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Surrealism’s apparent hostility towards the novel was directed more towards the nineteenth-century realist tradition, whereas the movement was strongly attracted to the Gothic novel through its affinity with Romanticism and the celebration of the imagination. It looked back, too, to the pre-rational era of medievalism, celebrating motifs such as the castle, magic, and the supernatural, often framed within the literary device of the narrative journey of discovery, frequented by unnatural events and as exemplified in the writings of Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis. This chapter finds its focus in the writings of three women: Ithell Colquhoun’s Goose of Hermogenes (1961), an alchemical-erotic journey of self-discovery; Valentine Penrose’s Erzsébet Báthory: La comtesse sanglante (1962), a poetic reinterpretation of a woman whose bloody career ended with her immurement in her own castle; and the poet Joyce Mansour’s Les gisants satisfaits (1958), a savagely erotic reworking of the trope of the persecuted woman. All three focus on the expression of the experience of the female body, with a particular emphasis upon the sensory in the work of Penrose and Mansour, while Colquhoun’s concern lies ultimately in spiritual development. All three refigure the model of the Gothic in post-war surrealist writing.
The most provocative legacy of surrealism in Latin America in the period following World War II can arguably be found in the work of women artists and writers. The postwar feminine surrealisms examined in this chapter responded to the encroachment of capitalism in daily life and the gradual, if incomplete, loosening of normative categories of sex and gender. Taking up historical surrealism’s focus on eros as an incomplete promise, they expanded into alternative configurations of sex, desire, and family life, while simultaneously emphasizing persistent, if updated, forms of gendered violence. This chapter analyzes experimental writers and visual artists from Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s – Grete Stern, Maria Martins, Marosa Di Giorgio, and Alejandra Pizarnik. It concludes by noting the legacies of their erotic surrealisms for contemporary art and literature.
Chapter 2 explores the circulation of masculinity through the lens of friendship and sensory rhetoric. Coordinating the language of Christian fellowship and classical friendship, the Cappadocians involved correspondents in an aesthetic based on a union of souls. Using imagery of the body to express affinity of soul, the Cappadocians engaged correspondents in an agōn predicated on mutual faith and/or shared manhood. These letters of affection mimicked the language of contest with the Cappadocians choreographing encounters based on reciprocal seeing, speaking/hearing, and touching. In portraying union of souls through corporeal imagination, the Cappadocians reordered the bodily senses as masculine. These friendships were reinforced through the care taken in the penmanship of the letters and careful selection of messengers, elements that reflected the performative nature of correspondence. And through framing correspondence as a form of gift-giving, the Cappadocians further underscored friendship and Christian fellowship as elements of masculinity rooted in the traditions of classical Greece.
The Introduction takes as its starting point the desire expressed in James Wright's Historia Histrionica (1699) to 'guess at the action' of early modern players, arguing that the 'action' of boy performers is partially recoverable from the texts that have come down to us provided that we are willing to read with physical skill in mind. It surveys the past century's critical fascination with boy actors, suggesting that a great deal of pre-existing work has neglected the embodied stagecraft required of these young performers. It additionally makes a case for the value of practice-based research in the study of early modern drama's corporeal dynamics, and maps out the book's integration of this method into its analysis of a wide range of plays from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Introduction ends with an outline of the book's structure, which explains how the chapters cumulatively build a more physically and theatrically sensitive picture of the work of boy actors in this period.
It is striking how many of Shakespeare’s erotic plays have war either as their setting or are born out of a recent state of violent conflict. Troilus and Cressida and Antony and Cleopatra fall most clearly into the former camp, but think also of comedies like Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where eros emerges from a newly forged peace only to constitute a new battleground of its own. This chapter probes the conjunction of war and eros that appears in almost half of Shakespeare’s plays, first through a broad survey of his corpus and then through studies of The Two Noble Kinsmen, Troilus and Cressida, and Romeo and Juliet. It argues that, far from merely contingent, theatrical conjunctions, Shakespeare provides us a deep conceptual study of the connection between eros and violence, both the potential violence of sexuality and the unsettling underlying sexuality of war.
This book examines the salient ideas and practices that have shaped Surrealism as a protean intellectual and cultural concept that fundamentally shifted our understanding of the nexus between art, culture, and politics. By bringing a diverse set of artistic forms and practices such as literature, manifestos, collage, photography, film, fashion, display, and collecting into conversation with newly emerging intellectual traditions (ethnography, modern science, anthropology, and psychoanalysis), the essays in this volume reveal Surrealism's enduring influence on contemporary thought and culture alongside its anti-colonial political position and international reach. Surrealism's fascination with novel forms of cultural production and experimental methods contributed to its conceptual malleability and temporal durability, making it one of the most significant avant-garde movements of the twentieth century. The book traces how Surrealism's urgent political and aesthetic provocations have bequeathed an important legacy for recent scholarly interest in thing theory, critical vitalism, new materialism, ontology, and animal/human studies.
Though the history of sexuality has diversified and enlarged our understanding of Victorian culture and practices, literary criticism, influenced by the courtship plots of canonical novels, has lagged behind. Even as we denounced a generation of historians and scholars for thinking Victorians were repressed, we canonized a literature based on heteronormative courtship narratives and traditional gender roles. We then critiqued that literature for adhering to – or championed it for subverting – those traditional narratives. In fact, Victorian fiction was always wilder and woollier than we gave it credit for being. Drawing on multiple novels, including examples by Wilkie Collins, William Ainsworth, and George Meredith, as well as the history of sexuality, including texts by Elizabeth Blackwell and Havelock Ellis, this essay surveys instances in which non-reproductive sexuality – pre- and extramarital flirtations, same-sex eroticism, desirous ephebes, and other kinds of non-genital or unconsummated sexual activities – are presented as typical behaviors within the novel. Just as conventional marital plots provide form for instances of what scholars have understood as managed desire, these texts suggest other formal possibilities and properties – rather than arcs of crisis and resolution, they may offer more episodic structures of sustained, oscillating, or unresolved tensions.
This chapter considers the contemporary novel in French within the context of the broadly defined field of women’s writing, a diverse, engaged and vibrant space where innovative literary forms are mobilised in ways that continue to stretch the possibilities and meanings of female experience. Exploring an array of texts by award-winning, bestselling and emerging novelists, the chapter discusses three key thematic areas. In the first part, it considers the intimacy long associated with women’s writing, showing how recent novels have tended to move beyond the tropes of sentimental romance, imagining instead a distinct, female-focused erotics, or otherwise engaging themes of love with wider, philosophical and political concerns. In the second part, the chapter looks at representations of the family, focusing on the turbulent, transformative times of adolescence, on perspectives on mothering, and on new patterns of kinship, that create new dialogues surrounding the cultural ideals and social pressures embroiled within the family in twenty-first-century France. In the final section, the chapter draws attention to the intersectional conversations in recent women’s writing in French between feminist concerns, the representation of queer and trans subjectivities, social inequalities, immigration and race relations.
Chapter 4 examines motherhood as a metaphor for intimate bonds forged across considerable differences in age and social and economic status. It takes up from the mother-daughter terminology deployed among female football players who consider each other “team mothers” and “team daughters” and praise themselves for having a market woman as their “sugar mama.” This requires a closer look at the world of female football, at the figure of the market woman, and at the materiality of love. The chapter touches on the reciprocities as well as the dynamics of exploitation and inequality within relationships that include a “sugar mum” and a “small girl” or an older “giver” and a younger “receiver.” Through practices such us giving each other to potential lovers, friendships are probed and tested. While these circular practices limit the togetherness of twosomes, they also contain and bind them into informal same-sex bonding collectivities in which love emerges as mode of sociality.
A major twenty-first-century fiction, Haruki Murakami’s novel 1Q84 confirms the continuing force of global magical realism. Our analysis centers on a crucial question for magical realist texts: What does their magic achieve? This epic love story chronicles the separation and ultimate reunion of Tengo and Aomame in twentieth-century Tokyo. In its course, the novel’s 'proximate magic' uses magical events and phenomena to draw isolated people together within the city: Tengo writes a story containing two moons and then he and Aomame see two moons in the sky; Tengo sleeps with Fuka Eri and Aomame becomes pregnant, disturbing habitual ideas of space and identity as many magical realist fictions do. This interpersonal magic, together with magical intersections of separate worlds (including – on a metafictional level – the conflation of separate texts) addresses the problem of the separation between inhabitants of a megalopolis, remedying the alienation they experience. Such cultural work needs magic to overcome these strongly divisive social forces.
British Decadence was, in large part, inspired by the poetry and prose of France. The cross-Channel traffic in advanced literature saw extremes of Francophobia and Francophilia in the British press, with writers such as Émile Zola having translations of their work censored and attacked in the House of Commons while receiving rapturous receptions when lecturing in London. A central figure in this traffic of Decadent literature was the poet Paul Verlaine, whose dissolute life scandalized the British public. As this chapter demonstrates, British writers took from their French counterparts both formal innovation and an antagonistic approach to moral orthodoxies. Verlaine’s queer sexuality and relentlessly self-scrutinizing approach to poetry came to symbolize for a generation of young English writers an intoxicating possibility of a poetic revolution against cultural hegemony. Verlaine’s lecture tour of England in late 1893 represents the highpoint of the British obsession with French décadence before the Wilde trials saw progressive literature retreat into the margins.
This chapter asks how the early modern association of eroticism with sweetness, and romantic betrayal with bitterness, correlates to the affiliation between taste and knowledge described in preceding chapters. I suggest that authors including Richard Barnfield, Shakespeare, and Thomas Carew forge links between sensual pleasure and non-ratiocinative epistemologies, using the bitter/sweet opposition to endorse a rhetorical conception of knowledge as innately relational. Erotic experience is reconceptualised as a source of epistemological mastery, and the language of taste emerges as instrumental within what Faramerz Dabhoiwala terms the seventeenth-century ‘sexual revolution’.
This chapter focuses on dramatizations of what John Marshall identifies as the central issue of the early Enlightenment, religious toleration, also a crucial pillar of Whig ideology. Addison and Steele were both advocates of toleration, and their fellow dramatists were no less enthusiastic. I analyse John Hughes’s The Siege of Damascus (1718), a play that remained widely popular through the century, famous for its tense scene of religious testing. The play was based on the work of pioneering Arabist Simon Ockley and offers an object lesson in the way a respectful account of Arab history was put into wide circulation. Other plays that used Near Eastern settings, such as Aaron Hill’s Zara (1735) and James Thomson’s Edward and Eleonora (1739) shared Hughes’s tolerationist agenda. By contrast, I also present plays with a much more conservative perspective on religious difference, including John Brown’s Barbarossa (1754).
Notions of decadence, decline, and decay are intrinsically linked to the history of art. The discipline’s three recognized forefathers ? Giorgio Vasari, Johann Joachim Winckelmann, and Heinrich Wölfflin ? all relied on the concept of decadence (and its antonym, progress) to make sense of the history of the visual arts and to evaluate the art of their times. A developmental model of art was central to the interpretative schemes of these art historians. In this organicist model, earlier developments prepare the stage for what comes later; and after a particular style flourishes for a time, its decline is inevitable as newer styles overtake it. Decadent artists such as Gustave Moreau and Aubrey Beardsley mock aesthetic standards and moral rules, precluding universal appreciation, and proudly so. Decadent artists and decadent audiences are estranged from their society and feel disdain for those who are scandalized by decadent art’s innovative form and immoral subject matter.
Decadents were the heirs of the Enlightenment libertines who took the liberty of exploring ethics in a world in which morality was no longer handed down by God. In such a secular environment, sexual freedom was an offshoot of political and moral philosophy; free love and free thinking went together. The Marquis de Sade embodied the libertine for the eighteenth century, but the fin de siècle expanded the repertoire to admit not just sadism, but also masochism, bestiality, homosexuality and lesbianism, heterosexuality (the word was first coined to name a perversion), voyeurism, fetishism, and all manner of paraphilias (frottage, paedophilia, priapism, transvestism, and vampirism, to name but a few). These topics were mostly explored through imaginative writing (novels, plays, poetry) rather than in lived experience ? what philosophers might call ‘thought experiments’ ? but such bold discussion of taboo subjects came to characterize decadent literature in works by Swinburne, Huysmans, Rachilde, Wilde, and others.
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