The first historically and internationally comprehensive collection of its kind, Essayists on the Essay is a path-breaking work that is nothing less than a richly varied sourcebook for anyone interested in the theory, practice, and art of the essay. This unique work includes a selection of fifty distinctive pieces by American, Canadian, English, European, and South American essayists from Montaigne to the present—many of which have not previously been anthologized or translated—as well as a detailed bibliographical and thematic guide to hundreds of additional works about the essay.
From a buoyant introduction that provides a sweeping historical and analytic overview of essayists’ thinking about their genre—a collective poetics of the essay—to the detailed headnotes offering pointed information about both the essayists themselves and the anthologized selections, to the richly detailed bibliographic sections, Essayists on the Essay is essential to anyone who cares about the form.
This collection provides teachers, scholars, essayists, and readers with the materials they need to take a fresh look at this important but often overlooked form that has for too long been relegated to the role of service genre—used primarily to write about other more “literary” genres or to teach young people how to write. Here, in a single celebratory volume, are four centuries of commentary and theory reminding us of the essay’s storied history, its international appeal, and its relationship not just with poetry and fiction but also with radio, film, video, and new media.
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.
If racially offensive epithets are banned on CNN air time and in the pages of USA Today, Jonathan Arac asks, shouldn’t a fair hearing be given to those who protest their use in an eighth-grade classroom? Placing Mark Twain’s comic masterpiece, Huckleberry Finn, in the context of long-standing American debates about race and culture, Jonathan Arac has written a work of scholarship in the service of citizenship. Huckleberry Finn, Arac points out, is America’s most beloved book, assigned in schools more than any other work because it is considered both the “quintessential American novel” and “an important weapon against racism.” But when some parents, students, and teachers have condemned the book’s repeated use of the word “nigger,” their protests have been vehemently and often snidely countered by cultural authorities, whether in the universities or in the New York Times and the Washington Post. The paradoxical result, Arac contends, is to reinforce racist structures in our society and to make a sacred text of an important book that deserves thoughtful reading and criticism. Arac does not want to ban Huckleberry Finn, but to provide a context for fairer, fuller, and better-informed debates.
Arac shows how, as the Cold War began and the Civil Rights movement took hold, the American critics Lionel Trilling, Henry Nash Smith, and Leo Marx transformed the public image of Twain’s novel from a popular “boy’s book” to a central document of American culture. Huck’s feelings of brotherhood with the slave Jim, it was implied, represented all that was right and good in American culture and democracy. Drawing on writings by novelists, literary scholars, journalists, and historians, Arac revisits the era of the novel’s setting in the 1840s, the period in the 1880s when Twain wrote and published the book, and the post–World War II era, to refute many deeply entrenched assumptions about Huckleberry Finn and its place in cultural history, both nationally and globally. Encompassing discussion of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, Ralph Ellison, Archie Bunker, James Baldwin, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, and Mark Fuhrman, Arac’s book is trenchant, lucid, and timely.
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.
The recent dedication of the World War II memorial and the sixtieth-anniversary commemoration of D-Day remind us of the hold that World War II still has over America's sense of itself. But the selective process of memory has radically shaped our picture of the conflict. Why else, for instance, was a 1995 Smithsonian exhibition on Hiroshima that was to include photographs of the first atomic bomb victims, along with their testimonials, considered so controversial? And why do we so readily remember the civilian bombings of Britain but not those of Dresden, Hamburg, and Tokyo?
Marianna Torgovnick argues that we have lived, since the end of World War II, under the power of a war complex—a set of repressed ideas and impulses that stems from our unresolved attitudes toward the technological acceleration of mass death. This complex has led to gaps and hesitations in public discourse about atrocities committed during the war itself. And it remains an enduring wartime consciousness, one most recently animated on September 11.
Showing how different events from World War II became prominent in American cultural memory while others went forgotten or remain hidden in plain sight, The War Complex moves deftly from war films and historical works to television specials and popular magazines to define the image and influence of World War II in our time. Torgovnick also explores the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann, the emotional legacy of the Holocaust, and the treatment of World War II's missing history by writers such as W. G. Sebald to reveal the unease we feel at our dependence on those who hold the power of total war. Thinking anew, then, about how we account for war to each other and ourselves, Torgovnick ultimately, and movingly, shows how these anxieties and fears have prepared us to think about September 11 and our current war in Iraq.
"Whispers of the Ancients helps us reconnect with the spirit of story that is a part of all our heritages. With respect for the wisdom of the past and with an eye toward the cross-cultural links that legends can make between us, Tamarack Song offers a gathering of tales and insightful comments that point the way back to the circle."
---Joseph Bruchac, author of more than 70 books for children and adults, including (with coauthor Michael J. Caduto) the best-selling Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children
It's easy to imagine yourself transported back to a time when an Elder might have told stories like those in Whispers of the Ancients around a glowing hearth. Thanks to Tamarack Song's storytelling skills, monsters, heroes, and shapeshifters come alive and open a doorway to the mysteries of life. Easily accessible to all ages, this is a book that speaks to each person at his or her own level of comprehension and need. It is as beautiful to read as it is to look at.
Stunning Aboriginal artwork by Moses (Amik) Beaver combines with provocative storytelling to renew, in all their traditional splendor, exceptional legends from around the world. Entertaining, profound, passionate, glorious---these are stories that illustrate and evoke themes common to everyone's life, with an ancient wisdom that helps the listener to cope with today's opportunities for tenderness, grief, passion, and irony.
Easily accessible to all ages, this is a book that speaks to each person at his or her own level of comprehension and need. It's as beautiful to read as it is to look at.
Tamarack Song has sought out the stories of the North African and Central Asian tribal peoples from whom he is descended, and he has listened to the tales of indigenous people from the tundra to the tropics. His books include Journey to the Ancestral Self, and he has contributed to Lois Einhorn's Forgiveness and Child Abuse. He is also a counselor, wilderness skills teacher, rites-of-passage guide, and founder of the Teaching Drum Outdoor School. Song lives in the Nicolet National Forest near Three Lakes, Wisconsin.
Moses (Amik) Beaver is an Ojibwe artist from the isolated fly-in community of Nibinamik (Summer Beaver), Ontario, three hundred miles north of Lake Superior. Grants from the Ontario Arts Council and other sources support his ongoing work with youth, and partial support for this book's illustrations comes from the District School Board of Nibinamik.