeting between Banville and Henri Cartier-Bresson, the French photojournalist, who concluded that Sudek’s photographs were “not human enough.”

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