In The Dark Thread, scholars examine a set of important and perennial narrative motifs centered on violence within the family as they have appeared in French, English, Spanish, and American literatures. Over fourteen essays, contributors highlight the connections between works from early modernity and subsequent texts from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries, in which incidents such as murder, cannibalism, poisoning, the burial of the living, the failed burial of the dead, and subsequent apparitions of ghosts that haunt the household unite “high” and “low” cultural traditions. This book questions the traditional separation between the highly honored genre of tragedy and the less respected and generally less well-known genres of histoires tragiques, gothic tales and novels, and horror stories.
Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
By focusing on the story of Hector, James M. Redfield presents an imaginative perspective not only on the Iliad but also on the whole of Homeric culture. In an expansive discussion informed by a reinterpretation of Aristotle's Poetics and a reflection on the human meaning of narrative art, the analysis of Hector leads to an inquiry into the fundamental features of Homeric culture and of culture generally in its relation to nature. Through Hector, as the "true tragic hero of the poem," the events and themes of the Iliad are understood and the function of tragedy within culture is examined. Redfield's work represents a significant application of anthropological perspectives to Homeric poetry. Originally published in 1975 (University of Chicago Press), this revised edition includes a new preface and concluding chapter by the author.
Contrary to some scholars, tragic poetry did not die with the rise of melodrama in nineteenth-century theater or the glowing secularism spread by the proliferation of liberal-scientific philosophies. Rather, artists found alternative means to portray tragic situations.Thomas Hardy's Tragic Poetry convincingly argues that Hardy's lyric poetry and The Dynasts occupy a pivotal place in the development of modern tragic poetry and drama, crystallizing the tragic feeling that surfaces intermittently in Romantic and Victorian poems and plays.
Many scholars have noted the tragic forms and themes of Thomas Hardy's novels, but the tragic quality of his lyric poems has received less critical attention. Katherine Maynard remedies that situation by tracing the emergence of the Hardyean figure—tragically isolated against the backdrop of a stark landscape, neutral universe, or indifferent social milieu—through both a review of critical opinion about tragedy's place within modern literature and a survey of the frustrated attempts by major nineteenth-century poets to write tragic drama. Hardy's epic-drama The Dynasts is seen as a fulcrum work, bearing many of the flaws of its dramatic forebears but also illustrating his use of contemporary science and philosophy in the service of dramatic irony. Maynard examines a significant sample of lyrics to identify the contribution of Hardy's poetry to our understanding of tragic literature. She places the thematic and formal innovations of Hardy's tragic poetry squarely within the main lines of development from Wordsworth's Solitary to Beckett's lone figures waiting in a desert for a Godot who never arrives.
Ultimately, Thomas Hardy's Tragic Poetry calls for a rereading of Hardy's poetry as "tragic," arguing that he was able, paradoxically, to incorporate these literary and philosophical conventions of his time which some critics insist signaled the death of tragic literature. This study will prove fascinating for Hardyists, students of nineteenth-century literature, and all those interested in the ongoing development of poetry.
Early modernity rediscovered tragedy in the dramas and the theoretical writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Attempting to make new tragic fictions, writers like Shakespeare, Webster, Hardy, Corneille, and Racine created a dramatic form that would probably have been unrecognizable to the ancient Athenians. Tragedy and the Return of the Dead recovers a model of the tragic that fits ancient tragedies, early modern tragedies, as well as contemporary narratives and films no longer called “tragic” but which perpetuate the same elements.
Authoritative, wide-ranging, and thought provoking, Tragedy and the Return of the Dead uncovers a set of interlocking plots of family violence that stretch from Greek antiquity up to the popular culture of today. Casting aside the elite, idealist view that tragedy manifests the conflict between two equal goods or the human struggle against the divine, John D. Lyons looks closely at tragedy’s staging of gory and painful deaths, ignominious burials, and the haunting return of ghosts. Through this adjusted lens Le Cid, Hamlet, Frankenstein, The Spanish Tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, Phèdre, Macbeth, and other early modern works appear in a striking new light. These works are at the center of a panorama that stretches from Aeschylus’s Agamemnon to Hitchcock’s Psycho and are placed against the background of the Gothic novel, Freud’s “uncanny,” and Burke’s “sublime.”
Lyons demonstrates how tragedy under other names, such as “Gothic fiction” and “thrillers,” is far from dead and continues as a vital part of popular culture.
Since its inception, the United States has been intensely preoccupied with interracialism. The concept is embedded everywhere in our social and political fabric, including our sense of national identity. And yet, in both its quantitative and symbolic forms, interracialism remains an extremely elusive phenomenon, causing policy makers and census boards to wrangle over how to delineate it and, on an emblematic level, stirring intense emotions from fear to fascination.
In The “Tragic Mulatta” Revisited, Eve Allegra Raimon focuses on the mixed-race female slave in literature, arguing that this figure became a symbolic vehicle for explorations of race and nation—both of which were in crisis in the mid-nineteenth century. At this time, judicial, statutory, social, and scientific debates about the meaning of racial difference (and intermixture) coincided with disputes over frontier expansion, which were never merely about land acquisition but also literally about the “complexion” of that frontier. Embodying both northern and southern ideologies, the “amalgamated” mulatta, the author argues, can be viewed as quintessentially American, a precursor to contemporary motifs of “hybrid” and “mestizo” identities.
Where others have focused on the gendered and racially abject position of the “tragic mulatta,” Raimonreconsiders texts by such central antislavery writers as Lydia Maria Child, William Wells Brown, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Harriet Wilson to suggest that the figure is more usefully examined as a way of understanding the volatile and shifting interface of race and national identity in the antebellum period.
The tragic mulatta was a stock figure in nineteenth-century American literature, an attractive mixed-race woman who became a casualty of the color line. The tragic muse was an equally familiar figure in Victorian British culture, an exotic and alluring Jewish actress whose profession placed her alongside the “fallen woman.”
In Transatlantic Spectacles of Race, Kimberly Manganelli argues that the tragic mulatta and tragic muse, who have heretofore been read separately, must be understood as two sides of the same phenomenon. In both cases, the eroticized and racialized female body is put on public display, as a highly enticing commodity in the nineteenth-century marketplace. Tracing these figures through American, British, and French literature and culture, Manganelli constructs a host of surprising literary genealogies, from Zelica to Daniel Deronda, from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Lady Audley’s Secret. Bringing together an impressive array of cultural texts that includes novels, melodramas, travel narratives, diaries, and illustrations, Transatlantic Spectacles of Race reveals the value of transcending literary, national, and racial boundaries.