The similes in Homer are treasure troves. They describe scenes of Greek life that are not presented in their simplest form anywhere else: landscapes and seascapes, storms and calm weather, fighting among animals, civic disputes, athletic contests, horse races, community entertainment, women involved in their daily tasks, men running their farms and orchards. These basic paratactic additions to the narrative show how the Greeks found and developed parallels between two scenes—each of which elucidated and interpreted the other—then expressed those scenes in effective poetic language. In The Artistry of the Homeric Simile, Scott explores the variations and modifications that Homer employs in order to make similes blend expressively with the larger context. This engaging study will help unlock the richness of Homer for the modern reader.
Beckett’s Art of Mismaking
Leland de la Durantaye Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PR6003.E282Z624755 2016 | Dewey Decimal 842.914
Leland de la Durantaye helps us understand Beckett’s strangeness and notorious difficulty by arguing that Beckett’s lifelong campaign was to mismake on purpose—not to denigrate himself, or his audience, or reconnect with the child or savage within, but because he believed that such mismaking is in the interest of art and will shape its future.
Kevin Ohi begins this energetic book with the proposition that to read Henry James—particularly the late texts—is to confront the queer potential of style and the traces it leaves on the literary life. In contrast to other recent critics, Ohi asserts that James’s queerness is to be found neither in the homoerotic thematics of the texts, however startlingly explicit, nor in the suggestions of same-sex desire in the author’s biography, however undeniable, but in his style.
For Ohi, there are many elements in the style that make James’s writing queer. But if there is a thematic marker, Ohi shows through his careful engagements with these texts, it is belatedness. The recurrent concern with belatedness, Ohi explains, should be understood not psychologically but stylistically, not as confessing the sad predicament of being out of sync with one’s life but as revealing the consequences of style’s refashioning of experience. Belatedness marks life’s encounter with style, and it describes an experience not of deprivation but of the rich potentiality of the literary work that James calls “freedom.” In Ohi’s reading, belatedness is the indicator not of sublimation or repression, nor of authorial self-sacrifice, but of the potentiality of the literary—and hence of the queerness of style.
Presenting original readings of a series of late Jamesian texts, the book also represents an exciting possibility for queer theory and literary studies in the future: a renewed attention to literary form and a new sounding—energized by literary questions of style and form—of the theoretical implications of queerness.
Lyrical Strategies advances the highly original idea that not all literary fiction should be read as a novel. Instead, Katie Owens-Murphy identifies a prominent type of American novel well suited to the reading methods of lyric poetry and exhibiting lyric frameworks of structural repetition, rhythm, figurative meaning, dramatic personae, and exclusive address.
Owens-Murphy surveys a broad array of writers: poets from the lyrical transatlantic tradition, as well as American novelists including Gertrude Stein, Jean Toomer, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, and Cormac McCarthy. Through a masterful reexamination of canonical works of twentieth-century American fiction through the lens of lyric poetry, she reveals how many elements in these novels can be better understood as poetic and rhetorical figures (metaphysical conceit, polysyndeton, dramatic monologue, apostrophe, and so on) than as narrative ones.
Making fresh contributions to literary theory and American fiction, Lyrical Strategies will fascinate readers and scholars of the American novel, fiction, poetry, and poetics alike.
Why should Salman Rushdie describe his truth telling as an act of swallowing impure “haram“ flesh from which the blood has not been drained? Why should Rudyard Kipling cast Kim, the imperial child–agent, as a body/text written upon and damaged by empire? Why should E. M. Forster evoke through the Indian landscape the otherwise unspeakable racial or homosexual body in his writing? In Making Words Matter: The Agency of Colonial and Postcolonial Literature, Ambreen Hai argues that these writers focus self–reflectively on the unstable capacity of words to have material effects and to be censored, and that this central concern with literary agency is embedded in, indeed definitive of, colonial and postcolonial literature.
Making Words Matter contends that the figure of the human body is central to the self–imagining of the text in the world because the body uniquely concretizes three dimensions of agency: it is at once the site of autonomy, instrumentality, and subjection. Hai’s work exemplifies a new trend in postcolonial studies: to combine aesthetics and politics and to offer a historically and theoretically informed mode of interpretation that is sophisticated, lucid, and accessible.
This is the first study to identify and examine the rich convergence of issues and to chart their dynamic. Hai opens up the field of postcolonial literary studies to fresh questions, engaging knowledgeably with earlier scholarship and drawing on interdisciplinary theory to read both well known and lesser–known texts in a new light. It should be of interest internationally to students and scholars in a variety of fields including British, Victorian, modernist, colonial, or postcolonial literary studies, queer or cultural studies, South Asian studies, history, and anthropology.
Mark Twain and Metaphor
John Bird University of Missouri Press, 2007 Library of Congress PS1341.B57 2007 | Dewey Decimal 818.409
Metaphor theory, observes John Bird, is like Mark Twain: both seem simple upon first introduction. Now, in the most complete study to date of Twain’s use of figurative language, a veteran Twain scholar tackles the core of his writing and explores it with theoretical approaches that have rarely been applied to Twain, providing new insights into how he imagined his world—and the singular ways in which he expressed himself.
From “The Jumping Frog” to the late dream narratives, Bird considers Twain’s metaphoric construction over his complete career and especially sheds new light on his central texts: Roughing It; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court; Pudd’nhead Wilson; and No. 44,The Mysterious Stranger. He reconsiders “Old Times on the Mississippi” as the most purely metaphorical of Twain’s writings, goes on to look at how Twain used metaphor and talked about it in a variety of works and genres, and even argues that Clemens’s pseudonym is not so much an alter ego as a metaphorized self.
By offering insight into how Twain handled figurative language during the composing process, Bird reveals not only hidden facets of his artistry but also new aspects of works that we think we know well—including some entirely new ideas regarding Huck Finn that draw on the recent discovery of the first half of the manuscript. In addition to dealing with issues currently central to Twain studies, such as race and gender, he also links metaphor to humor and dream theory to further illuminate topics central to his work.
More than a study of Twain’s language, the book delves into the psychological aspects of metaphor to reveal the writer’s attitudes and thoughts, showing how using metaphor as a guide to Twain reveals much about his composition process. Applying the insights of metaphor theorists such as Roman Jakobson and Colin M. Turbayne, Bird offers readers not only new insights into Twain but also an introduction to this interdisciplinary field.
In lively prose, Mark Twain and Metaphor provides a vital way to read Twain’s entire corpus, allowing readers to better appreciate his style, humor, and obsession with dreams. It opens new ground and makes old ground fresh again, offering ways to see and resee this essential American writer.
When the impulse toward innovation arises late in a writer's career, it is often accompanied by a sense of urgency, and the result, as Narrative Innovation and Incoherence demonstrates, raises important questions for literary theory. Michael M. Boardman considers this pressing struggle to find a new form as it appears in the later works of Defoe, Goldsmith, Austen, Eliot, and Hemingway. He analyzes how these authors react to new and compelling beliefs for which a previous way of writing is no longer adequate. Urgent innovations, in this account, can only be understood as unique, individual responses to crises in belief. Taking as a point of departure French theorist Althusser's conviction that ideology is intelligible only through structure, Boardman searches for an explanation of both form and ideology not in Marxist concepts of base and superstructure but in the particular structure of an individual artist's writing career. Narrative ideology here becomes more complex than is generally assumed. Theoretically informed yet avoiding essentializing explanations of narrative invention, Narrative Innovation and Incoherence offers unexpected insights into the multifaceted relations between form and belief. It will encourage serious students of the novel to reexamine the importance of poetics as a mediating factor in the means of production.
In this book, Robert Hariman demonstrates how matters of style—of diction, manners, sensibility, decor, and charisma—influence politics.
In critical studies of classic texts, Hariman identifies four dominant political styles. The realist style, as found in Machiavelli's The Prince, creates a world of sheer power, constant calculation, and emotional control; this style is the common sense of modern political science. The courtly style, depicted in Kapuscinski's The Emperor, is characterized by high decorousness, hierarchies, and fixation on the body of the sovereign; this style infuses mass media coverage of the American presidency. The republican style, reflected in Cicero's letters to Atticus, promotes the art of oratory, consensus, and civility; it informs our ideal of democratic conversation. The bureaucratic style, as captured in Kafka's The Castle, emphasizes institutional procedures, official character, and the priority of writing; this style structures everday life.
Hariman looks at effective political artistry in figures from antiquity to modern politicians such as Vaclav Havel, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. He discusses the crises to which each style is susceptible, as well as the social and moral consequences of each style's success.
Retracing the Platonic Text
John Russon and John Sallis Northwestern University Press, 1999 Library of Congress PA4291.R48 2000 | Dewey Decimal 184
Written from a Continental perspective, Retracing the Platonic Text reveals dimensions of the dialogues that are not addressed by traditional philosophy. These essays by prominent scholars focus on the texts' literary elements, in particular challenges to contemporary interpretations of the Platonic dialogue as a whole. The result illustrates the depth of Platonic thought and the debt of all philosophy to it. Retracing the Platonic Text is a pioneering effort in demonstrating how Continental philosophy both reflects and expands upon Greek philosophy.
In an age of interpretation, style eludes criticism. Yet it does so much tacit work: telling time, telling us apart, telling us who we are. What does style have to do with form, history, meaning, our moment’s favored categories? What do we miss when we look right through it? Senses of Style essays an answer. An experiment in criticism, crossing four hundred years and composed of nearly four hundred brief, aphoristic remarks, it is a book of theory steeped in examples, drawn from the works and lives of two men: Sir Thomas Wyatt, poet and diplomat in the court of Henry VIII, and his admirer Frank O’Hara, the midcentury American poet, curator, and boulevardier. Starting with puzzle of why Wyatt’s work spoke so powerfully to O’Hara across the centuries, Jeff Dolven ultimately explains what we talk about when we talk about style, whether in the sixteenth century, the twentieth, or the twenty-first.
In the interpretation of Shakespeare, wordplay has often been considered inconsequential, frequently reduced to a decorative "quibble." But in Shakespeare from the Margins: Language, Culture, Context, Patricia Parker, one of the most original interpreters of Shakespeare, argues that attention to Shakespearean wordplay reveals unexpected linkages, not only within and between plays but also between the plays and their contemporary culture.
Combining feminist and historical approaches with attention to the "matter" of language as well as of race and gender, Parker's brilliant "edification from the margins" illuminates much that has been overlooked, both in Shakespeare and in early modern culture. This book, a reexamination of popular and less familiar texts, will be indispensable to all students of Shakespeare and the early modern period.
Prince of Darkness or Angel of Light? The pastoral masterpiece the Soledades garnered both titles for its author, Luis de Góngora, one of Spain's premier poets. In The Soledades, Góngora's Masque of the Imagination, Marsha S. Collins focuses on the brilliant seventeenth-century Spanish poet's contentious work of art. The Soledades have sparked controversy since they were first circulated at court in 1612-1614 and continue to do so even now, as Góngora has become for some critics the poster child of postmodernism. These perplexing 2,000-plus line pastoral poems garnered endless debates over the value and meaning of the author's enigmatic, challenging poetry and gave rise to his reputation, causing his very name to become an English term for obscurity.
Collins views these controversial poems in a different light, as a literary work that is a product of European court culture. She shows that the Soledades are in essence a court masque, an elaborate theatrical genre that combines a variety of cultural forms and that unfolds in the mind of the reader. Collins maintains that far from serving as an example of "art for art's sake," the Soledades represent Góngora's bid to transform poetic language into a new kind of visionary discourse that allows readers to access secret truths invisible to the average member of the reading public.
Each of Collins's four chapters analyzes a different facet of the Soledades, offering readers varied means of approaching Góngora's great work and helping the audience read the poems with greater understanding and appreciation.
The Soledades, Góngora's Masque of the Imagination demystifies the daunting, hermetic language of the Soledades to make this masterpiece of imperial Spain accessible to a new, and wider, circle of modern readers. Collins's book transports readers to the court of Habsburg Spain, offering a window to court culture—art, music, alchemy, emblems, garden architecture—and revealing the remarkable beauty of one of Spain's greatest literary masterpieces. Interdisciplinary and cross-cultural in approach, this book will appeal to all Hispanists, including those interested in the current "New Baroque" vogue in Hispanic scholarship, as well as specialists in Renaissance and Baroque English and European literature.
Some Words of Jane Austen
Stuart M. Tave University of Chicago Press, 2019 Library of Congress PR4038.S8T3 2019 | Dewey Decimal 823.7
Jane Austen’s readers continue to find delight in the justness of her moral and psychological discriminations. But for most readers, her values have been a phenomenon more felt than fully apprehended. In this book, Stuart M. Tave identifies and explains a number of the central concepts across Austen’s novels—examining how words like “odd,” “exertion,” and, of course, “sensibility,” hold the key to understanding the Victorian author’s language of moral values. Tracing the force and function of these words from Sense and Sensibility to Persuasion, Tave invites us to consider the peculiar and subtle ways in which word choice informs the conduct, moral standing, and self-awareness of Austen’s remarkable characters.
Being human while trying to scientifically study human nature confronts us with our most vexing problem. Efforts to explicate the human mind are thwarted by our cultural biases and entrenched infirmities; our first-person experiences as practical agents convince us that we have capacities beyond the reach of scientific explanation. What we need to move forward in our understanding of human agency, Paul Sheldon Davies argues, is a reform in the way we study ourselves and a long overdue break with traditional humanist thinking.
Davies locates a model for change in the rhetorical strategies employed by Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species. Darwin worked hard to anticipate and diminish the anxieties and biases that his radically historical view of life was bound to provoke. Likewise, Davies draws from the history of science and contemporary psychology and neuroscience to build a framework for the study of human agency that identifies and diminishes outdated and limiting biases. The result is a heady, philosophically wide-ranging argument in favor of recognizing that humans are, like everything else, subjects of the natural world—an acknowledgement that may free us to see the world the way it actually is.
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894) loved more than anything to talk about the craft of writing and the pleasure of reading good books. His dedication to the creative impulse manifests itself in the extraordinary amount of work he produced in virtually every literary genre—fiction, poetry, travel writing, and essays—in a short and peripatetic life. His letters, especially, confess his elation at the richness of words and the companionship of books, often projected against ill health and the shadow of his own mortality.
Stevenson belonged to a newly commercial literary world, an era of mass readership, marketing, and celebrity. He had plenty of practical advice for writers who wanted to enter the profession: study the best authors, aim for simplicity, strike a keynote, work on your style. He also held that a writer should adhere to the truth and utter only what seems sincere to his or her heart and experience of the world. Writers have messages to deliver, whether the work is a tale of Highland adventure, a collection of children’s verse, or an essay on umbrellas. Stevenson believed that an author could do no better than to find the appetite for joy, the secret place of delight that is the hidden nucleus of most people’s lives. His remarks on how to write, on style and method, and on pleasure and moral purpose contain everything in literature and life that he cared most about—adventuring, persisting, finding out who you are, and learning to embrace “the romance of destiny.”
How did slavery and race impact American literature in the nineteenth century? In this ambitious book, Michael T. Gilmore argues that they were the carriers of linguistic restriction, and writers from Frederick Douglass to Stephen Crane wrestled with the demands for silence and circumspection that accompanied the antebellum fear of disunion and the postwar reconciliation between the North and South.
Proposing a radical new interpretation of nineteenth-century American literature, The War on Words examines struggles over permissible and impermissible utterance in works ranging from Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” to Henry James’s The Bostonians. Combining historical knowledge with groundbreaking readings of some of the classic texts of the American past, The War on Words places Lincoln’s Cooper Union address in the same constellation as Margaret Fuller’s feminism and Thomas Dixon’s defense of lynching. Arguing that slavery and race exerted coercive pressure on freedom of expression, Gilmore offers here a transformative study that alters our understanding of nineteenth-century literary culture and its fraught engagement with the right to speak.
In this pioneering study, Robin
Lydenberg focuses upon the stylistic accomplishments of this controversial and
experimental writer. In doing so, she skillfully demonstrates that the ideas
we now recognize as characteristic of post-structuralism and deconstruction
were being developed independently by Burroughs long ago.