An Aesthetics of Injury exposes wounding as a foundational principle of modernism in literature and film. Theorizing the genre of the narrative wound—texts that aim not only to depict but also to inflict injury—Ian Fleishman reveals harm as an essential aesthetic strategy in ten exemplary authors and filmmakers: Charles Baudelaire, Franz Kafka, Georges Bataille, Jean Genet, Hélène Cixous, Ingeborg Bachmann, Elfriede Jelinek, Werner Schroeter, Michael Haneke, and Quentin Tarantino.
Violence in the modernist mode, an ostensible intrusion of raw bodily harm into the artwork, aspires to transcend its own textuality, and yet, as An Aesthetics of Injury establishes, the wound paradoxically remains the essence of inscription. Fleishman thus shows how the wound, once the modernist emblem par excellence of an immediate aesthetic experience, comes to be implicated in a postmodern understanding of reality reduced to ceaseless mediation. In so doing, he demonstrates how what we think of as the most real object, the human body, becomes indistinguishable from its “nonreal” function as text. At stake in this tautological textual model is the heritage of narrative thought: both the narratological workings of these texts (how they tell stories) and the underlying epistemology exposed (whether these narrativists still believe in narrative at all).
With fresh and revealing readings of canonical authors and filmmakers seldom treated alongside one another, An Aesthetics of Injury is important reading for scholars working on literary or cinematic modernism and the postmodern, philosophy, narratology, body culture studies, queer and gender studies, trauma studies, and cultural theory.
As animals recede from our world, what tale is being told by literature’s creatures? Behold an Animal: Four Exorbitant Readings examines incongruous animals in the works of four major contemporary French writers: an airborne horse in a novel by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, extinct orangutans in Éric Chevillard, stray dogs in Marie NDiaye, vanishing (bits of) hedgehogs in Marie Darrieussecq. Resisting naturalist assumptions that an animal in a story is simply—literally or metaphorically—an animal, Thangam Ravindranathan understands it rather as the location of something missing. The animal is a lure: an unfinished figure fleeing the frame, crossing bounds of period, genre, even medium and language. Its flight traces an exorbitant (self-)portrait in which thinking admits to its commerce with life and flesh. It is in its animals, at the same time unbearably real and exquisitely unreal, that literature may today be closest to philosophy.
This book’s primary focus is the contemporary French novel and continental philosophy. In addition to Toussaint, Chevillard, NDiaye, and Darrieussecq, it engages the work of Jean de La Fontaine, Eadweard Muybridge, Edgar Allan Poe, Lewis Carroll, Samuel Beckett, and Francis Ponge.
Black Venus is a feminist study of the representations of black women in the literary, cultural, and scientific imagination of nineteenth-century France. Employing psychoanalysis, feminist film theory, and the critical race theory articulated in the works of Frantz Fanon and Toni Morrison, T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting argues that black women historically invoked both desire and primal fear in French men. By inspiring repulsion, attraction, and anxiety, they gave rise in the nineteenth-century French male imagination to the primitive narrative of Black Venus. The book opens with an exploration of scientific discourse on black females, using Sarah Bartmann, the so-called Hottentot Venus, and natural scientist Georges Cuvier as points of departure. To further show how the image of a savage was projected onto the bodies of black women, Sharpley-Whiting moves into popular culture with an analysis of an 1814 vaudeville caricature of Bartmann, then shifts onto the terrain of canonical French literature and colonial cinema, exploring the representation of black women by Baudelaire, Balzac, Zola, Maupassant, and Loti. After venturing into twentieth-century film with an analysis of Josephine Baker’s popular Princesse Tam Tam, the study concludes with a discussion of how black Francophone women writers and activists countered stereotypical representations of black female bodies during this period. A first-time translation of the vaudeville show The Hottentot Venus, or Hatred of Frenchwomen supplements this critique of the French male gaze of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Both intellectually rigorous and culturally intriguing, this study will appeal to students and scholars in the fields of nineteenth- and twentieth-century French literature, feminist and gender studies, black studies, and cultural studies.
Demons of the Night is a trove of haunting fiction—a gathering, for the first time in English, of the best nineteenth-century French fantastic tales. Featuring such authors as Balzac, Mérimée, Dumas, Verne, and Maupassant, this book offers readers familiar with the works of Edgar Allan Poe and E. T. A. Hoffman some of the most memorable stories in the genre. With its aura of the uncanny and the supernatural, the fantastic tale is a vehicle for exploring forbidden themes and the dark, irrational side of the human psyche.
The anthology opens with "Smarra, or the Demons of the Night," Nodier's 1821 tale of nightmare, vampirism, and compulsion, acclaimed as the first work in French literature to explore in depth the realm of dream and the unconscious. Other stories include Balzac's "The Red Inn," in which a crime is committed by one person in thought and another in deed, and Mérimée's superbly crafted mystery, "The Venus of Ille," which dramatizes the demonic power of a vengeful goddess of love emerging out of the pagan past. Gautier's protagonist in "The Dead in Love" develops an obsessive passion for a woman who has returned from beyond the grave, while the narrator of Maupassant's "The Horla" imagines himself a victim of psychic vampirism.
Joan Kessler has prepared new translations of nine of the thirteen tales in the volume, including Gérard de Nerval's odyssey of madness, "Aurélia," as well as two tales that have never before appeared in English. Kessler's introduction sets the background of these tales—the impact of the French Revolution and the Terror, the Romantics' fascination with the subconscious, and the influence of contemporary psychological and spiritual currents. Her essay illuminates how each of the authors in this collection used the fantastic to articulate his own haunting obsessions as well as his broader vision of human experience.
In The Enemy Within, Gilbert D. Chaitin deepens our understanding of the nature and sources of culture wars during the French Third Republic. The psychological trauma caused by the Ferry educational reform laws of 1880-1882, which strove to create a new national identity based on secular morality rather than God-given commandments, pitted Catholics against proponents of lay education and gave rise to novels by Bourget, Barrès, A. France, and Zola.
By deploying Lacanian concepts to understand the “erotics of politics” revealed in these novels, Chaitin examines the formation of national identity, offering a new intellectual history of the period and shedding light on the intimate relations among literature, education, philosophy, morality, and political order. The mechanisms described in The Enemy Within provide fresh insight into the affective structure of culture wars not only in the French Third Republic but elsewhere in the world today.
In Experiments with Empire Justin Izzo examines how twentieth-century writers, artists, and anthropologists from France, West Africa, and the Caribbean experimented with ethnography and fiction in order to explore new ways of knowing the colonial and postcolonial world. Focusing on novels, films, and ethnographies that combine fictive elements and anthropological methods and modes of thought, Izzo shows how empire gives ethnographic fictions the raw materials for thinking beyond empire's political and epistemological boundaries. In works by French surrealist writer Michel Leiris and filmmaker Jean Rouch, Malian writer Amadou Hampâté Bâ, Martinican author Patrick Chamoiseau, and others, anthropology no longer functions on behalf of imperialism as a way to understand and administer colonized peoples; its relationship with imperialism gives writers and artists the opportunity for textual experimentation and political provocation. It also, Izzo contends, helps readers to better make sense of the complicated legacy of imperialism and to imagine new democratic futures.
In Fiction Rivals Science, Allen Thiher describes the epistemic rivalry that the major nineteenth-century French novelists felt in dealing with science. After brief considerations of Stendhal, Thiher focuses on the four most important "realist" novelists in France: Balzac, Flaubert, Zola, and, going into the twentieth century, Proust. According to Thiher, each of these novelists considered himself to be in competition with science to make the novel an instrument for knowledge.
The first chapter sets forth the understanding of science that dominated the early nineteenth century in order to make it plausible that literary minds, throughout the nineteenth century, thought that they could not only rival science, but even make positive contributions to knowledge. The Newtonian paradigm that had dominated the Enlightenment was slowly being challenged by new developments both in physics and in nonphysical sciences such as biology. Especially in biology the development of a scientific discourse using narrative temporality favored the idea that novelists could also use fiction to construct discourses that advanced knowledge.
Balzac wanted to construct a natural history of society and correct the chemical theory of his time. Flaubert drew upon medicine and physiology for the rhetoric of his realist fiction. Zola used unsuccessful medical paradigms for his doctrine of heredity, and models drawn from thermodynamics to describe the relation of the individual to societal forces. Finally, Proust drew upon thinkers such as Poincar‚ to elaborate an epistemology that put an end to the rivalry novelists might feel with scientists. Proust located certain knowledge within the realm of human subjectivity while granting the power of laws to rule over the contingent realm of physical reality, in which, after Poincar‚, neither mathematics nor Newton was any longer a source of absolute certainty. Proust's novel is thus the last great realist work of the nineteenth century and the first modernist work of consciousness taking itself as the object of knowledge.
By demonstrating that the great French realist novelists dealt with many of the same problems as did the scientists of the nineteenth century, Fiction Rivals Science attempts to show how culture unites literary and scientific inquiry into knowledge. Providing a new interpretation of the development of literary realism, this important new work will be welcomed not only by literary scholars, but by historians of science and culture as well.
Stendhal, George Sand, Rachilde, Georges Bataille: Forgoing the patronym, with its weight of meaning, these modern French writers renamed themselves in their work. Their use of pseudonyms, as Maryline Lukacher demonstrates in this provocative study, is part of a process to subvert the name of the father and explore the suppressed relation to the figure of the mother. Combining psychoanalytic criticism, feminist theory, and literary analysis, Maternal Fictions offers a complex psychological portrait of these writers who managed at once to challenge patriarchal authority and at the same time attempt to return to the maternal. Through readings of Armance, Le Rouge et le noir, La Vie de Henry Brulard, and Les Cenci, Lukacher exposes Stendhal's preoccupation with his dead mother, who is obsessively retrieved throughout his work. George Sand's identity is, in effect, divided between two mothers, her biological mother and her grandmother, and in Histoire de ma vie,Indiana, and Mauprat, we see the writer's efforts to break the impasse created by this divided identity. In the extraordinary but too little known work of Rachilde (Marguerite Eymery), Lukacher finds the maternal figure identified as the secret inner force of patriarchal oppression. This resistance to feminism continues in the pseudonymous work of Georges Bataille. In Ma mère, Le coupable, and L’Expérience intérieure Lukacher traces Bataille’s representation of the mother as a menacing, ever subversive figure who threatens basic social configurations. Maternal Fictions establishes a new pseudonymous genealogy in modern French writing that will inform and advance our understanding of the act of self-creation that occurs in fiction.
Novel Gazing is the first collection of queer criticism on the history of the novel. The contributors to this volume navigate new territory in literary theory with essays that implicitly challenge the "hermeneutic of suspicion" widespread in current critical theory. In a stunning introductory essay, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick delineates the possibilities for a criticism that would be "reparative" rather than cynical or paranoid. The startlingly imaginative essays in the volume explore new critical practices that can weave the pleasures and disorientations of reading into the fabric of queer analyses. Through discussions of a diverse array of British, French, and American novels—including major canonical novels, best-sellers, children’s fiction, and science fiction—these essays explore queer worlds of taste, texture, joy, and ennui, focusing on such subjects as flogging, wizardry, exorcism, dance, Zionist desire, and Internet sexuality. Interpreting the works of authors as diverse as Benjamin Constant, Toni Morrison, T. H. White, and William Gibson, along with canonical queer modernists such as James, Proust, Woolf, and Cather, contributors reveal the wealth of ways in which selves and communities succeed in extracting sustenance from the objects of a culture whose avowed desire has often been not to sustain them. The dramatic reframing that these essays perform will make the significance of Novel Gazing extend beyond the scope of queer studies to literary criticism in general.
Contributors. Stephen Barber, Renu Bora, Anne Chandler, James Creech, Tyler Curtain, Jonathan Goldberg, Joseph Litvak, Michael Lucey, Jeff Nunokawa, Cindy Patton, Jacob Press, Robert F. Reid-Pharr, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Melissa Solomon, Kathryn Bond Stockton, John Vincent, Maurice Wallace, Barry Weller
Focusing on Stendhal, Gérard de Nerval, George Sand, Émile Zola, and Marcel Proust, The Novel Map: Mapping the Self in Nineteenth-Century French Fiction explores the ways that these writers represent and negotiate the relationship between the self and the world as a function of space in a novel turned map.
With the rise of the novel and of autobiography, the literary and cultural contexts of nineteenth-century France reconfigured both the ways literature could represent subjects and the ways subjects related to space. In the first-person works of these authors, maps situate the narrator within the imaginary space of the novel. Yet the time inherent in the text’s narrative unsettles the spatial self drawn by the maps and so creates a novel self, one which is both new and literary. The novel self transcends the rigid confines of a map. In this significant study, Patrick M. Bray charts a new direction in critical theory.
It is Doris Kadish's contention in this book that gender and politics went hand-in-hand in the nineteenth century; that nineteenth-century works can often be read as retellings of the French Revolution; and that the political meanings of these works can be gleaned through the study of narrative strategies that she chooses to call "semiotic readings." Building on the work of Marina Warner, Lynn Hunt, Joan Landes, Nancy Armstrong, Foucault and others, she shows how the strategy of politicizing gender during and after the revolution served many functions--among them to articulate representations of revolution, to form the nineteenth-century public sphere, to constitute bourgeois ideology, to distance the unruly masses, and ultimately, perhaps, to express a deep seated fear of women as a threat to the status quo. Looking at the French and English novel, and even selected relevant paintings in this way, she is able to read much-read texts in new and refreshing ways. She shows us how a collective story or master narrative of the revolution was retold and refashioned throughout the century, even where we might least expect to find it. She looks first at small details in order to see the larger patterns, and is among the first to show us how semiotics may make a contribution to gender studies.
The Price of Literature examines the presence of theory in the nineteenth-century French novel, something Proust likened to leaving a price tag on a gift. Emerging after the French Revolution, what we now call literature was conceived as an art liberated from representational constraints. Patrick M. Bray shows how literature’s freedom to represent anything at all has meant, paradoxically, that it cannot articulate a coherent theory of itself—unless this theory is a necessarily subversive literary representation, or “the novel’s theoretical turn.”
Literary thought, or the theory produced by the text, can only function by exploring what escapes dominant representations. The Price of Literature analyzes how certain iconic texts from the nineteenth century (by Mme de Staël, Hugo, Balzac, Flaubert, and Proust) perform a theoretical turn to claim the freedom to represent anything in the world, but also literature’s ability to transform the world it represents. The conclusion advances a new way of thinking about literary scholarship—one based on how literature redistributes ways of writing by lending form to thought.
In Real Time David F. Bell explores the decisive impact the accelerated movement of people and information had on the fictions of four giants of French realism--Balzac, Stendhal, Dumas, and Zola.
Nineteenth-century technological advances radically altered the infrastructure of France, changing the ways ordinary citizens–-and literary characters--viewed time, space, distance, and speed. The most influential of these advances included the improvement of the stagecoach, the growth of road and canal networks leading to the advent of the railway, and the increasing use of mail, and of the optical telegraph. Citing examples from a wide range of novels and stories, Bell demonstrates the numerous ways in which these trends of acceleration became not just literary devices and themes but also structuring principles of the novels themselves.
Beginning with both the provincial and the Parisian communications networks of Balzac, Bell proceeds to discuss the roles of horses and optical telegraphs in Stendhal and the importance of domination of communication channels to the characters of Dumas, whose Count of Monte-Cristo might be seen as the ultimate fictional master of this accelerated culture. Finally, Bell analyzes the cinematic vision created by the arrival of the railroad, as depicted by Zola in La Bète Humaine.
Through readings of works by Marivaux, Diderot, Rousseau, and Mary Shelley, David Marshall provides a new interpretation of the eighteenth-century preoccupation with theatricality and sympathy. Sympathy is seen not as an instance of sensibility or natural benevolence but rather as an aesthetic and epistemological problem that must be understood in relation to the problem of theatricality.
Placing novels in the context of eighteenth-century writing about theater, fiction, and painting, Marshall argues that an unusual variety of authors and texts were concerned with the possibility of entering into someone else's thoughts and feelings. He shows how key eighteenth-century works reflect on the problem of how to move, touch, and secure the sympathy of readers and beholders in the realm of both "art" and "life." Marshall discusses the demands placed upon novels to achieve certain effects, the ambivalence of writers and readers about those effects, and the ways in which these texts can be read as philosophical meditations on the differences and analogies between the experiences of reading a novel, watching a play, beholding a painting, and witnessing the spectacle of someone suffering. The Surprising Effects of Sympathy traces the interaction of sympathy and theater and the artistic and philosophical problems that these terms represent in dialogues about aesthetics, moral philosophy, epistemology, psychology, autobiography, the novel, and society.
In Unbecoming Language, Annabel L. Kim examines a corpus of French writing against difference. Inaugurated by Nathalie Sarraute and sustained in the work of Monique Wittig and Anne Garréta, this corpus highlights three generations of the twentieth and recent twenty-first centuries and the direct chain of influence between them. Kim considers these writers, and the story of literature’s political potential, as a way of rereading and reinterpreting each writer’s individual corpus—rearticulating the strain of anti-difference feminist thought that has been largely forgotten in our (Anglo-American) histories of French feminisms.
Kim’s close readings ultimately enliven the current conversation in French studies by serving as a provocation to return to reading literary texts deeply and closely, without subordinating literature to a pre-existing ideological framework—to let literature speak, to let it theorize. Tracking the influence of these writers on each other, Kim provides a new, original French feminist poetics and demonstrates that Sarraute, Wittig, and Garréta’s work allows for a hollowing out of difference from within, allowing writers and readers to unbecome—to break free of identity and exist as subjectivities without subjecthood. In looking at these writers together, Kim provides a defense of literature as liberatory— capable of effecting personal and political change—and gives readers an experience of literature’s revolutionary possibilities.
Beginning in the late nineteenth century, French visual artists began incorporating Japanese forms into their work. The style, known as Japonisme, spanned the arts.
Identifying a general critical move from a literal to a more metaphoric understanding and presentation of Japonisme, Pamela A. Genova applies a theory of "aesthetic translation" to a broad response to Japanese aesthetics within French culture. She crosses the borders of genre, field, and form to explore the relationship of Japanese visual art to French prose writing of the mid- to late 1800s. Writing Japonisme focuses on the work of Edmond de Goncourt, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Émile Zola, and Stéphane Mallarmé as they witnessed, incorporated, and participated in an unprecedented cultural exchange between France and Japan, as both creators and critics. Genova’s original research opens new perspectives on a fertile and influential period of intercultural dynamics.