In The Art of Distances, Corina Stan identifies an insistent preoccupation with interpersonal distance in a strand of twentieth-century European and Anglophone literature that includes the work of George Orwell, Paul Morand, Elias Canetti, Iris Murdoch, Walter Benjamin, Annie Ernaux, Günter Grass, and Damon Galgut. Specifically, Stan shows that these authors all engage in philosophical meditations, in the realm of literary writing, on the ethical question of how to live with others and how to find an ideal interpersonal distance at historical moments when there are no obviously agreed-upon social norms for ethical behavior.
Bringing these authors into dialogue with philosophers such as Michel de Montaigne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Helmuth Plessner, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Luc Nancy, Emmanuel Levinas, Peter Sloterdijk, Guillaume le Blanc, and Pierre Zaoui, Stan shows how the question of the right interpersonal distance became a fundamental one for the literary authors under consideration and explores what forms and genres they proposed in order to convey the complexity of this question. Albeit unknowingly, she suggests, they are engaged in fleshing out what Roland Barthes called “a science, or perhaps an art, of distances.”
Contributors. Nancy Armstrong, Marshall Brown, Sanford Budick, Catherine Gallagher, Thomas M. Kavanagh, Jon Klancher, Jill Kowalik, Jonathan Brody Kramnick, Christie McDonald, Jerome McGann, Ruth Perry, Michael B. Prince, Leonard Tennenhouse
This book of essays—carefully written by twenty-four authorities on their subjects—provides a deep understanding of and appreciation for the coherence, primacy, and importance of the search for identity in the divergent areas of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe.
Avoiding the male-authored model of competing orations, French and Italian women of the Renaissance framed their dialogues as informal conversations, as letters with friends that in turn became epistles to a wider audience, and even sometimes as dramas. No other study to date has provided thorough, comparative view of these works across French, Italian, and Latin. Smarr's comprehensive treatment relates these writings to classical, medieval, and Renaissance forms of dialogue, and to other genres including drama, lyric exchange, and humanist invective -- as well as to the real conversations in women's lives -- in order to show how women adapted existing models to their own needs and purposes.
Janet Levarie Smarr is Professor of Theatre and Italian Studies at the University of California, San Diego.
In the decades surrounding World War I, religious belief receded in the face of radical new ideas such as Marxism, modern science, Nietzschean philosophy, and critical theology. Modes of Faith addresses both this decline of religious belief and the new modes of secular faith that took religion’s place in the minds of many writers and poets.
Theodore Ziolkowski here examines the motives for this embrace of the secular, locating new modes of faith in art, escapist travel, socialism, politicized myth, and utopian visions. James Joyce, he reveals, turned to art as an escape while Hermann Hesse made a pilgrimage to India in search of enlightenment. Other writers, such as Roger Martin du Gard and Thomas Mann, sought temporary solace in communism or myth. And H. G. Wells, Ziolkowski argues, took refuge in utopian dreams projected in another dimension altogether.
Rooted in innovative and careful comparative reading of the work of writers from France, England, Germany, Italy, and Russia, Modes of Faith is a critical masterpiece by a distinguished literary scholar that offers an abundance of insight to anyone interested in the human compulsion to believe in forces that transcend the individual.
Scenes from the Drama of European Literature was first published in 1984. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
In his foreword to this reprint of Erich Auerbach's major essays, Paolo Valesio pays tribute to the author with an old saying that he feels is still the best metaphor for the genesis of a literary critic: the critic is born of the marriage of Mercury and Philology. The German-born Auerbach was a scholar who specialized in Romance philology, a tradition rooted in German historicism—the conviction that works of art must be judged as products of variable places and times, not from the eye of eternity, nor by a single unchanging aesthetic standard. The mercurial element in Auerbach's work is significant, for in a life of motion—of exile from Hitler's Germany—he came to believe that literary history was evolutionary, ever-changing—a view reflected in the title of his book, which suggests life and literature are historical drama.
Auerbach is best known for his magisterial study Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, written during the war, in Istanbul, when he was far from his own culture and from the books that he normally relied on. In 1957, just before his death, he arranged for the publication in English of his six most important essays, in a volume called Scenes from the Drama of European Literature.As in Mimesis,Auerbach's fresh insights bring to the disparate subjects of the essays a coherence that reflects the unity of Western, humanistic tradition, even while they hint at the deepening pessimism of his later years.
In the first essay, "Figura," Auerbach develops his concept of the figural interpretation of reality; applied here to Dante's Divine Comedy,it also served as groundwork for his treatment of realism in Mimesis. A second essay on Dante's examines the poet's depiction of St. Francis of Assisi. The next three essays deal with the paradoxical nature of Pascal's political thought; the merging of la cour and la ville—the king's entourage and the bourgeoisie—chiefly in relation to the seventeenth-century French theater; and Vico's formulation concepts by the German Romantics. In the final essay Auerbach confers upon Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal the designation "aesthetic dignity" because, not in spite of, the hideous reality of the peoms.
"A major collection of important essays on European literature, almost all classics, and almost all required reading for their various centuries—thus the book is indispensable for the medieval period,the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries; in addition, the 'Figura' and the Vico essays are very significant theoretical statements. The book is lucid and far more accessible for undergraduates than, say, current high theory. Nor has Auerbach's own work aged . . . All of his varied strengths are evidence in this collection, which is a better way into his work than Mimesis." –Fredric Jameson, University of California, Santa Cruz.
The "world of letters" has always seemed a matter more of metaphor than of global reality. In this book, Pascale Casanova shows us the state of world literature behind the stylistic refinements--a world of letters relatively independent from economic and political realms, and in which language systems, aesthetic orders, and genres struggle for dominance. Rejecting facile talk of globalization, with its suggestion of a happy literary "melting pot," Casanova exposes an emerging regime of inequality in the world of letters, where minor languages and literatures are subject to the invisible but implacable violence of their dominant counterparts.Inspired by the writings of Fernand Braudel and Pierre Bourdieu, this ambitious book develops the first systematic model for understanding the production, circulation, and valuing of literature worldwide. Casanova proposes a baseline from which we might measure the newness and modernity of the world of letters--the literary equivalent of the meridian at Greenwich. She argues for the importance of literary capital and its role in giving value and legitimacy to nations in their incessant struggle for international power. Within her overarching theory, Casanova locates three main periods in the genesis of world literature--Latin, French, and German--and closely examines three towering figures in the world republic of letters--Kafka, Joyce, and Faulkner. Her work provides a rich and surprising view of the political struggles of our modern world--one framed by sites of publication, circulation, translation, and efforts at literary annexation.
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