OBERIU is an anthology of short works by three leading Russian absurdists: Alexander Vvedensky, Daniil Kharms, and Nikolai Zabolotsky. Between 1927 and 1930, the three made up the core of an avant-garde literary group called OBERIU (from an acronym standing for The Union of Real Art). It was a movement so artfully anarchic, and so quickly suppressed, that readers only began to discover its strange and singular brilliance three decades after it was extinguished—and then only in samizdat and émigré publications.
Some called it the last of the Russian avant-garde, and others called it the first (and last) instance of Absurdism in Russia. Though difficulty to pigeon-hole, OBERIU and the pleasures of its poetry and prose are, with this volume, at long last fully open to English-speaking readers. Skillfully translated to preserve the weird charm of the originals, these poems and prose pieces display all the hilarity and tragedy, the illogical action and puppetlike violence and eroticism, and the hallucinatory intensity that brought down the wrath of the Soviet censors. Today they offer an uncanny reflection of the distorted reality they reject.
Object Lessons explores a fundamental question about literary realism: How can language evoke that which is not language and render objects as real entities? Drawing on theories of reference in the philosophy of language, Jami Bartlett examines novels by George Meredith, William Makepeace Thackeray, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Iris Murdoch that provide allegories of language use in their descriptions, characters, and plots. Bartlett shows how these authors depict the philosophical complexities of reference by writing through and about referring terms, the names and descriptions that allow us to “see” objects. At the same time, she explores what it is for words to have meaning and delves into the conditions under which a reference can be understood. Ultimately, Object Lessons reveals not only how novels make references, but also how they are about referring.
The Object of the Atlantic is a wide-ranging study of the transition from a concern with sovereignty to a concern with things in Iberian Atlantic literature and art produced between 1868 and 1968. Rachel Price uncovers the surprising ways that concrete aesthetics from Cuba, Brazil, and Spain drew not only on global forms of constructivism but also on a history of empire, slavery, and media technologies from the Atlantic world. Analyzing Jose Marti’s notebooks, Joaquim de Sousandrade’s poetry, Ramiro de Maeztu’s essays on things and on slavery, 1920s Cuban literature on economic restructuring, Ferreira Gullar’s theory of the “non-object,” and neoconcrete art, Price shows that the turn to objects—and from these to new media networks—was rooted in the very philosophies of history that helped form the Atlantic world itself.
Beginning with Alexis de Tocqueville and Frances Trollope, visitors to America have written some of the most penetrating and, occasionally, scathing commentaries on U.S. politics and culture. Observing America focuses on four of the most insightful British commentators on America between 1890 and 1950. The colorful journalist W. T. Stead championed Anglo-American unity while plunging into reform efforts in Chicago. The versatile writer H. G. Wells fiercely criticized capitalist America but found reason for hope in the administrations of Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. G. K. Chesterton, one of England’s great men of letters, urged Americans to preserve the vestiges of Jeffersonian democracy that he still discerned in the small towns of the heartland. And the influential political theorist and activist Harold Laski assailed the business ethos that he believed dominated the nation, especially after Franklin Roosevelt’s death.
Robert Frankel examines the New World experiences of these commentators and the books they wrote about America. He also probes similar writings by other prominent observers from the British Isles, including Beatrice Webb, Rudyard Kipling, and George Bernard Shaw. The result is a book that offers keen insights into America’s national identity in a time of vast political and cultural change.
Even the most brilliant minds have to eat. And for some scholars, food preparation is more than just a chore; it’s a passion. In this unique culinary memoir and cookbook, renowned cultural critic Elisabeth Bronfen tells of her lifelong love affair with cooking and demonstrates what she has learned about creating delicious home meals. She recounts her cherished food memories, from meals eaten at the family table in postwar Germany to dinner parties with friends. Yet, in a thoughtful reflection on the pleasures of cooking for one, she also reveals that some of her favorite meals have been consumed alone.
Though it contains more than 250 mouth-watering recipes, Obsessed is anything but a conventional cookbook. As she shares a lifetime of knowledge acquired in the kitchen, Bronfen hopes to empower both novice and experienced home chefs to improvise, giving them hints on how to tweak her recipes to their own tastes. And unlike cookbooks that assume readers have access to an unlimited pantry, this book is grounded in reality, offering practical advice about food storage and reusing leftovers. As Bronfen serves up her personal stories and her culinary wisdom, reading Obsessed is like sitting down to a home-cooked meal with a clever friend.
Homer University of Michigan Press, 2002 Library of Congress PA4025.A5M57 2002 | Dewey Decimal 883.01
The Odyssey is considered to be one of the greatest pieces of world literature. Its basic story--the homecoming of Odysseus--is widely known. Although it has often been translated, earlier versions do not give the reader the full sense of its oral epic nature as a song that came into being through a long tradition of sung performances before writing was widely practiced. When finally written down, it retained its oral-formulaic nature in ways that are clearly discernible, and which this translation successfully captures. Rodney Merrill strictly adheres to the use of dactylic hexameter, the meter by which the formulaic language of Homeric poetry is rendered as musical phrasing rather than as a simple repetition of ideas. Reading this version--especially aloud--will grant both students and teachers fresh insight into the nature of Greek epic and Homer's song about one of the most famous characters of all time.
This epic began life as the music composed by a "singer of tales," not as words on a page. As such, its meter allows for pleasing variations with a strong basic "beat," thus providing a rhythmic impetus that carries the story swiftly forward. The resulting "music" has important repercussions for the reader's perception of the many repeated elements that provide structure for the poem and bring out significant themes, just as the repetitions in a piece of music do.
This edition of the Odyssey includes selections for further reading, a list of proper names (with a guide to pronunciation), and three maps. It also provides introductory discussions of how the work came into being and was transmitted until it became the work we read, how it is divided into six "performance sessions" of four books each, and how the poem's various themes are developed. Rodney Merrill's Odyssey is thus an ideal edition for students, teachers, and general readers.
The audiobook is available on twelve cassettes, and is read by Rodney Merrill. This version will bring Homer's epic masterpiece to life like never before. Perfect for the car or classroom!
Rodney Merrill is retired and an independent scholar. He has taught at Stanford University, the University of San Francisco, and the University of California, Berkeley.
Thomas R. Walsh, Senior Professor at Occidental College, has written articles on Homeric poetics, with a forthcoming book on anger in Homer.
The result of the interaction between Bloom and Dedalus, Kimball argues as a central tenet in her unique reading of Ulysses, is the gradual development of a relationship between the two protagonists that parallels C. G. Jung’s descriptions of the encounter between the Ego and the Shadow in that stage of his theoretical individuation process called "the realization of the shadow." These parallels form a unifying strand of meaning that runs throughout this multidimensional novel and is supported by the text and contexts of Ulysses.
Kimball has provided the first comprehensive study of the relationship between Jungian psychology and Joyce’s Ulysses. Bucking critical trends, she focuses on Stephen rather than Bloom. She also notes certain parallels—synchronicities—in the lives of both Jung and Joyce, not because the men influenced one another but because they speculated about personality at the same historical time. Finally, noting that both Jung and Joyce came from strong Christian backgrounds, she asserts that the doubleness of the human personality fundamental to Christian theology is carried over into Jung’s psychology and Joyce’s fiction.
An entertaining reworking of the most popular branch of the Old French tale of Reynard the Fox, the mid-thirteenth century Dutch epic Van den vos Reynaerde is one of the earliest long literary works in the Dutch vernacular. Sly Reynaert and a cast of other comical woodland characters find themselves again and again caught up in escapades that often provide a satirical commentary on human society.
This charmingly volume is the first bilingual edition of the tale, featuring facing pages with an English translation by Thea Summerfield, making the undisputed masterpiece of medieval Dutch literature accessible to a wide international audience. Accompanying the critical text and parallel translation are an introduction, interpretative notes, an index of names, a complete glossary, and a short introduction to Middle Dutch.
OFF COURSE: ROUNDABOUTS & DEVIATIONS is A. Robert Lee's latest collection that interleaves poetry and prose. Beneath the carefully crafted and accessible surface of Lee's work lies a profound, complex voice that deliberately disrupts traditional literary boundaries and distinctions. Different takes on the odd, oftentimes the antic, at work in the daily round. Seamed in wit, dark but congenial humor, Lee's work is aimed to amuse yet at the same time, stir recognitions. Fake correspondence might just be real. Foodways edge towards the gothic. Each composition comes over as slant, diagonal, oblique. Set phrases turn askew. Geographies un-map themselves, whether ostensibly Europe, England Japan, or America. Of course, it's all OFF COURSE. Enchanting tales of travel and transformation, comedy and capitalism, and unforgettable stories that teach us about our present as well as our past, OFF COURSE uses irony to tickle the mind. It reminds us that contradictions in life are inescapable, and how precarious and unpredictable life really is. Acerbic, volatile and incisive. Life episodes take on the patina of waking slumber, not to say japery and the absurd. Read OFF COURSE without discretion and take out some personal insurance before reading.
One of the most important avant-garde movements of postwar Paris was Lettrism, which crucially built an interest in the relationship between writing and image into projects in poetry, painting, and especially cinema. Highly influential, the Lettrists served as a bridge of sorts between the earlier works of the Dadaists and Surrealists and the later Conceptual artists.
Off-Screen Cinema is the first monograph in English of the Lettrists. Offering a full portrait of the avant-garde scene of 1950s Paris, it focuses on the film works of key Lettrist figures like Gil J Wolman, Maurice Lemaître, François Dufrêne, and especially the movement's founder, Isidore Isou, a Romanian immigrant whose “discrepant editing” deliberately uncoupled image and sound. Through Cabañas's history, we see not only the full scope of the Lettrist project, but also its clear influence on Situationism, the French New Wave, the New Realists, as well as American filmmakers such as Stan Brakhage.
In his Duino Elegies, Rainer Maria Rilke suggests that animals enjoy direct access to a realm of being—the open—concealed from humans by the workings of consciousness and self-consciousness. In his own reading of Rilke, Martin Heidegger reclaims the open as the proper domain of human existence but suggests that human life remains haunted by vestiges of an animal-like relation to its surroundings. Walter Benjamin, in turn, was to show that such vestiges—what Eric Santner calls the creaturely—have a biopolitical aspect: they are linked to the processes that inscribe life in the realm of power and authority.
Santner traces this theme of creaturely life from its poetic and philosophical beginnings in the first half of the twentieth century to the writings of the enigmatic German novelist W. G. Sebald. Sebald’s entire oeuvre, Santner argues, can be seen as an archive of creaturely life. For Sebald, the work on such an archive was inseparable from his understanding of what it means to engage ethically with another person’s history and pain, an engagement that transforms us from indifferent individuals into neighbors.
An indispensable book for students of Sebald, On Creaturely Life is also a significant contribution to critical theory.
On Histories and Stories
A. S. Byatt Harvard University Press, 2000 Library of Congress PN3343.B93 2000 | Dewey Decimal 809.93358
As writers of English from Australia to India to Sri Lanka command our attention, Salman Rushdie can state confidently that English fiction was moribund until the Empire wrote back, and few, even among the British, demur. A. S. Byatt does, and her case is persuasive. In a series of essays on the complicated relations between reading, writing, and remembering, the gifted novelist and critic sorts the modish from the merely interesting and the truly good to arrive at a new view of British writing in our time.
Whether writing about the renaissance of the historical novel, discussing her own translation of historical fact into fiction, or exploring the recent European revival of interest in myth, folklore, and fairytale, Byatt's abiding concern here is with the interplay of fiction and history. Her essays amount to an eloquent and often moving meditation on the commitment to historical narrative and storytelling that she shares with many of her British and European contemporaries. With copious illustration and abundant insights into writers from Elizabeth Bowen and Henry Green to Anthony Burgess, William Golding, Muriel Spark, Penelope Fitzgerald, Julian Barnes, Martin Amis, Hilary Mantel, and Pat Barker, On Histories and Stories is an oblique defense of the art Byatt practices and a map of the complex affiliations of British and European narrative since 1945.
Reviews of this book: On Histories and Stories...offer[s] the most spirited and knowledgeable discussion of fiction's basic questions that I have read for some time. These questions--the kind that surrounded the creation of the French nouveau roman, and were reawakened a decade or so later by the magic realists of Latin America--are rarely raised in the United States, where discussions of how literature represents reality have been smothered beneath the arid fuss of politicized deconstruction...Byatt is a vigorous exponent of the view that there is nothing wrong with making books out of books--with admitting that the impulse to write stems from enthusiastic reading, and that literary adventure takes place in a mental world generated from existent texts. Her own recent works of fiction are furiously bookish, and her Ellmann lectures propose a look at 'the sudden flowering of the historical novel in Britain'...Her scope of reference and the number of her plot summaries show a gluttonous appetite for reading...She responds to 'a general European interest in storytelling, and in thinking about storytelling'...Byatt is a writer actively searching for sources of energy outside the comfort zone of British social fiction...[Readers must] be grateful to have the art of fiction reworked in such knowing hands, by one to whom the pleasures and rewards of reading are so fundamental. --John Updike, New Yorker
Reviews of this book: Byatt is at her best...the tone throughout these pieces remains consistent: eager, polite, informed, rushed. Not the least of the pleasures provided is that of having a respected writer reel off the names of some books she quite fancies. --Kirkus Reviews
Reviews of this book: British novelist Byatt weaves...disparate material together into a coherent artistic credo...[Readers] will be struck by Byatt's well-argued contention that 'European storytelling derives great energy from artifice, constraints and patterning.' --Publishers Weekly
Reviews of this book: In these seven essays, the British novelist Byatt examines many themes: the historical novel as created by twentieth-century English writers, the relations between scholarship and the creation of fiction, the modern European novel and its debt to mythology, and how fairy tales have influenced her and other modern authors...Plot summaries and extensive quotations from the selected texts will give readers an appetite to read the many novels discussed in these pieces. --Library Journal
Reviews of this book: Byatt defines and claims 'good reading' as her territory with elegance, economy and precision. And with a great deal more quotation from the writers she wants us to read closely than is usually the case these days...She, quite rightly, uses long quotations 'like the slides in an art historical lecture' because they are 'the Thing itself' that's crushed these days as literary theory has become a power game in which Derrida, Foucault and their followers 'make writers fit into the boxes and nets of theoretical quotations which, a writer must feel, excite most of them at present much more than literature does.' Byatt is genuinely excited by 'the Thing itself'--the historical narratives and storytelling--that she has found full of life and flourishing in Britain and Europe throughout the twentieth century in a body of works to which she has added her own contribution...Byatt's account of her 'search for impossible precision' in the writing of historical fiction is both an inspired and entertaining post-mortem on her own still-living and startled literary self, and a declaration of artistic and intellectual integrity against the historical relativism practiced by ideologues and propagandists of all persuasions these days...Byatt's arguments on behalf of forms of writing I've frequently disdained and writers I've entirely overlooked is sending my reading off in good new directions. That's her aim and she makes her points wonderfully well. --T. F. Rigelhof, Globe and Mail
Reviews of this book: On Histories and Stories is offered as a defense, more or less, of British and European writing since World War II against claims of a loss of vitality made by post-colonialist scholars and writers, prominently Salman Rushdie. The book also defends the historical novel against the conventional charge of being either costume drama, bodice-ripper or escapism of another kind. Mrs. Byatt's definition of "historical" is far broader than that, extending, for instance, to a novel like Martin Amis' Time's Arrow which had for its protagonist a former Nazi officer whose life got replayed backwards. Third, Mrs. Byatt writes in defense of teaching literature--not "creative writing," she doesn't do that--by emphasizing good reading in the manner of the New Critic I. A. Richards, that is, avoidance of stock responses and sticking to the text themselves. She also believes in extensive use of quotation in the manner of F. R. Leavis in his day--this rather than quoting from Jacques Derrida and others who, while doing exhilarating work, have led to "modern scholarship's increasing use of the techniques and attitudes of art." Criticism, in her view, should be written in readily accessible language. --Colin Walters, Washington Times
Reviews of this book: The A.S. Byatt of On Histories and Stories, a collection that derives, in part, from lectures she gave at Emory and Yale universities, is a generous writer. She is generous to the writers she sees as her literary ancestors and colleagues, and she is unusually generous to her readers, whom she invites to step behind the curtain to observe the set-building and scene-painting, the research and rehearsal that precede the enactment of her own fictions. --Michael Frank, Los Angeles Times Book Review
Reviews of this book: Each essay [in this collection] exhaustively examines either the process of storytelling, or the thematic relationships between texts Byatt favors or considers a part of the canon. And what composes the canon, Byatt argues in her introduction, should in fact be less politicized than it has become...Byatt does not deny how deeply politics are embedded in literary production but regrets the subsumation of a writer's art into its social politics...It is certain that the essays in this collection, broad ranging and appreciative as they are of a variety of writings and writers, fulfill her description for what criticism should be. --Jacqueline L. McGrath, PIF Magazine
On Life: A Critical Edition
Leo Tolstoy, Edited by Inessa Medzhibovskaya, Translated from the Russian by Michael Denner and Inessa Medzhibovskaya Northwestern University Press, 2019 Library of Congress BD431.T5613 2019 | Dewey Decimal 128
In the summer of 1886, shortly before his fifty-eighth birthday, Leo Tolstoy was seriously injured while working in the fields of his estate. Bedridden for over two months, Tolstoy began writing a meditation on death and dying that soon developed into a philosophical treatise on life, death, love, and the overcoming of pessimism. Although begun as an account of how one man encounters and laments his death and makes this death his own, the final work, On Life, describes the optimal life in which we can all be happy despite our mortality.
After its completion, On Life was suppressed by the tsars, attacked by the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church, and then censored by the Stalinist regime. This critical edition is the first accurate translation of this unsung classic of Russian thought into English, based on a study of manuscript pages of Tolstoy's drafts, and the first scholarly edition of this work in any language. It includes a detailed introduction and annotations, as well as historical material, such as early drafts, documents related to the presentation of an early version at the Moscow Psychological Society, and responses to the work by philosophers, religious leaders, journalists, and ordinary readers of Tolstoy's day.
A thought-provoking examination of beauty using three works of art by Manet, Gauguin, and Cézanne. As the discipline of art history has moved away from connoisseurship, the notion of beauty has become increasingly problematic. Both culturally and personally subjective, the term is difficult to define and nearly universally avoided. In this insightful book, Richard R. Brettell, one of the leading authorities on Impressionism and French art of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, dares to confront the concept of modern beauty head-on. This is not a study of aesthetic philosophy, but rather a richly contextualized look at the ambitions of specific artists and artworks at a particular time and place.
Brettell shapes his manifesto around three masterworks from the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Édouard Manet’s Jeanne (Spring), Paul Gauguin’s Arii Matamoe (The Royal End), and Paul Cézanne’s Young Italian Woman at a Table. The provocative discussion reveals how each of these exceptional paintings, though depicting very different subjects—a fashionable actress, a preserved head, and a weary working woman—enacts a revolutionary, yet enduring, icon of beauty.
While teaching in Japan, Judith Pascoe was fascinated to discover the popularity that Emily Brontë’s novel Wuthering Heights has enjoyed there. Nearly one hundred years after its first formal introduction to the country, the novel continues to engage the imaginations of Japanese novelists, filmmakers, manga artists, and others, resulting in numerous translations, adaptations, and dramatizations. On the Bullet Train with Emily Brontë is Pascoe’s lively account of her quest to discover the reasons for the continuous Japanese embrace of Wuthering Heights. At the same time, the book chronicles Pascoe’s experience as an adult student of Japanese. She contemplates the multiple Japanese translations of Brontë, as contrasted to the single (or nonexistent) English translations of major Japanese writers. Carrying out a close reading of a distant country’s Wuthering Heights, Pascoe begins to see American literary culture as a small island on which readers are isolated from foreign literature.
On the Shoulders of Giants collects previously unpublished essays from the last fifteen years of Umberto Eco’s life. With humor and erudition, one of the great contemporary thinkers takes on the roots of Western culture, the origin of language, the nature of beauty and ugliness, the imperfections of art, and the lure of mysteries.
During a 1960 interview, East German writer Christa Wolf was asked a curious question: would she describe in detail what she did on September 27th? Fascinated by considering the significance of a single day over many years, Wolf began keeping a detailed diary of September 27th, a practice which she carried on for more than fifty years until her death in 2011. The first volume of these notes covered 1960 through 2000 was published to great acclaim more than a decade ago. Now translator Katy Derbyshire is bringing the September 27th collection up to date with One Day a Year—a collection of Wolf’s notes from the last decade of her life.
The book is both a personal record and a unique document of our times. With her characteristic precision and transparency, Wolf examines the interplay of the private, subjective, and major contemporary historical events. She writes about Germany after 9/11, about her work on her last great book City of Angels, and also about her exhausting confrontation with old age. One Day a Year is a compelling and personal glimpse into the life of one of the world’s greatest writers.
French poet Paul Verlaine, a major representative of the Symbolist Movement during the latter half of the nineteenth century, was one of the most gifted and prolific poets of his time. Norman Shapiro's superb translations display Verlaine's ability to transform into timeless verse the essence of everyday life and make evident the reasons for his renown in France and throughout the Western world.
"Shapiro's skillfully rhymed formal translations are outstanding." —St. Louis Post-Dispatch "Best Book of 1999"
"Paul Verlaine's rich, stylized, widely-variable oeuvre can now be traced through his thirty years of published volumes, from 1866 to 1896, in a set of luminous new translations by Norman Shapiro. . . . [His] unique translations of this whimsical, agonized music are more than adequate to bring the multifarious Verlaine to a new generation of English speakers." —Genevieve Abravanel, Harvard Review
"Shapiro demonstrates his phenomenal ability to find new rhymes and always follows Verlaine's rhyme schemes." —Carrol F. Coates, ATA Chronicle
The concept of mastery straddles a largely unexamined seam in contemporary thought dividing admirable self-control from a reprehensible will to power. Although Joseph Conrad has traditionally been viewed as an admirable master—master mariner, storyteller, and writer—his reputation has been linked in recent years to the negative masteries of racism, imperialism, and patriarchy.
In this book, Geoffrey Galt Harpham delves not only into Conrad's literary work and reputation but also into the concept of mastery. Outlining a psychology of composition that embraces Conrad's personal as well as historical circumstances, Harpham sheds new light on traditional issues in Conrad criticism, such as his Polish background and his preoccupation with the sea, by linking them to less frequently discussed subjects, including his elusive sexuality and his idiosyncratic relation to the English language.
One of Us represents both a methodological innovation in the practice of literary criticism and an important contribution to our understanding of how masters—and canons based on them—are made.
Walter Benjamin Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PN6283.B413 2016 | Dewey Decimal 838.91209
Presented in a new edition with expanded notes, this genre-defying meditation on the semiotics of late-1920s Weimar culture, composed of 60 short prose pieces that vary wildly in style and theme, offers a fresh opportunity to encounter Walter Benjamin at his most virtuosic and experimental, writing in a vein that anticipates later masterpieces.
Only Among Women examines idealized relationships between women in Russian literature and culture from the age of the classic Russian novel to socialist realism and Stalinist film. It reveals how the idea of a community of women—a social sphere ostensibly free from the taint of money, sex, or self-interest—originates in the classic Russian novel, fuels mystical notions of unity in turn-of-the-century modernism, and finally assumes a place of privilege in Stalinist culture, especially cinema.
Rethinking the significance and surprising continuities of gender in Russian and Soviet culture, Eakin Moss relates this tradition to Western philosophies of community developed by thinkers from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Jean-Luc Nancy. She shows that in the 1860s friendship among women came to figure as an organic national collectivity in works such as Tolstoy’s War and Peace and a model for revolutionary organization in Chernyshevsky’s What Is To Be Done?.
Only Among Women also traces how women’s community came to be connected with new religious and philosophical notions of a unity transcending the individual at the fin-de-siècle. Finally, in Stalinist propaganda of the 1930s, the notion of women’s community inherited from the Russian novel reemerged in the image of harmonious female workers serving as a patriarchal model for loyal Communist citizenship.
Alex Woloch Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PR6029.R8Z89 2015 | Dewey Decimal 828.91209
There have been many studies of George Orwell, but nothing quite like this book by Alex Woloch—an exuberant, revisionary account of Orwell’s radical writing. Bearing down on the propulsive irony and formal restlessness intertwined with his plain-style, Woloch offers a new understanding of Orwell and a new way of thinking about writing and politics.
Montaigne’s Essays are treasured for their philosophical and moral insights and the fascinating portrait they give us of the man who wrote them, but another of their undoubted delights is that they tantalize the reader, offering beneath an apparent disorder some hints of a hidden plan. After all, though the essayist kept adding new pages, except when he added the third and final book he never added a new chapter, but worked within the structure already in place.
Order in Disorder: Intratextual Symmetry in Montaigne’s “Essais,” by Randolph Paul Runyon, offers a new answer to the question of how ordered the Essays may be. Following up on Montaigne’s likening them to a painter’s “grotesques” surrounding a central image, and seeing in this an allusion to the ancient Roman decorative style, rediscovered in the Renaissance, of symmetrical motifs on either side of a central image, Runyon uncovers an extensive network of symmetrical verbal echoes linking every chapter with another. Often two chapters of greatly different length and apparent importance (one on thumbs, for instance, balanced against one on the limits of human understanding) will in this way be brought together—not without, Runyon finds, an intended irony. The Essays emerge as even more self-reflexive than we thought, an amazingly intratextual work.
In literary studies today, debates about the purpose of literary criticism and about the place of formalism within it continue to simmer across periods and approaches. Anna Kornbluh contributes to—and substantially shifts—that conversation in The Order of Forms by offering an exciting new category, political formalism, which she articulates through the co-emergence of aesthetic and mathematical formalisms in the nineteenth century. Within this framework, criticism can be understood as more affirmative and constructive, articulating commitments to aesthetic expression and social collectivity.
Kornbluh offers a powerful argument that political formalism, by valuing forms of sociability like the city and the state in and of themselves, provides a better understanding of literary form and its political possibilities than approaches that view form as a constraint. To make this argument, she takes up the case of literary realism, showing how novels by Dickens, Brontë, Hardy, and Carroll engage mathematical formalism as part of their political imagining. Realism, she shows, is best understood as an exercise in social modeling—more like formalist mathematics than social documentation. By modeling society, the realist novel focuses on what it considers the most elementary features of social relations and generates unique political insights. Proposing both this new theory of realism and the idea of political formalism, this inspired, eye-opening book will have far-reaching implications in literary studies.
In this study of modernist aesthetics, Beryl Schlossman reveals how for such writers as Marcel Proust, Gustave Flaubert, and Charles Baudelaire, the Orient came to symbolize the highest aspirations of literary representation. She demonstrates that through allegory, modernism became a style itself, a style that married the ancient and the modern and that emerged as both a cause and an effect, both an ideal construct and an textual materiality, all symbolized by the Orient—land of style, place of plurality, and site of the coexistence of holy lands. Toward the end of Remembrance of Things Past, the narrator describes the act of creating a work of art as a conversion of sensation into a spiritual equivalent. By means of such allegories of “conversion,” Schlossman shows, the modernist artist disappeared within the work of art and left behind the trace of his sublime vocation, a vocation in which he was transformed, in Schlossman’s words, “into a kind of priest kneeling at the altar of beauty before the masked divinity of representation.” The author shows how allegory—the representation of the symbolic as something real—was adapted by modernist writers to reflect subjectivity while masking an authorial origin. She reveals how modernist allegory arose, as Walter Benjamin suggests, at the crossroads of history, sociology, economics, urban architecture, and art—providing a kind of map of capitalism—and was produced through the eyes of a melancholic gazing at a “monument of absence.”
Focusing on the 17th-century play of mourning, Walter Benjamin identifies allegory as the constitutive trope of modernity, bespeaking a haunted, bedeviled world of mutability and eternal transience. In this rigorous elegant translation, history as trauerspiel is the condition as well as subject of modern allegory in its inscription of the abyssal.
The Origins of Free Verse
H. T. Kirby-Smith University of Michigan Press, 1998 Library of Congress PS309.F7K57 1996 | Dewey Decimal 811.009
H. T. Kirby-Smith offers a far-ranging and intellectually engaging study of the literary history of the debated genre of free verse, aimed not at perpetuating a particular dispute but instead at discovering the generative points of this often celebrated, often maligned form.
Though free verse became a dominant poetic mode only in the twentieth century, Kirby-Smith finds its roots in seventeenth-century England. Beginning his study with writers such as John Milton--who was considered by T. S. Eliot to be the greatest writer of free verse in English--the author places recent and divisive topics in poetics in context, showing them to be attenuated remnants of issues first broached hundreds of years ago.
The book seeks to establish a consensus on the nature of free verse, with reference to critics and poets including Pound, Eliot, Williams, Amy Lowell, Yvor Winters, and Hugh Kenner. Good free verse, argues Kirby-Smith, arises as a reaction to a well-established set of conventions. Likewise, The Origins of Free Verse goes against the conventions of existing poetic scholarship, offering an encompassing yet fresh--and controversial--literary history of free verse.
"At moments, this study is revelatory. . . . In its range and detail it offers a way of thinking about the history of English-language prosody which recognizes the importance of the poet's individual choices and undercuts our century's vanity. . . . Poetry is a learned art, and Kirby-Smith brings both insight and much learning to reading it." --Times Literary Supplement
"The best study of free verse I have seen. . . . The Origins of Free Verse is a book that all students of prosody will want to read. " --Harvard Review
". . . a witty and polemical account of the emergence and development of free verse." --Choice
H. T. Kirby-Smith is Professor of English, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
The appearance of David R. Slavitt's translation of Orlando Furioso ("Mad Orlando"), one of the great literary achievements of the Italian Renaissance, is a publishing event. With this lively new verse translation, Slavitt introduces readers to Ariosto's now neglected masterpiece - a poem whose impact on Western literature can scarcely be exaggerated. Slavitt's translation captures the energy, comedy, and great fun of Ariosto's Italian.
Ornament as Crisis explores the ways in which the novels of Hermann Broch’s Sleepwalkers (Schlafwandler) trilogy participate in and employ the history of architecture and architectural theory.
Beginning with the visual and architectural experiences of the figures in each novel, Sarah McGaughey analyzes the role of architecture in the trilogy as a whole, while discussing work by Broch’s contemporaries on architecture. She argues that The Sleepwalkers allows us to better understand how literature responds and contributes to social, theoretical, and spatial concepts of architecture. Ornament as Crisis guides readers through the spaces of Broch’s mdernist masterpiece and the architectural debates of his time.
Ornamentalism is the first book to focus on Renaissance accessories, their histories and meanings. The collection's eminent contributors bring accessories to the center of a discussion about material culture, dress, and adornment, exploring their use, significance, and multiple lives. Defining an “accessory” in the broadest sense—including scents, veils, handkerchiefs, lingerie, codpieces, dildos, jewels, ruffs, wax seals, busks, shoes, scissors, and even boys—the book provides a rich cultural history that’s eclectic and bold, including discussions of bodily functions, personal hygiene, and sexuality.
Lively, well-written, and richly illustrated with color plates, Ornamentalism will appeal to scholars of the material past and social practice, and those interested in fashion studies, manners and morals, gender and sexuality, theater and performance.
Studies of the English Romantic poets generally portray them either as transcending the workings of capitalism or as working in complicity with an entrepreneurial economy. In The Orphaned Imagination, Guinn Batten challenges standard accounts of Romantic poetry and argues that Wordsworth, Byron, Blake, Shelley, Keats, and Coleridge—each of whom suffered the loss of a father or father-figure at an early age—possessed an orphan’s special insight into the dynamics and aesthetics of commodity culture and its symptomatic melancholia. Building on the theoretical insights of Slavoj Zizek, Judith Butler, Julia Kristeva, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Batten interweaves the discourses of psychoanalysis, economics, biography, sexuality, melancholy, value, and exchange to question accepted ideas of how Romantic poetry works. She asserts that poetic labor is in fact paradigmatic of the kinds of production—and the kinds of desire—that capitalist culture renders invisible. If symbolic exchange, in cash or in words, requires the surrender of a beloved object, if healthy mourning requires an orphan to “work through” emotional loss through the consolation of art or a love for the living, then the rebellious Romantic poet, Batten contends, possessed unique insight into the alternative authority of a poetic language that renounced a culture of denial. Batten urges that scholars move beyond critical approaches condemning allegedly regressive forms of pleasure, recognizing that they, too, are haunted by melancholic attachments to dead poets as they conduct their work. The Orphaned Imagination will interest anyone concerned with the claims of the English Romantic poets to a distinctive, valuable form of knowledge and those who may wonder about the power of contemporary theory to illuminate a traditional field.
Dino Campana Oberlin College Press, 1984 Library of Congress PQ4809.A52C313 1984 | Dewey Decimal 851.912
This vivid presentation of Campana demonstrates why Italian readers have cherished his poems since the first appearance of Canti Orfici in 1914. Charles Wright’s translation, Jonathan Galassi’s introduction, and, as afterword, Montale’s thoughtful essay on Campana, identify the heart of this poet’s achievement.
Orwell: Life and Art
Jeffrey Meyers University of Illinois Press, 2010 Library of Congress PR6029.R8Z73555 2010 | Dewey Decimal 828.91209
This remarkable volume collects, for the first time, essays representing more than four decades of scholarship by one of the world's leading authorities on George Orwell. In clear, energetic prose that exemplifies his indefatigable attention to Orwell's life work, Jeffrey Meyers analyzes the works and reception of one of the most widely read and admired twentieth-century authors.
Orwell: Life and Art covers the novelist's painful childhood and presents accounts of his autobiographical writings from the beginning of his career through the Spanish Civil War. Meyers continues with analyses of Orwell's major works, including Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, as well as his style, distinctive satiric humor, and approach to the art of writing. Meyers ends with a scrupulous examination of six biographies of Orwell, including his own, that embodies a consummate grasp and mastery of both the art of biography and Orwell's life and legacy.
Writing with an authority born of decades of focused scholarship, visits to Orwell's homes and workplaces, and interviews with his survivors, Meyers sculpts a dynamic view of Orwell's enduring influence on literature, art, culture, and politics.
Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture: The Making of a Legend explores the meteoric rise, sudden fall, and legendary resurgence of an immensely influential writer’s reputation from his hectic 1881 American lecture tour to recent Hollywood adaptations of his dramas. Always renowned—if not notorious—for his fashionable persona, Wilde courted celebrity at an early age. Later, he came to prominence as one of the most talented essayists and fiction writers of his time.
In the years leading up to his two-year imprisonment, Wilde stood among the foremost dramatists in London. But after he was sent down for committing acts of “gross indecency” it seemed likely that social embarrassment would inflict irreparable damage to his legacy. As this volume shows, Wilde died in comparative obscurity. Little could he have realized that in five years his name would come back into popular circulation thanks to the success of Richard Strauss’s opera Salome and Robert Ross’s edition of De Profundi. With each succeeding decade, the twentieth century continued to honor Wilde’s name by keeping his plays in repertory, producing dramas about his life, adapting his works for film, and devising countless biographical and critical studies of his writings.
This volume reveals why, more than a hundred years after his demise, Wilde’s value in the academic world, the auction house, and the entertainment industry stands higher than that of any modern writer.
Better known in 1882 as a cultural icon than a serious writer, Oscar Wilde was brought to North America for a major lecture tour on Aestheticism and the decorative arts. With characteristic aplomb, he adopted the role as the ambassador of Aestheticism, and he tried out a number of phrases, ideas, and strategies that ultimately made him famous as a novelist and playwright. This exceptional volume cites all ninety-one of Wilde's interviews and contains transcripts of forty-eight of them, and it also includes his lecture on his travels in America.
“I do not say you are it, but you look it, and you pose at it, which is just as bad,” Lord Queensbury challenged Oscar Wilde in the courtroom—which erupted in laughter—accusing Wilde of posing as a sodomite. What was so terrible about posing as a sodomite, and why was Queensbury’s horror greeted with such amusement? In Oscar Wilde Prefigured, Dominic Janes suggests that what divided the two sides in this case was not so much the question of whether Wilde was or was not a sodomite, but whether or not it mattered that people could appear to be sodomites. For many, intimations of sodomy were simply a part of the amusing spectacle of sophisticated life.
Oscar Wilde Prefigured is a study of the prehistory of this “queer moment” in 1895. Janes explores the complex ways in which men who desired sex with men in Britain had expressed such interests through clothing, style, and deportment since the mid-eighteenth century. He supplements the well-established narrative of the inscription of sodomitical acts into a homosexual label and identity at the end of the nineteenth century by teasing out the means by which same-sex desires could be signaled through visual display in Georgian and Victorian Britain. Wilde, it turns out, is not the starting point for public queer figuration. He is the pivot by which Georgian figures and twentieth-century camp stereotypes meet. Drawing on the mutually reinforcing phenomena of dandyism and caricature of alleged effeminates, Janes examines a wide range of images drawn from theater, fashion, and the popular press to reveal new dimensions of identity politics, gender performance, and queer culture.
Nicholas Frankel presents a revisionary account of Oscar Wilde’s final years, spent in poverty and exile in Europe following his release from an English prison for the crime of gross indecency between men. Despite repeated setbacks and open hostility, Wilde—unapologetic and even defiant—attempted to rebuild himself as a man, and a man of letters.
Oscar Wilde's Decorated Books addresses Wilde's obsession with the visual appearance or "look" of his published writings. It examines the role played by graphic designers in the production of Wilde's writings and demonstrates how marginal and decorative elements of the printed book affect interpretation.
Nicholas Frankel approaches Wilde's writings as graphical or "printed" phenomena that reveal their significance through the beautiful and elaborate decorations with which they were published in Wilde's own lifetime. With extensive reference to and exposition on Wilde's theoretical writings and letters, the author shows that, far from being marginal elements of the literary text, these decorative devices were central to Wilde's understanding of his own writings as well as to his "aesthetic" theory of language. Extensive illustrations support Frankel's arguments.
While its principal appeal will be to students of Oscar Wilde and the Victorian fin-de-siècle, this book will also appeal to textual and literary scholars, art historians, and linguistic philosophers interested in the graphical nature of the linguistic sign.
Nicholas Frankel is Assistant Professor of English, Virginia Commonwealth University.
Following an international conference organized at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw in 2013, Oskar Hansen—Opening Modernism analyzes diverse aspects of the architectural, theoretical, and didactical oeuvre of Oskar Hansen, who was the Polish member of Team 10, a group of architects that challenged standard views of urbanism more than fifty years ago. In chronicling the impact of Hansen’s theory of “Open Form” on architecture, urban planning, experimental film, and visual arts in postwar Poland, this volume traces the flow of architectural ideas in a Europe divided by the Cold War. Through discussions of the ideas of openness and participation in state-socialist economies, Oskar Hansen—Opening Modernism offers new insights into exhibition design and the interrelations of architecture, visual arts, and the state.
A natural heir of the Renaissance and once tightly conjoined to its study, continental philosophy broke from Renaissance studies around the time of World War II. In The Other Renaissance, Rocco Rubini achieves what many have attempted to do since: bring them back together. Telling the story of modern Italian philosophy through the lens of Renaissance scholarship, he recovers a strand of philosophic history that sought to reactivate the humanist ideals of the Renaissance, even as philosophy elsewhere progressed toward decidedly antihumanist sentiments.
Bookended by Giambattista Vico and Antonio Gramsci, this strand of Renaissance-influenced philosophy rose in reaction to the major revolutions of the time in Italy, such as national unity, fascism, and democracy. Exploring the ways its thinkers critically assimilated the thought of their northern counterparts, Rubini uncovers new possibilities in our intellectual history: that antihumanism could have been forestalled, and that our postmodern condition could have been entirely different. In doing so, he offers an important new way of thinking about the origins of modernity, one that renews a trust in human dignity and the Western legacy as a whole.
Our Lady of Victorian Feminism is about three nineteenth-century women, Protestants by background and feminists by conviction, who are curiously and crucially linked by their extensive use of the Madonna in arguments designed to empower women.
In the field of Victorian studies, few scholars have looked beyond the customary identification of the Christian Madonna with the Victorian feminine ideal—the domestic Madonna or the Angel in the House. Kimberly VanEsveld Adams shows, however, that these three Victorian writers made extensive use of the Madonna in feminist arguments. They were able to see this figure in new ways, freely appropriating the images of independent, powerful, and wise Virgin Mothers.
In addition to contributions in the fields of literary criticism, art history, and religious studies, Our Lady of Victorian Feminism places a needed emphasis on the connections between the intellectuals and the activists of the nineteenth-century women's movement. It also draws attention to an often neglected strain of feminist thought, essentialist feminism, which proclaimed sexual equality as well as difference, enabling the three writers to make one of their most radical arguments, that women and men are made in the image of the Virgin Mother and the Son, the two faces of the divine.
Our Vampires, Ourselves
Nina Auerbach University of Chicago Press, 1995 Library of Congress GR830.V3A92 1995 | Dewey Decimal 820.9375
Nina Auerbach shows how every age embraces the vampire it needs, and gets the vampire it deserves. Working with a wide range of texts, as well as movies and television, Auerbach locates vampires at the heart of our national experience and uses them as a lens for viewing the last two hundred years of Anglo-American cultural history.
"[Auerbach] has seen more Hammer movies than I (or the monsters) have had steaming hot diners, encountered more bloodsuckers than you could shake a stick at, even a pair of crossed sticks, such as might deter a very sophisticated ogre, a hick from the Moldavian boonies....Auerbach has dissected and deconstructed them with the tender ruthlessness of a hungry chef, with cogency and wit."—Eric Korn, Times Literary Supplement
"This seductive work offers profound insights into many of the urgent concerns of our time and forces us to confront the serious meanings that we invest, and seek, in even the shadiest manifestations of the eroticism of death."—Wendy Doniger, The Nation
"A vigorous, witty look at the undead as cultural icons."—Kirkus Review
"In case anyone should think this book is merely a boring lit-crit exposition...Auerbach sets matters straight in her very first paragraph. 'What vampires are in any given generation,' she writes, 'is a part of what I am and what my times have become. This book is a history of Anglo-American culture through its mutating vampires.'...Her book really takes off."—Maureen Duffy, New York Times Book Review
Ovid’s Causes offers a new reassessment of the poet’s longest and most difficult poem, the Metamorphoses. This poem has long been denied epic stature because of its stylistic and thematic diversity. K. Sara Myers demonstrates that the poem must be understood as the inheritor and interpreter of the Roman tradition of cosmological epic. She situates the poem in the traditions and conventions of Roman poetry and considers the ways in which it both fulfills and overturns the expectations of the epic genre.
The first and final chapters of this book examine the scientific and cosmological framework of the poem. Ovid’s juxtaposition of scientific and mythological explanations is an aspect of his sophisticated manipulation of truth and fiction, and of the claims of philosophical poetry and mythological poetry.
This illuminating study presents much useful material for students of Roman poetry or of Greek literary influences that profoundly influenced its development. Students and scholars of ancient poetical traditions will likewise find much of interest.
Ovid's poetry has in recent years enjoyed a remarkable renaissance: in particular, there has been a surge of interest in the Heroides, the Fasti, and his exile poetry. Ovid's Literary Loves, by Barbara Weiden Boyd, reopens the Amores for the modern reader. The volume establishes a context for the recent reception of the Amores, and proposes an alternative approach to the collection by discussing recent trends in the discussion of imitation in Roman poetry. A premise basic to most Ovidian studies has been that the Amores are not only imitative, but parodic, both of the elegiac genre writ large and of Propertius in particular. In contrast, Boyd emphasizes the many nonelegiac, non-Propertian features of the collection. Ovid's irony and its consequences are also discussed with special attention to the narrative structure of the three books.
Boyd's thoughtful approach to imitation in Latin poetry brings into prominence the formative role played by Virgil in shaping Ovid's "poetic memory," even in the Amores. The detailed examination of Ovidian extended similes shows how the poet exploits the literary past precisely in order to free himself from generic restraint and to expand the narrow horizons of elegy. Boyd argues that this paradox is the essence of Ovidian poetics.
Ovid's Literary Loves is an imaginative approach to imitation in Latin poetry and makes a significant contribution to current discussions of the subject. This is one of the first contemporary scholarly monographs on the Amores, and it will find a large and welcoming audience of Latinists at all levels of study.
Barbara Weiden Boyd is Associate Professor of Classics, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine.