For fifteen centuries, legends of King Arthur have enthralled us. Born in the misty past of a Britain under siege, half-remembered events became shrouded in ancient myth and folklore. The resulting tales were told and retold, until over time Arthur, Camelot, Avalon, the Round Table, the Holy Grail, Excalibur, Lancelot, and Guinevere all became instantly recognizable icons. Along the way, Arthur’s life and times were recast in the mold of the hero’s journey: Arthur’s miraculous conception at Tintagel through the magical intercession of his shaman guide, Merlin; the childhood deed of pulling the sword from the stone, through which Arthur was anointed King; the quest for the Holy Grail, the most sacred object in Christendom; the betrayal of Arthur by his wife and champion; and the apocalyptic battle between good and evil ending with Arthur’s journey to the Otherworld.
Touching on all of these classic aspects of the Arthur tale, Christopher R. Fee seeks to understand Arthur in terms of comparative mythology as he explores how the Once and Future King remains relevant in our contemporary world. From ancient legend to Monty Python, Arthur: God and Hero in Avalon discusses everything from the very earliest versions of the King Arthur myth to the most recent film and television adaptations, offering insight into why Arthur remains so popular—a hero whose story still speaks so eloquently to universal human needs and anxieties.
Justin Weir develops a persuasive analysis of the complex relationship between authorial self-reflection and literary tradition in three of the most famous Russian novels of the first half of the twentieth century: Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, and Nabokov's The Gift. With Weir's innovative interpretation, and its compelling historical, cultural, and theoretical insights, The Author as Hero offers a new view of an important moment in the evolution of Russian literature.
"[A] brilliant and important book. . . . "
---Journal of Religion, on Silence in the Land of Logos
"[A]n invigorating reevaluation of both the ancient symbolic landscape and our preconceptions of it."
---American Journal of Philology, on Wandering in Ancient Greek Culture
Best known for his adventures during his homeward journey as narrated in Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus remained a major figure and a source of inspiration in later literature, from Greek tragedy to Dante's Inferno to Joyce's Ulysses. Less commonly known, but equally interesting, are Odysseus' "wanderings" in ancient philosophy: Odysseus becomes a model of wisdom for Socrates and his followers, Cynics and Stoics, as well as for later Platonic thinkers. From Villain to Hero: Odysseus in Ancient Thought follows these wanderings in the world of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, retracing the steps that led the cunning hero of Homeric epic and the villain of Attic tragedy to become a paradigm of the wise man.
From Villain to Hero explores the reception of Odysseus in philosophy, a subject that so far has been treated only in tangential or limited ways. Diverging from previous studies, Montiglio outlines the philosophers' Odysseus across the spectrum, from the Socratics to the Middle Platonists. By the early centuries CE, Odysseus' credentials as a wise man are firmly established, and the start of Odysseus' rehabilitation by philosophers challenges current perceptions of him as a villain. More than merely a study in ancient philosophy, From Villain to Hero seeks to understand the articulations between philosophical readings of Odysseus and nonphilosophical ones, with an eye to the larger cultural contexts of both. While this book is the work of a classicist, it will also be of interest to students of philosophy, comparative literature, and reception studies.
In a masterful work of cultural history, Charles Sprawson, himself an obsessional swimmer and fluent diver, explores the meaning that different cultures have attached to water. Sprawson compares the meaning various societies have assigned to swimming—from classical Greece and imperial Rome to nineteenth-century England and Germany and the U.S. and Japan in the last fifty years. Sprawson gives us fascinating glimpses of the great swimmer heroes: Byron leaping dramatically into the surf at Shelley’s beach funeral; Edgar Allen Poe’s lone and mysterious river-swims; Rupert Brooke swimming naked with Virginia Woolf; Hart Crane swallow-diving to his death in the Bay of Mexico; Johnny Weismuller as athlete and entertainer. Informed by the literature of Swinburne, Goethe, Scott Fitzgerald, and Yukio Mishima; the films of Reifenstahl and Vigo; the Hollywood “swimming musicals” of the 1930s; and delving in and out of Olympic history, Haunts of the Black Masseur is a celebration of swimming that explores aspects of culture in a heretofore unimagined way.
A young woman who lives in Bavaria, Nele is quiet, an introvert, preferring to go unnoticed and keep to herself. That reticence carries over to her relationship with her father, Hero—until, that is, she realizes that he is seriously ill, and in fact may even be dying. That realization prompts her to work up the gumption to introduce him to her boyfriend, a Nigerian immigrant. This new-found courage impresses Hero, who comes to respect his daughter and entrusts her with a secret: a cardboard box whose contents are a mystery. Hero tells her to distribute what she finds inside to her mother and siblings, but only after his death.
Inspired in part by King Lear, this enchanting novel of families, secrets, and love is the first of Root Leeb’s works to be translated into English and is sure to win new fans for this successful German writer.
Without resorting to the jargon often employed by contemporary critics, this book covers all major aspects and questions raised by the play. The text contains a thorough examination of the contrast between Athens and its dramatic opposite, Thebes, a contrast best represented by the comparison between each city's primary representative, Theseus or Creon. Wilson offers a radical rereading of the Oedipus riddle and concludes with a substantial discussion of the play's (and playwright's) role in providing a political and moral education for the troubled Athenian polis in the last decade of the tumultuous fifth century.
Joseph P. Wilson is Associate Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Scranton.
A Hero in His Time
Arthur A. Cohen University of Chicago Press, 1987 Library of Congress PS3553.O418H4 1988 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
All his life Yuri Maximovich Isakovsky, a minor Russian poet, editor of a journal of folk music, sometime English translator, has assiduously avoided power and politics—in fact, attention of any kind. How can it be, then, that the Soviet government has chosen him to attend a conference in the fabled land of bourgeois temptation itself, New York City? And not only that, but to do a "piece of work" for the KGB, to deliver a code message embedded in the text of a certain poem to be read in public along with his own . . .
"Cohen has achieved here a tour de force, bringing the idea of poetry to life in a messy little man, no hero at all, not even that much of a poet. . . . [The novel] is stately as well as funny, an authentically noble account of a celebrant. . . . It is the true article."—Geoffrey Wolff, New York Times Book Review
"Arthur Cohen catches fire. . . . A Hero in His Time represents for him a great imaginative leap, for we are shown the interior mental landscape of a middle-aged Russian-Jewish minor poet and . . . most astonishing is that we believe, without question, in this poet."—Doris Grumbach, Village Voice
"A tremendous achievement. . . . To have made this tremendous imaginative leap from the heart of American Jewishness to the heart of Russian Jewishness was a daring thing to do, and it has been accomplished with absolute conviction."—The Sunday Times (London)
"A rich compound of high seriousness and robust comedy."—Newsweek
The Hero in Transition
Ray B. Browne University of Wisconsin Press, 1983 Library of Congress E169.1.H365 1983 | Dewey Decimal 973
An investigation of society’s heroes during any time period will reveal the personnel deemed worthy of being emulated at that particular time by that particular society. There will be many old and time-tested figures, sometimes with new faces and new profiles; there will also be a mix of new faces. Thus the hero—like history itself—is constantly in transition, and both the hero and the transition are fundamental to the study of a culture. These essays turn the pantheon of heroes around before our eyes and reveal the many complicated aspects of hero worship.
A Hero of Our Time
Mikhail Lermontov Northwestern University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PG3337.L4G4133 2016 | Dewey Decimal 891.733
Translated from the Russian by Elizabeth Cheresh Allen
Mikhail Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time was the first modern Russian novel. Published in 1840, it set a model of penetrating observation and psychological depth that would come to typify Russian literature. Its "hero," Grigorii Pechorin, also established a character type that became known in Russian fiction as "the superfluous man"—widely familiar from Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground. At once driven by pride and wracked by self-doubt, both shockingly self-revealing and blindly self-deceived, he flounders to affirm himself in a social world he despises yet yearns to dominate. Pechorin is a troubling and unforgettable character. And A Hero of Our Time, which has provoked much controversy, is a novel not only central to Russian literature but fundamental to the Western literary tradition of the antihero.
Hero of the Angry Sky draws on the unpublished diaries, correspondence, informal memoir, and other personal documents of the U.S. Navy’s only flying “ace” of World War I to tell his unique story. David S. Ingalls was a prolific writer, and virtually all of his World War I aviation career is covered, from the teenager’s early, informal training in Palm Beach, Florida, to his exhilarating and terrifying missions over the Western Front. This edited collection of Ingalls’s writing details the career of the U.S. Navy’s most successful combat flyer from that conflict.
While Ingalls’s wartime experiences are compelling at a personal level, they also illuminate the larger, but still relatively unexplored, realm of early U.S. naval aviation. Ingalls’s engaging correspondence offers a rare personal view of the evolution of naval aviation during the war, both at home and abroad. There are no published biographies of navy combat flyers from this period, and just a handful of diaries and letters in print, the last appearing more than twenty years ago. Ingalls’s extensive letters and diaries add significantly to historians’ store of available material.
Serendipity placed David Johnston on Mount St. Helens when the volcano rumbled to life in March 1980. Throughout that ominous spring, Johnston was part of a team that conducted scientific research that underpinned warnings about the mountain. Those warnings saved thousands of lives when the most devastating volcanic eruption in U.S. history blew apart Mount St. Helens, but killed Johnston on the ridge that now bears his name. Melanie Holmes tells the story of Johnston's journey from a nature-loving Boy Scout to a committed geologist. Blending science with personal detail, Holmes follows Johnston through encounters with Aleutian volcanoes, his work helping the Portuguese government assess the geothermal power of the Azores, and his dream job as a volcanologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. Interviews and personal writings reveal what a friend called "the most unjaded person I ever met," an imperfect but kind, intelligent young scientist passionately in love with his life and work and determined to make a difference.
Praised as the first Russian novel of psychological realism and as a critique of the repressive era in which Mikhail Lermontov lived, A Hero of Our Time brought to life the political and social ideas that at that time could only be expressed indirectly. This latest volume in the acclaimed Northwestern/AATSEEL Critical Companions to Russian Literature series presents diverse perspectives of leading Slavic literary theorists and specialists, ethnologists, formalist critics, and Western humanists. Lending additional breadth and depth are conservative and radical reviews of the novel written at the time of its publication, plus two new essays, one on ethnic identity and the other on women's issues in the novel.
Lincoln as Hero
Frank J. Williams Southern Illinois University Press, 2012 Library of Congress E457.W729 2012 | Dewey Decimal 973.7092
Most Americans have considered, and still consider, Abraham Lincoln to be a heroic figure. From his humble beginnings to his leadership of a divided nation during the Civil War to his early efforts in abolishing slavery, Lincoln’s legacy is one of deep personal and political courage. In this unique and concise retelling of many of the key moments and achievements of Lincoln’s life and work, Frank J. Williams explores in detail what it means to be a hero and how Lincoln embodied the qualities Americans look for in their heroes.
Lincoln as Hero shows how—whether it was as president, lawyer, or schoolboy—Lincoln extolled the foundational virtues of American society. Williams describes the character and leadership traits that define American heroism, including ideas and beliefs, willpower, pertinacity, the ability to communicate, and magnanimity. Using both celebrated episodes and lesser-known anecdotes from Lincoln’s life and achievements, Williams presents a wide-ranging analysis of these traits as they were demonstrated in Lincoln’s rise, starting with his self-education as a young man and moving on to his training and experience as a lawyer, his entry onto the political stage, and his burgeoning grasp of military tactics and leadership.
Williams also examines in detail how Lincoln embodied heroism in standing against secession and fighting to preserve America’s great democratic experiment. With a focused sense of justice and a great respect for the mandates of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Lincoln came to embrace freedom for the enslaved, and his Emancipation Proclamation led the way for the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery. Lincoln’s legacy as a hero and secular saint was secured when his lifeended by assassination as the Civil War was drawing to a close
Touching on Lincoln’s humor and his quest for independence, justice, and equality, Williams outlines the path Lincoln took to becoming a great leader and an American hero, showing readers why his heroism is still relevant. True heroes, Williams argues, are successful not just by the standards of their own time but also through achievements that transcend their own eras and resonate throughout history—with their words and actions living on in our minds, if we are imaginative, and in our actions, if we are wise.
Univeristy Press Books for Public and Secondary Schools 2013 edition
With this edition of Requiem and Poem without a Hero, Swallow Press presents two of Anna Akhmatova's best-known works, ones that represent the poet at full maturity, and that most trenchantly process the trauma she and others experienced living under Stalin's regime.
Akhmatova began the three-decade process of writing Requiem in 1935 after the arrests of her son, Lev Gumilev, and her third husband. The autobiographical fifteen-poem cycle primarily chronicles a mother's wait-lining up outside Leningrad Prison every day for seventeen months-for news of her son's fate. But from this limbo, Akhmatova expresses and elevates the collective grief for all the thousands vanished under the regime, and for those left behind to speculate about their loved ones' fates. Poem without a Hero was similarly written over a long period. It takes as its focus the transformation of Akhmatova's beloved city of St. Petersburg-historically a seat of art and culture-into Leningrad. Taken together, these works plumb the foremost themes for which Akhmatova is known and revered. When Ohio University Press published D. M. Thomas's translations in 1976, it was the first time they had appeared in English. Under Thomas's stewardship, Akhmatova's words ring clear as a bell.
The trickster and the hero, found in so many of the world’s oral traditions, are seemingly opposed but often united in one character. Trickster and Hero provides a comparative look at a rich array of world oral traditions, folktales, mythologies, and literatures—from The Odyssey, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and Beowulf to Native American and African tales. Award-winning folklorist Harold Scheub explores the “Trickster moment,” the moment in the story when the tale, the teller, and the listener are transformed: we are both man and woman, god and human, hero and villain.
Scheub delves into the importance of trickster mythologies and the shifting relationships between tricksters and heroes. He examines protagonists that figure centrally in a wide range of oral narrative traditions, showing that the true hero is always to some extent a trickster as well. The trickster and hero, Scheub contends, are at the core of storytelling, and all the possibilities of life are there: we are taken apart and rebuilt, dismembered and reborn, defeated and renewed.