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Magical realism, primitivism and ethnography are historically and theoretically interrelated discourses. Mavellous folk and fairy tales, legends and myths are remote origins that received renewed attention with the rise of the avant-grade and American archaeology in the early twentieth century. In the Hispanic tradition, antecedents date back to medieval lore, which inspired chivalric and pastoral romances as well as the picaresque novel, finding a seminal synthesis in Don Quixote. In the New World, the Chronicles of the Indies, with their outlandish tales of discovery, drew not only from medieval and early Renaissance worldviews, but also from marvellous sources as varied as John Mandeville, Marco Polo, Ptolemy, Pliny and the Bible. Latin American authors have consistently cited these sources of magical realism, yet they looked at them through the prism of the avant-garde. Alejo Carpentier conceived of his seminal concept of lo real maravilloso americano as an answer to the Surrealists’ artificial merveilleux. Carpentier and Miguel Ángel Asturias, with his Surrealist view of the ancient Maya, coincided in late 1920s Paris with avant-garde primitivism and another magic realist, Venezuelan Arturo Uslar-Pietri, a close associate of Massimo Bontempelli, whose version of magical realism became their true spark, whereas Franz Roh’s influence in Latin America was negligible. Later authors like Juan Rulfo and Gabriel García Márquez significantly developed magical realist narratology, consolidating the Latin American trend and making it indispensable for understanding its international expansion based on the allegorical reinterpretation, and subversion, of dominant history – a crucial postcolonial endeavour for cultures around the world.
The collective nature of character is a defining aspect of magical realism in the Americas and arguably the mode’s most notable departure from the conventions of literary realism. Magical realist authors aim to express communal realities, whether political, historical and/or cultural. To this end, they create 'insubstantial' characters who are not individualized or given complex interior lives. Rather, their identity is relational and based in collective structures, whether family, class, culture and/or ideology. Given magical realism’s greater investment in political and cultural selfhood, characters tend toward archetype and their lives toward allegory. The magical realist strategy of minimizing individuality in favor of collective experience allows authors to foreground politics over personality. As readers, we are asked to focus not on single selves, but on the political arc of entire continents and cultures. The authors discussed are García Márquez, Carpentier, Allende, Borges, Donoso and Erdrich.
Chapter 8 introduces and establishes the theoretical premise of the “Narratives” portion of the book, namely that the received history of Song, as codified in the Song History of 1345, can be deconstructed as a metanarrative or “grand allegory.” The chapter explores similarities between daoxue historiography and Herbert Butterfield’s notion of “Whig history,” an account of Britain that rendered Whig political ascendency over the Tories historically inevitable. First, both are blatantly presentist: historical events are chosen because they contain positive or negative value as guidelines for present action. Both rely extensively upon abridgment to foreground these examples. Both generate clear heroes and villains whose earlier struggles presage the political conflicts of the present. And finally, both create a teleological trajectory of moral rectitude that ensures the ultimate intellectual and political triumph of the writer’s own beliefs. I use the term “grand allegory” because the Western notion of allegory indeed seems appropriate for how these late Song and Yuan historians accessed their own daoxue convictions to impose structure and meaning on the disparate data of Song history. The chapter introduces the three major thematic clusters that comprise the grand allegory as presented in the 1229 preface by Zhen Dexiu (1178–1235) to Chen Jun’s history of Song.
The final chapter, “The Rhythms of Song History” demonstrates that the positive Taizu–Qingli–Yuanyou axis of political value and the negative “lineage of evil” axis fused to create an image of dynastic history as a perpetual oscillation between political and moral florescence and decline. This last chapter postulates that these undulating historiographical cycles reflect not the moral battles between Confucian good and evil but the truly historical, political struggles between two conceptions of the Song state, one a kind of technocratic patrimonialism, the other a Confucian institutionalism. Transitions between these two modalities of governance produced the historical revisionism that gave eventual rise to the grand allegory. These were the Qingli period, the Yuanyou period, the early (pre-Qin Gui) Shaoxing period (1131–1138), and the Jiading (1208–1224) period. All of these eras experienced either defensive or offensive wars that sparked domestic political upheavals, and these political conflicts then generated historiographical revisionism. This chapter, and the book, concludes with a one paragraph summary of the allegory written using the rhetoric of Song Confucianism and the same paragraph then translated into the language of modern social science. This juxtaposition demonstrates the continuing influence of the grand allegory until modern times.
This chapter focuses on Clara Reeve’s The Old English Baron (1778), published during the early years of Britain’s war in America. It discusses how Reeve responded to Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764), not only by rejecting the extravagance of his work but also by situating her tale in fifteenth-century England. Attempting to recover the political significance of this decision in the context of the American war, it considers the way in which the novel offers an allusive narrative of national reconciliation and repair. Even as Reeve claimed that her ‘picture of Gothic times and manners’ served the improving purposes of ‘Romance’, however, her work also acknowledges that its resort to the Gothic past is unable entirely to escape the ‘melancholy retrospect’ of ‘History’. With Reeve’s distinction between history and romance in mind, the chapter concludes by suggesting that, through its mediation of Otranto, The Old English Baron helped to make the diverse resources of the Gothic past available to subsequent writers, and at the same time to ensure that its questioning of Britain’s Gothic inheritance remained integral to the tradition of ‘domestic Gothic’ that it inaugurated.
The introduction gives an overview of the Rose’s engagement with thirteenth-century thought. It considers how the text’s game with the literal and allegorical senses of its words frustrate attempts to take unambiguous meaning from its poetry. It considers how the poem’s deliberate ambiguity responds to the context of its composition, both to the context of the University of Paris, racked by philosophical controversies in second half of the thirteen century, and to contemporary trends in satirical, philosophical poetry, strongly influenced by Roman poet Ovid, exemplified by the De amore of Andreas Capellanus. After a consideration of the Rose’s influence on later medieval poetry, the introduction gives an overview of the different chapters in the collection.
Jean’s Rose, like that of Guillaume de Lorris, is a site of hermeneutic resistance that defies analysis and univocity. The second author in particular uses the integumentum to cultivate an unsettling relationship to University learning, somewhere between the popularisation of academic science and the desire to transgress and to digress. The romance’s final pages, when the pilgrim sets out on the road to paradise and when obscenity and soteriology become inextricably entangled, reveal the importance of hermeneutic negativity in Jean de Meun’s writing, echoing Reason’s oxymoronic speech on love and Genius’s doctrine of natural generation. Drawing on the Augustinian idea of interior speech in search of divine union and the spiritual inheritance of Neoplatonic and Cistercian negative theology, the end of the romance delights in subverting the paradigms of negative mysticism as much as it enjoys revelling in the artful obscenity of the pilgrim’s penetration of the ‘sanctuary’ of the Rose. This chapter investigates the workings of such negativity, which tests language by continually upending meaning and the pilgrim’s quest itself, leading to the destabilizing chaos of a paradoxical Rose-non-Rose.
This chapter considers how it might make sense to think of the allegorical fiction as philosophical. The unsettling figure at the heart of the Roman de la Rose Faux Semblant is a walking sophism, embodying the paradox sometimes known as the Cretan Liar’s paradox: he tells us that he is lying and that nothing that he says can be trusted. In a sense he represents an extreme case of the problem of all literary endeavours that claim to offer truth through falsehood. In his sermon on hypocrisy, Faux Sembant explicitly names Aristotle’s De sophisticis elenchis, implying a connection between the Rose’s hermeneutic problems and those considered as part of dialectical training in medieval schools. This chapter reads the Rose against the tradition of the De sophisticis and sophismata-literature to show the poem itself as offering an education in sophistry, taken in a broader sense than its use in language arts. Sophism and sophistry are used figuratively throughout the Rose to refer to hypocrisy and falseness of all kinds, including literary falseness. Rooted in the intellectual culture of the university, the Rose considers the value of lying and the benefits of reading a work that rarely means what it says.
In the metalepsis situated at the centre of the text, the God of Love disorients the reader with the revelation that the romance that the latter was sure of having read has not yet been written and that it will be the work of two authors of which the first is in danger of dying and the second has not yet been born. In the verses in question, which take their inspiration not only from ‘Parisian philosophy’ but also from the ‘legalists’ of Orléans and the teachings of Joachim of Fiore (by means of Gerard de Borgo San Donnino), an authorial hypostasis takes place (or a supposition according to Scholastic terminology), which is expressed through the triad ‘Guillaume de Lorris’ – ‘God of Love’ – ‘Jean Chopinel’, and which provides the romance’s underlying unity, its allegorical mysteries, and its modalities of enunciation.
This paper outlines some of the historiographical tools and perspectives the Annals may have received from Livius Andronicus’ Odyssey and Naevius’ Punic War. The topics of allegory and authority structure the discussion. Section 1 explores the Annals’ construction of the past in relation to that of its Latin epic predecessors, particularly their use of allegory in the representation of history. Section 2 argues that Ennius’ unique blend of auctoritas is an expansion of Naevius’ simultaneous evocation of Hellenic historiographical authority of first-hand experience (theōria, empeiria, autoptēs) and divine inspiration from the Muses. The analysis here brings Cato’s Origins into dialogue with the authorizing techniques that are central to the historiographical personae of Rome’s first epicists. I conclude by suggesting that the genealogies outlined in Sections 1 and 2 explain the generic hybridity of Ennius’ res atque poemata.
This chapter investigates the Latin interpretations of the last book of the Christian Bible, the Apocalypse or Revelation to John, up to the end of the ninth century, with a focus on the ways in which—and the reasons why—these interpretations (unlike later medieval and many modern readings of this book) are largely historical rather than focused on the end of the world.
Bibliographical recoveries have decisively challenged older views about Victorian Ireland’s supposed failure to produce fiction, but the perception that the Irish novel was in many ways anomalous remains a hallmark of scholarship on the period, regardless of whether that anomaly is deplored or celebrated. This chapter reviews the main theories that have used sociological, cultural, ideological and economic factors to analyse the marginality and generic deviancy of Irish fiction, where realism is often overshadowed by allegorical and Gothic strains. It then suggests that the aesthetic standards that are used to assess the idiosyncrasies of Irish Victorian novels remain implicitly indebted to influential but questionable definitions of realism in Anglo-American literary criticism. While acknowledging some of Irish fiction’s differences from the realist canon, this chapter also highlights their mutual imbrication by tracing Irish influences and inspirations in the works of various English and French realists, and the latter’s roles in Irish literary history. Ireland’s paradoxical blend of peripherality and proximity to the centres of nineteenth-century European cultural production is here used to recontextualise terms like realism, allegory and Gothic, and to emphasise their porousness not just in Irish writing, but in the very canon from which Irish Victorian fiction is too often segregated.
This essay surveys key editions and translations of the Homeric corpus in the two centuries after the advent of print and also studies the evolution of Homeric commentaries and scholarly apparatus during the European Renaissance. Examining both Latin and vernacular translations, the essay identifies key trends as well as idiosyncrasies in the era’s attempts to render Homer’s Greek readable to a wide audience and also examines some of the ways in which Homer’s poems were interpreted and repurposed, ranging from discussions of Homeric emotion and the theological implications of the Homeric gods to the circulation of Homeric verses in maxims and sententiae.
A large part of the history of the reception and interpretation of Homer takes the form of allegorical interpretation. In the West, the role of allegory is greatest in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, but various techniques of allegorical interpretation can be traced to the earliest commentary on Homer in the Archaic period.
This article traces the literary genres through which knowledge of Homer was communicated throughout the Byzantine period. Centos were a vehicle through which the taste for Homerizing diction and versification were diffused. Likewise, texts in languages that closely engaged with the grammar and rhetorical structure of Greek (Syriac, Georgian) indicate acquaintance with those verses of Homer that were frequently used in Greek as grammatical and rhetorical examples. Varying degrees of acquaintance with Homeric plots and heroes are evident in several medieval literatures (Latin and various Western European vernaculars, but also Syriac, Arabic, Armenian, Georgian, Slavic). The richest path for such diffusion of Homeric knowledge is found in translations of world chronicles, where Homer’s royal figures regularly appear as part of a universal history of kingship. In addition, allegorical readings of Homeric stories (equating Homeric figures with cosmic elements or qualities of the human soul) were widely diffused in philosophy and the natural sciences.
Borges and Nobel Prize-winner J Coetzee coincide on many points. Both have written literary criticism consistently throughout their careers, and there are similarities in their views on specific writers (e.g. Kafka), philosophers, and works. The two resemble each other in their use of language, their education, family background, and post-colonial agendas. Borges is present at numerous levels in Coetzee’s novels, for example in ’Foe’ (Borges had himself written on ’Robinson Crusoe’), and Borgesian self-masking of the author pervades novels from ’Elizabeth Costello’ (2003) on.
This chapter argues that McCarthy’s first four novels, which are lumped together and called his “Tennessee period,” can be characterized by an engagement with the literary attributes of allusion and allegory, particularly allegories of and allusions to hallmarks of Western culture, such as classical drama, Judeo-Christian theology, pastoral idealism, and the symbolic allegory of Romanticism. This chapter further argues that one can see an evolution in these four novels in how McCarthy invokes allegory and allusion, an evolution that progresses from a modernist stance towards industrialism to a wider questioning of the stability of cultural meaning. In the first two novels, this chapter argues, McCarthy uses allusion to signal a simpler time lost in twentieth-century American modernity. In the second two novels, McCarthy uses the literary tropes of allegory and allusion to question meaning and authority more generally, as allusions and even rituals become simulations of meaning and artifacts become empty markers of a past significance that are stripped from their cultural foundation.
Medieval writing in German is characterized by a tension between religious and secular elements from the very beginnings of writing in the vernacular. The chapter therefore challenges conventional views of medieval German literature and its relationship with religion and argues for a complex, often self-aware negotiation of differences between secular and religious points of view. Gender plays a significant role in these negotiations from the beginning, because religious women writing in Latin as well as the vernacular explore new modes of articulating a relationship with God in literary texts. In setting out the complex and manifold ways in which medieval poets across the centuries explore the position of the human against transcendental forces, the chapter thus questions the common master-narrative which sees the Reformation as a radical break with earlier practices, arguing instead for a literary culture in which formation and re-formation of the self are negotiated in multiple ways.
Christoph Unger focuses on allegory, a kind of non-literal language use that has been little studied in pragmatics. He first outlines the pragmatic mechanisms employed in the processing of metaphor and irony, and then compares them with those that seem to be required for the understanding of allegories. Building on some early ideas of Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson, he argues that allegories are like fictions more generally in that they require the capacity to process multi-layered intentions. As such, processing allegory differs radically from metaphor comprehension (which involves ad hoc concept construction) but uses some of the same abilities as irony comprehension, specifically the ability to process utterances on two levels in parallel and the capacity to process interpretive resemblances between representations.
Ingrid Lossius Falkum uses data from young children’s communicative development to argue that metaphor and metonymy rely on different pragmatic mechanisms. Metaphor and metonymy do have certain characteristics in common: they both target individual words or phrases, they both contribute content to the proposition explicitly expressed, and they both lie on a continuum of literal and figurative uses. However, developmental data suggests that early metonymic uses may be the result of a more basic process than metaphorical uses, one in which the child exploits salient associative relations to compensate for gaps in vocabulary.