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In the years after the Great War, many national literatures registered anxiety about the course of Western civilization. American modernism sometimes presented itself as exceptional on this subject – as untouched by European prospects of decline, or as vitally wedded to regeneration through violence. This chapter considers poetic responses to T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (1922). As a poem written by an American living in Europe, The Waste Land both raises the apocalyptic subject for American writers and allows opportunities for national self-definition by contrast. To Hart Crane and William Carlos Williams, Eliot’s pessimism seemed to abandon the distinctive potential of American literature; in The Bridge (1930) and Spring and All (1923), these poets treat apocalypse in American history as an opportunity to encounter the new. Troubling the distinction implied here between conservative and radical apocalypticism, the chapter also illustrates how Eliot’s tragic apocalypse has been relevant to hemispheric writers of color, seeking to represent the cataclysmic settling of a continent. In his Rights of Passage (1967), Barbadian poet Kamau Brathwaite reworks from The Waste Land a sense of apocalyptic time wherein the past – including The Waste Land itself – is perpetually disfigured but remains ruinously present.
Magical realism is a world literary genre that stages and enables radical crossing of illicit boundaries. Intradiegetically, the mode explores questions of faith on the same ontological level as rationality. In the Arabic and Hebrew-Mizrahi contexts, magical realism serves to puncture the purportedly rational language of the state with the fantastic as a vehicle of minoritarian empowerment. These texts narrate subaltern histories without constantly reproducing the hegemonic language of Othering and subjugation. They disrupt dominant national, ethnic, religious, racial and gender historiographies and ontologies in their respective contexts, but this disruption is all the more powerful when Arabic and Hebrew texts are placed in relation extradiegetically. The networks of relationality created by this dual reading allow us to see ‘Arabness’ with the proverbial third eye – from the positions of minority and majority simultaneously, thereby allowing for a complex, textured and multifaceted understanding of its identitarian and performative meanings.
Based on a systematic sampling of nearly 2000 French and English novels from 1601 to 1830, this book's foremost aim is to ask precisely how the novel evolved. Instead of simply 'rising', as scholars have been saying for some sixty years, the novel is in fact a system in constant flux, made up of artifacts – formally distinct novel types – that themselves rise, only to inevitably fall. Nicholas D. Paige argues that these artifacts are technologies, each with traceable origins, each needing time for adoption (at the expense of already developed technologies) and also for abandonment. Like technological waves in more physical domains, the rises and falls of novelistic technologies don't happen automatically: writers invent and adopt literary artifacts for many diverse reasons. However, looking not at individual works but at the novel as a patterned system provides a startlingly persuasive new way of understanding the history and evolution of artforms.
This chapter considers the importance of life writing to the development of Decadent literary production and to the afterlives of the Decadent movement. Beginning with Walter Pater, we explore the creative approach Decadent writers took to biography and the imagined fictional life. If Wilde, Pater, and John Addington Symonds established the pattern of Decadent life writing, Charles Ricketts and Laurence Housman deployed its practices and politics as they recalled Wilde’s tragic downfall and early death. In the early years of the twentieth century the history of British literary Decadence was still very much contested, and alongside life writing emerged the memoir and the period study that framed the 1890s in relation to the literary innovations of modernism. The creative approach to Decadent life writing waned in the second half of the twentieth century as professional literary critics sought to develop authoritative versions of Decadent biography, a practice seemingly at odds with earlier Decadent practices.
The Introduction explains what we are doing when we claim to write American puritan literary history. It shows the development of that field – particularly as it was rooted in American exceptionalism and guided the construction of American literature anthologies – then explains the turn away from exceptionalism and the current state of the field. In the process we define each of the key terms in the title of this book: “American,” “puritan,” “literary,” and “history,” offering a general overview and summary of puritanism. Finally, the introduction lays out the three broader goals of the volume: (1) to introduce teachers, scholars, and new students to the complicated and nuanced tradition of puritan literature in America, set within broad historical, methodological, and geographical contexts; (2) to bring together new methodologies for, approaches to, and analyses of this literature; and (3) to suggest new directions and next steps in the field, including what the contours of such a field ought to include.
For generations, scholars have imagined American puritans as religious enthusiasts, fleeing persecution, finding refuge in Massachusetts, and founding 'America'. The puritans have been read as a product of New England and the origin of American exceptionalism. This History challenges the usual understanding of American puritans, offering new ways of reading their history and their literary culture. Together, an international team of authors make clear that puritan America cannot be thought of apart from Native America, and that its literature is also grounded in Britain, Europe, North America, the Caribbean, and networks that spanned the globe. Each chapter focuses on a single place, method, idea, or context to read familiar texts anew and to introduce forgotten or neglected voices and writings. A History of American Puritan Literature is a collaborative effort to create not a singular literary history, but a series of interlocked new histories of American puritan literature.
This chapter focuses on performance at the crossroads of Native and non-Native cultures in early America. It considers in particular the literary depictions of those performative cultures and the literary productions that arose from them. Sacred, militaristic, political, juridical, theatrical, and communicative performances appear throughout colonial and Indigenous archives. Their presence deeply informs Native American literary history and increasingly drives the evolution of North American literary history. The chapter considers the literary record of strategic performances of Indianness whereby Native Americans claim authority over their identity within colonialism. It then considers how this knowledge should necessarily impact the content of literary anthologies and the literary surveys they serve. Attending to the performative cultures of early America makes visible the formative and persistent influence of Indigenous culture on non-Native expression. But it should not encourage a disregard for cultural distinctions or, more specifically, for the sacred.
After 1780, the Gothic became an established dramatic kind in its own right. The decade of the 1790s has received a preponderance of attention; in contrast, this chapter begins with formative productions including John Home’s Douglas (1756), Robert Jephson’s The Count of Narbonne (1781), adapted from Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otronto (1764), and the plays of the 1780s. Gothic drama changed decade by decade more than has been recognised, and this essay demonstrates the playwrights’ increasing development of innovative, sophisticated uses of music, lighting, sets, sound and spectacular effects, both adapted and created. Drawing upon dramatic forms as diverse as she-tragedy and farce, early Gothic plays could be operas, melodramas or pantomimes. The 1780s set the mixed genre pattern that became distinctively Gothic and led to plays such as George Colman’s Blue-Beard (1798), with its sixty-four-night initial run. In conclusion, the chapter argues that Gothic drama is an important, even formative, part of the rise of modern popular culture with its ability to be sharply political, highly entertaining and an addictive fad.
In this chapter, female homosocial relationships are explored as confident articulations of female identity and as suggestive models of political governance. Despite widespread anxiety about female-only assembly and scepticism regarding the virtues of female friendship, women writers in this period evidently found friendship between women to be a theme in which they could articulate and explore a range of feelings and emotions not otherwise sanctioned by their culture. The chapter considers a range of poetry and fiction – by Charlotte McCarthy, Margaret Goddard, Olivia Elder, Frances Sheridan and her daughter Elizabeth – in relation to differentially situated ideas of ‘sisterhood’ before turning to the ways in which Ireland came to be figured as a ‘sister’ kingdom to Britain in the later century, thus shaping the proto-feminism of earlier traditions in new, national formations.
Comparing cultural developments in Ireland with European romanticism is problematic on a number of scores. The European periodisation of romanticism is broader than the English-derived start- and end-dates applied to Ireland; European surveys, in aggregating many exemplars from many different countries, create an unjustified impression of quantitative preponderance, against which background any small individual country would appear comparatively scant; and a proper European comparison should juxtapose Ireland with similar countries (imperial peripheries like Bohemia, Croatia, or Finland), rather than with imperial-metropolitan heartlands such as neighbouring France or England. This chapter attempts to correct these imbalances. Most importantly, it is argued that romanticism manifested itself, not only in the field of poetic production (to which its meaning is reduced nowadays), but also in the fields of cultural reflection and knowledge production; and it is in these fields that Irish developments are most closely analogous to European ones.
This introduction discusses the conceptual and theoretical framework of The Cambridge History of Black and Asian British Writing, explaining the rationale behind its both linear and lateral structure as well as the selection of its contents. Flagging the difficulties of attempting to contain and articulate such an extensive, variegated, and still emerging field within ‘one’ history, it points to the complex historical and cultural pathways that have conditioned how the different strands of black and Asian writing have evolved. Written to provide readers with a cultural compass to map the often unstable political and historical contexts by which these literatures have variously been framed and named, it points to significant markers and milestones, contiguities and contingencies, which characterise the four centuries of black and Asian writing that this volume covers. One of the challenges of creating such a retrospective history has been to look both backwards and forwards, creating new literary vistas from what have often been limited critical frameworks and reductive political contextualisations.
This study identifies and interprets dominant developments in the Taiwanese literary field by examining data included in publication catalogs of literary journals and supplements from 1940 to 1953. Utilizing social network analysis, it focuses on both ruptures caused by crucial political events and continuities that spanned these ruptures. The study revisits central tenets of Taiwanese literary history and, by seeking to articulate structuring principles, also unveils new perspectives on how to map and interpret the dynamics of literary systems and the ways in which they mesh with society. It thereby exemplifies how digital humanities can guide researchers toward new historical insights.
Romanticism and realism are not diametrically opposed, and the history of the terms “romance” and “novel” reveal dialogical genre processes. Optative romanticism in Europe and America is in tension with negative romanticism. The principal American romance tradition is largely one of a dark romanticism, in which the gothic and grotesque merge with realism in the “romance-novel,” as in the fictions of Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and later modernist and postmodernist writers. Four basic modes of Gothic can be identified ontologically as: indeterminate “historical” Gothic; determinate “rationalized” Gothic; determinate “supernatural” Gothic; indeterminate “equivocal” Gothic. The ambiguous fourth mode may involve questions of metaphysics, epistemological uncertainty, psychological instability, and textual indeterminacy. The fourth mode characterizes the fictions of Cormac McCarthy and Herman Melville – strikingly exemplified by the pervasive theme of “inscrutability” in Moby-Dick, McCarthy’s favorite book.
Lanka, Ceylon, Sarandib: merely three disparate names for a single island? Perhaps. Yet the three diverge in the historical echoes, literary cultures, maps and memories they evoke. Names that have intersected and overlapped - in a treatise, a poem, a document - only to go their own ways. But despite different trajectories, all three are tied to narratives of banishment and exile. Ronit Ricci suggests that the island served as a concrete exilic site as well as a metaphor for imagining exile across religions, languages, space and time: Sarandib, where Adam was banished from Paradise; Lanka, where Sita languished in captivity; and Ceylon, faraway island of exile for Indonesian royalty under colonialism. Utilising Malay manuscripts and documents from Sri Lanka, Javanese chronicles, and Dutch and British sources, Ricci explores histories and imaginings of displacement related to the island through a study of the Sri Lankan Malays and their connections to an exilic past.
‘Transposing the Restoration’ explores connections between, and assesses the cumulative impact of, the three main chapters of The Restoration Transposed. It considers the book’s implications for issues and topics such as translation, the transition from a manuscript- to a print-based literary culture, the spread of English-language literary publishing outside London, the participation and presentation of women in the literary sphere, and the development of the English literary canon. It also describes and seeks to account for the differing characters of each of the literary decades from the 1660s to the 1690s. It concludes by considering how the fresh perspectives offered by The Restoration Transposed may alter perceptions of poets as various as Milton, Marvell, Dryden, Cowley and Rochester and makes the case for the transposed Restoration as offering a view of its poetry that is less narrow and elitist and more sympathetic and open to diversity than conventional accounts of the period.
‘The Spenser Problem’ considers how writers and critics of the Restoration read, responded to and evaluated the works of Edmund Spenser, especially The Faerie Queene. Spenser, who had died in 1599, was regarded by many in this period as among the most important poets in English literary history, the only Englishman worthy of comparison with canonical European poets such as Homer and Virgil. Yet he was also frequently disparaged by Restoration critics on grounds of his archaic language and his unfashionable style (both his use of allegory and his supposedly unwieldy stanzaic form). ‘The Spenser Problem’ surveys critical responses to Spenser by both well- and little-known writers, the former including such poets as Cowley, Milton, Oldham, Behn and Dryden. It also focuses on Jonathan Edwin’s 1679 edition of Spenser’s Works – the first new collected Spenser since the 1610s – arguing for its importance both within the history of Spenser reception and within larger narratives of English literary history. Crucial in establishing Spenser’s canon and reworking his reputation in the light of Restoration norms and preoccupations, Works (1679) also pioneered the republication of English poetry of ‘the last age’ in a manner later taken up by booksellers such as Jacob Tonson.
The introduction explores the challenges that periodicity poses to literary history. We argue that a self-conscious awareness of how periods are inevitably implicated in expanded networks of temporality and geography nevertheless allows us to explore how particular moments of literary history (in this case the 1880s) might exhibit specific and characteristic formal, thematic or cultural forms. The 1880s is a decade that has been too readily overlooked in the rush to embrace end-of-century decadence and aestheticism. The contributors to this book explore the case for the 1880s as both a discrete point of literary production, with its own pressures and provocations, and as part of a series of broader networks of affilation and contestation. The essays address a wide variety of authors, topics and genres, offering incisive readings of the diverse forces at work in the shaping of the literary 1880s.
In 2008, the First Sounds project digitally scanned and converted the paper tracings of Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville’s phonautograph, recreating sounds that hadn’t been heard since the middle of the nineteenth century. Never intended to be played back, Scott’s phonautograms belong to a world in which writing was the universal standard for other media and literature was often the test case for new media technologies. But even by the time of Thomas Edison’s tinfoil phonograph in the late 1870s, that orientation was changing. This book analyzes the relationships of print literature to other media in the late nineteenth century, a time when an astonishing array of new media technologies were imagined, invented, and adopted. It argues that writers became vernacular media theorists as they traced systematic relationships between different forms of print and nonprint media, and it brings the history of books and printed writing into closer contact with the interdisciplinary field of media archaeology.
What does it mean to focus on the decade as a unit of literary history? Emerging from the shadows of iconic Victorian authors such as Eliot and Tennyson, the 1880s is a decade that has been too readily overlooked in the rush to embrace end-of-century decadence and aestheticism. The 1880s witnessed new developments in transatlantic networks, experiments in lyric poetry, the decline of the three-volume novel, and the revaluation of authors, journalists and the reading public. The contributors to this collection explore the case for the 1880s as both a discrete point of literary production, with its own pressures and provocations, and as part of literature's sense of its expanded temporal and geographical reach. The essays address a wide variety of authors, topics and genres, offering incisive readings of the diverse forces at work in the shaping of the literary 1880s.
Returning a year after the publication of Amulet to the site of the historical trauma of his generation, Bolaño’s 2000 novella By Night in Chile resumes the challenge of a coming-to-terms with the 1973 coup which he had made his sustained focus, four years earlier, in Distant Star. Combining Distant Star’s focus on poiesis with that of Amulet on aesthesis, By Night in Chile completes Bolaño’s trilogy of short novels of poetic apprenticeship by exploring the conjunction of poiesis and aesthesis in a single character who figures both, the Catholic father/priest and poet-critic Sebastián Urrutia Lacroix/H. Ibacache. Mirroring the central protagonist’s dual identities as poet (Urrutia Lacroix) and critic (Ibacache), the text inscribes, through its uninterrupted monological structure, a maximal tension between acts of writing and reading. Pivoting in the novella’s final pages to an explicit focus on politics, pedagogy, and the making of literature, Bolaño suggest the extent to which relations between readers and writers, history and literary history, ideology and critique remain to be determined through the dynamic interplay of aesthesis and poiesis, an increasingly accelerated process that carries within it the potential, though far from a guarantee, of more democratic, non-binary configurations to come.