To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
The tradition of unclassical scriptural paraphrase, such as that found in Du Bartas’ Sepmaines and Lucy Hutchinson’s Order and Disorder, has attracted some thoughtful critical attention in recent years. But Du Bartas’ work was modelled – albeit with elements of contention – on didactic epic of the type exemplified by Palingenius’ Zodiacus Vitae, an ubiquitous schooltext which was the very opposite of 'sub-canonical' in the seventeenth century. For the modern reader, approaching Milton's Paradise Lost via Virgil and Homer, the digressive mode of Du Bartas and the unclassical elements of Paradise Lost seem anomalous. Early modern poets and readers, however, were taught to approach the classics via approved Protestant or quasi-Protestant works composed by near contemporaries. Of these, the Zodiacus Vitae, though now largely forgotten and when remembered, almost universally misrepresented, was in England among one of the most influential. This chapter takes the achievement and allure of Palingenius’ poem seriously as a model in examining some of the very large number of examples of ‘unclassical epic’ read and composed by English authors in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Chapter 1 compares two contemporary Argentine novels that deal with Nazism in allegorical ways. Patricio Pron’s El comienzo de la primavera establishes a dialogue between the German and Argentine post-dictatorship contexts. In doing so, Pron highlights the inevitable insufficiency of justice in relation to dictatorship crimes, or that which Brett Levinson calls ‘radical injustice’. The novel’s melancholic register and parallels between two distinct historical moments lend themselves to an examination with reference to Walter Benjamin’s theory of allegory. In Wakolda, Lucía Puenzo examines the activities of Josef Mengele in Argentina but, contrary to Pron, rejects parallels with events related to the dictatorship or post-dictatorship. Instead, she foregrounds the foundational reliance of the Argentine nation on forms of ‘immunization’ (Esposito) and ‘necropolitics’ (Mbembe): the exploitative labour of a racialized mass that are rhetorically and materially excluded from the benefits of being ‘Argentine’ in both the past and the present.
In this volume, Karin Krause examines conceptions of divine inspiration and authenticity in the religious literature and visual arts of Byzantium. During antiquity and the medieval era, “inspiration” encompassed a range of ideas regarding the divine contribution to the creation of holy texts, icons, and other material objects by human beings. Krause traces the origins of the notion of divine inspiration in the Jewish and polytheistic cultures of the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds and their reception in Byzantine religious culture. Exploring how conceptions of authenticity are employed in Eastern Orthodox Christianity to claim religious authority, she analyzes texts in a range of genres, as well as images in different media, including manuscript illumination, icons, and mosaics. Her interdisciplinary study demonstrates the pivotal role that claims to the divine inspiration of religious literature and art played in the construction of Byzantine cultural identity.
The third chapter shows that Vladimir Nabokov, seeking to replace the superannuated form of national allegory, constructs a figure of supranational metonymy through chess. Critics have explained that the Bildungsroman is a novel of socialization that displays how an individual finds his place in a social world and projects a trajectory of collective progress. Like Beckett, though, Nabokov was a post-revolutionary expatriate who made his career in another language. One of Nabokov’s targets was the notion that novels offer national allegories. Reading Nabokov’s early novels, which feature Russian exiles who rove across the continent as if across a chessboard, I reveal the writer’s interest in crafting a “personal world” that travels well across borders. The figure of metonymy presents advantages over metaphor. First, elastic in scale, metonymy represents spaces smaller or larger than the nation. Second, where national allegories had to install generic template protagonists at their narrative centers, supranational metonymies stress individual idiosyncrasy, accommodating abnormalities; they reject the premise that there can be such a thing as a generic national character.
The next chapter on Macbeth looks at how the play uses a Baroque, expressionist aesthetic to help define the empty world of power it depicts, and the ambiguities of the Baroque aesthetic form as defined by Walter Benjamin provide the setting for the faint glimmers of utopian thinking in the play. In this, the complicated figures called the Weird Sisters in the play’s text – but Witches in the paratextual stage directions and speech prefixes of the non-authorial Folio text – play a central role and get detailed examination. They are fundamentally ambiguous dramatic figures, showing conflicting traits as both the Three Fates of classical mythology and witches of medieval and early modern legend and belief-systems. Accordingly, they can be seen as either detached prophets merely predicting events, or co-agents of Macbeth’s crimes and failures. There are even utopian elements in their complex construction, especially if the songs Thomas Middleton inserted in the Folio text are taken into account. But the play remains a dark tragedy of the emptiness and cruelty of the politics of force, its hints at utopian alternatives muted and subordinated to the predominant bleak and troubling qualities of a world dominated by force and power.
While Ralph Ellison was waiting for Invisible Man to be published, he confessed to Albert Murray, that he was haunted by “embarrassing” dreams of “Tuskegee [. . . ] all the scenes of test and judgment.” Although the novel is not an autobiography but “near allegory” as Ellison once called it, critics, while acknowledging the importance of his years at Tuskegee, have tended to flatten the complexity of one of the hero’s greatest “tests” – the Southern black college. Drawing upon biographers Lawrence Jackson and Arnold Rampersad, the Tuskegee University Archives, and Ellison’s own words, his fiction as well his correspondence and interviews, this chapter will explore how large Tuskegee looms in Ellison’s life and work: the Institute meant far more to Ellison’s development as an artist than simply to serve as one more windmill at which the quixotic hero of Invisible Man must tilt.
In this chapter I argue that Adès’s Totentanz, for mezzo-soprano, baritone and orchestra, functions as a musical commentary on the allegory of the Dance of Death. Translating into music Bernt Notke’s famous fifteenth-century frieze, which depicted wraith-like skeletons taking part in a Dance of Death with members of society in strictly descending order of societal importance, Adès’s Totentanz is an act of narration which reveals a message of social critique centred on the corrupting materialism and hierarchical structure of society. Adès sheds light on his priorities as (musical) storyteller through a number of narrative strategies, including foreshadowing, intertextual references, topical allusions, pacing and proportion and musical characterisation. Chains of thirds and fifths, serving as narrative motives and functioning as symbols for the ideas of damnation, salvation and human suffering, link together the music for many characters, and signifiers of death and the demonic, such as the Dies irae, permeate the music.
Drawing on Walter Benjamin’s theory of modern allegory, I argue that the narrative arc of The Exterminating Angel ushers in a spatiotemporal ‘collapse’ of diegetic time and slippage into ‘allegorical’ time. By distorting sonic elements (i.e. motives, cycles and topics), Adès establishes a musico-dramatic opposition in the course of the opera between false optimism and the eventuality of doom. This opposition translates into a battle between the socialites’ wilful interventions and the force that strips them of their will. In what I refer to as ‘allegorical’ time, the distinction between past, present and future dissolves, and the protagonists as well as the sonic elements are stripped of their identities and, by the end of the opera, disappear into an existential void. While the narrative trajectory follows the arc of dramatic irony, the conclusion of the opera defies resolution through the suspension of telos.
This chapter explores twelfth-century readings of the book of Ruth, seemingly a short pastoral story. The limited scale and scope of the book is particularly revealing of the careful ingenuity and engaged earnestness with which clerics and monks approached scripture, a fact that may be obvious but is often obfuscated by the apparent repetitions from exegete to exegete, the deep unfamiliarity to a modern eye of the intellectual tools and methods they used and the sheer textual mass of medieval exegesis. There is still a lot that historians can learn from reading those texts. In the book of Ruth, the fluid identities of the two female protagonists and their eventful lives, alongside the clear figure of a Boaz-Christ that elevated the theological status of the whole book, were scrutinised, assimilated and reinvented by twelfth-century clerics, monks and masters who had their own identities, life trajectories and zeitgeist to imagine and to shape through their words.
Allegory ‘speaks the other’, that which was previously unspoken, and sometimes that which is unspeakable. Allegory also makes present what was absent; allegories are often absent presences. Allegory offers a fullness of meaning, but often succeeds only in delivering linguistic emptiness. Allegory may be a stepping-stone from the unreal or less real to the more real, in the anagogical exegeses of Neoplatonism. Biblical typology connects two historical events, one Old- and one New-Testament, the latter being understood as the ‘fulfilment’ of the former. Just how empty that leaves the former is disputed: should we talk of supersession, or of transformation? The presence of allegory requires the collusion of the reader. Allegories may become absent when their presence is denied, as for example in a persistent critical denial of the ‘typologies’ of Aeneid 8. The plausible deniability of allegory can also serve political purposes. The absences and presences of personification allegory are explored in Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Prudentius’ Psychomachia. Ovid energises the long history of personifications conscious of their ‘selves’, while Prudentius brings words given bodies up against the Word made flesh. Finally I examine Claudian’s dissolution of the subjects of his panegyrical epics into a cloud of images and myths.
When Mercury in Book 4 of Virgil’s Aeneid appears to Aeneas and tells him to leave Dido he is not simply a representation of Aeneas’ inner thought processes. He stands for a world-historical vision that is communicated via Mercury from Jupiter. The chapter analyses the divine intermediaries in Homer and Apollonius as well as Virgil.
This chapter examines Philo's views of exile and eschatology and his use of Israel terminology. The first part of the chapter argues that despite his tendency towards allegory, numerous places in the Philonic corpus suggest that Philo viewed the exile as ongoing and—like Josephus—looked forward to a future restoration of Israel. The second part of the chapter shows that Philo avoids the term "Israel" when referring to his contemporaries, whom he calls Ioudaioi ("Jews"), while "Israel" appears in other contexts and correlates closely with his eschatological statements. Like Josephus, Philo argues that Israel's restoration will come through divine initiative rather than violent revolution, and the first element of that restoration will be a divinely initiated return to virtue and obedience. Remarkably, Philo also suggests that not all Jews are or will be included in "Israel," a view that reflects sympathy with a prophetic or sectarian view of Israel in which Israelite status is contingent on proper obedience to God.
The arguments put forth by Parmenides’ goddess have some marked implications for language: mortal terms are deceptive and what truly ‘is’ seems hard to capture in ordinary language. This chapter argues that Parmenides uses poetry in a variety of ways to bypass these difficulties. Verse could be a notoriously deceptive form of discourse in causing its recipients to forget their immediate surroundings and enter into an imagined and potentially illusory mimetic world. In the Doxa section of the poem, Parmenides highlights this quality of his verse to illustrate the wider deceptiveness of mortal sensory experience. On the other hand, the transportive qualities of verse render it a means by which to provide a taster of the ineffable and sublime emotional-cum-cognitive experience of contemplating that which truly is. Moreover, through alluding to meta-literary episodes such as Hesiod’s Theogony proem and the Sirens episode of the Odyssey, Parmenides engages in an ongoing discussion concerning the nature and function of song. His contribution can be regarded as an important moment in the emergence of the Classical conception of poetry: in presenting the Doxa as a poetic world deriving from mortal opinion, Parmenides comes close to Platonic conceptions of literary mimesis.
This section substantiates the claim that Xenophanes, Parmenides and Empedocles played an instrumental role in the emergence of what may be termed the Classical conception of literature – that is, the view that a work of literature is a mortally crafted artefact that reflects a true state of affairs only symbolically or mimetically – by drawing attention to evidence for their influence on certain important developments in fifth- and fourth-century BCE poetics. These include (a) fifth-century practices of allegorical interpretation; (b) Gorgias’ statements that poetry is deceptive and is a kind of charm or drug; (c) Democritus’ physical explanations for poetic inspiration and composition; (d) Democritus and the sophists’ analytical approaches to language; and (e) the conceptions of mimesis presented by Plato.
The Introduction sets out the aims and methods of the book. It outlines how the literary-critical approach adopted differs from the predominately philosophical interests of existing scholarship on these texts. A key distinction is the focus on the emotional experiences of audiences rather than narrowly defined argumentative content. The treatment of Archaic verse as literature is defended against the charge of anachronism: some have argued that early Greek verse differs essentially from later literature in that it was valued primarily for its purported truthfulness, but the ‘truth’ of Archaic Greek poetry seems to go far beyond mere factual accuracy, encompassing symbolic and emotional truths that are also hallmarks of later conceptions of the literary. Furthermore, the modern perspectival theory of literary truth espoused by many theorists articulates a concept that is already implicit in the emphasis on the visual quality of verse found in Homer and ancient criticism. It will be argued that Xenophanes, Parmenides and Empedocles use verse in conformity with a poetics of truth in this expanded sense. Finally, this chapter explains how the book will use the surviving fragments of these authors as a source for ideas about the nature and function of poetry.
Early Christians were certainly inclined to look upon Plato as an ally. The first part of this chapter considers how far Eusebius and other apologists succeeded in making out the case that the Bible and Plato proclaim the same God. In the second part it proposes that the Johannine concept of the Logos was at once more foreign to Plato and more palatable to certain of his followers than Augustine supposed it to be. It concludes by examining two indictments of the hermeneutic method of the Fathers – first, that they co-opted the Platonic device of allegoresis to overwrite the plain sense of the scriptures, and secondly that under Platonic influence they surrendered faith to philosophy in their mystical readings of the Song of Songs.
Recent publications on theology and film attempting to explain what a parable is remain less clear about how or why a parable works for cinema, and many definitions do not fully take into account the formal dynamics of film qua film nor parable qua parable. I seek to demonstrate the benefits of a more precise conception of cinematic parables by utilizing philosopher Paul Ricoeur's understanding of “parable” to make theological interpretations of film that take audio-visual aesthetics into consideration. I conclude with three recent examples of cinematic parables in order to demonstrate this Ricoeurian parabolic hermeneutic: Asghar Farhadi's Iranian melodrama, A Separation (2011), American filmmaker Anna Rose Holmer's enigmatic The Fits (2016), and Aki Kaurismäki's droll Finnish comedy, The Other Side of Hope (2017). Ultimately, I make a case for film as theology, what I am calling “theocinematics.”
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.