Any discussion of gentry culture in late medieval England, and of the specific phenomena that accompany the shaping of gentry cultural identity, necessarily requires an analysis of the literature read, and sometimes produced, by the gentry. The emulation of noble culture in gentry circles has been noted by many critics; 1 in recent years, however, more emphasis
This book offers a comprehensive account of the absurd in prose fiction. As well as providing a basis for courses on absurdist literature (whether in fiction or in drama), it offers a broadly based philosophical background. Sections covering theoretical approaches and an overview of the historical literary antecedents to the ‘modern’ absurd introduce the largely twentieth-century core chapters. In addition to discussing a variety of literary movements (from Surrealism to the Russian OBERIU), the book offers detailed case studies of four prominent exponents of the absurd: Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett, Daniil Kharms and Flann O'Brien. There is also wide discussion of other English-language and European contributors to the phenomenon of the absurd.
1 Orphans and American literature: texts, intertexts, and contexts The word ‘orphan’ suggests being cut off from society, abandoned and alone; its opposite conjures visions of family, connectedness, roots, belonging – all subsumed in the image of home. (Porter, 2003: 101) Orphans in contemporary US novels gain significance in relation to earlier American literature and the history of orphanhood in the USA. This chapter therefore situates our study in both literary and socio-historical contexts, focusing on earlier discussions of the American orphan figure in
What is this – dream in literature ? The phrase might be construed in at least three ways: the role and importance of dreams in literary works (in a short story, such as Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Ligeia’; a poem, such as Percy Bysshe Shelley’s ‘The Question’; a play, such as Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream ; or a novel, such as Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights ); the impulse or compulsion to dream, to fall into reverie, to lose oneself in a dream or dreamlike state while reading a work of literature, the experience of
American literature and Irish culture, 1910–1955: the politics of enchantment discusses how and why American modernist writers turned to Ireland at various stages during their careers. By placing events such as the Celtic Revival and the Easter Rising at the centre of the discussion, it shows how Irishness became a cultural determinant in the work of American modernists. Each chapter deals with a different source of influence, considering the impact of family, the Celtic Revival, rural mythmaking, nationalist politics and the work of W. B. Yeats on American modernists’ writings. It is the first study to extend the analysis of Irish influence on American literature beyond racial, ethnic or national frameworks.
Through close readings, a sustained focus on individual writers, and in-depth archival research, American literature and Irish culture, 1910–1955 provides a balanced and structured approach to the study of the complexities of American modernist writers’ responses to Ireland. Offering new readings of familiar literary figures – including Fitzgerald, Moore, O’Neill, Steinbeck and Stevens – it makes for essential reading for students and academics working on twentieth-century American and Irish literature and culture, and transatlantic studies.
For Restoration and early-eighteenth-century writers, history proper was only one of a wide range of forms that could be used to represent the past. Accordingly, while some sought to record historical phenomena using large-scale formal narrative, others chose to depict the past as satire, secret history, scandal chronicle, biography, journal, letter, and memoir. A poem like John Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel, for example, could claim to be fulfilling neoclassical history's moral purpose of warning readers against vice, but it could present historical phenomena with an undisguised political bias. Equally, Daniel Defoe's Secret History of the White-Staff could address the same public events as a formal historical narrative, but recount them through the eyes of a politically opposed narrator. Writing for a broader audience, memoirists, scandal chroniclers, historians, and satirists were naturally prompted to depict historical phenomena in ways that differed from the neoclassical ideal. The increased attention to topical events and individual characters likely helped to attract new groups of readers to historical literature, but it was not without its critics. The genres of memoirs, satires, and secret histories, often painted portraits using far more than the 'two or three Colours' recommended by artes historicae. By mid 1750, the perceived 'ebb' in English historiography had ended - but also had the sense that history could be authoritatively defined as 'a continued narration of things true, great, and publick'. The full-length narratives of John Oldmixon, and other 'hack' historians had by mid-century been hastily consigned to the library or the dustbin.
Sanctity as literature in late medieval Britain explores how sanctity and questions of literariness are intertwined across a range of medieval genres. “Sanctity” as a theme and concept figures as a prominent indicator of the developments in the period, in which authors began to challenge the predominant medieval dichotomy of either relying on the authority of previous authors when writing, or on experience. These developments are marked also by a rethinking of the intended and perceived effects of writings. Instead of looking for clues in religious practices in order to explain these changes, the literary practices themselves need to be scrutinised in detail, which provide evidence for a reinterpretation of both the writers’ and their topics’ traditional roles and purposes. The essays in the collection are based on a representative choice of texts from the fourteenth to the early sixteenth centuries, covering penitential literature, hagiographical compilations and individual legends as well as romance, debates, and mystical literature from medieval and early modern England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. For researchers and advanced students of medieval literature and culture, the collection offers new insights into one of the central concepts of the late medieval period by considering sanctity first and foremost from the perspective of its literariness and literary potential.
For Sharon Kinoshita A scribe who knows no Sumerian, what kind of scribe is he? – Akkadian Proverb What role does distributed authorship play – or, more accurately, what role should it play – in the emergent field of ‘world literature’? 1 Roy Ascott, Britain's ‘visionary
What is wisdom? The Oxford English Dictionary defines the English word wisdom as ‘Capacity of judging rightly in matters relating to life and conduct; soundness of judgement in the choice of means and ends; sometimes, less strictly, sound sense, esp. in practical affairs’. 1 It dates the earliest appearance of the word to the one-manuscript masterpiece typically identified as the point of origin of English literature, Beowulf . The word has clear ancestors – conceptual if not etymological
4 Chance and the truth of literature Half the words we use have no meaning whatever and of the other half each man understands each word after the fashion of his own folly and conceit. Faith is a myth and beliefs shift like mists on the shore; thoughts vanish; words, once pronounced, die; and the memory of yesterday is as shadowy as the hope of to-morrow. (Joseph Conrad, Letters to Cunninghame Graham) Introduction: the ‘illusion’ of literature Conrad’s conception of the artist’s work as an act of ‘translation’ in which the writer wrestles with words ‘worn thin