Transgressing the boundaries of reason:
Burke’s poetic (Miltonic) reading of
‘many of the objects of our inquiry are in themselves obscure and
Edmund Burke, ‘Preface’, A Philosophical Enquiry1
‘as the saying is, Homo solus aut deus, aut dæmon: a man alone
is either a saint or a devil’
Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy2
The sublime experience in the Age of Reason
In his inspiring book, ‘The Stranger Within Thee’: Concepts of the
Self in Late-Eighteenth-Century Literature, Stephen D. Cox, while
elaborating on the
James Baldwin, the Religious Right, and the Moral
In the 1980s, James Baldwin recognized that a major transformation had occurred in the
socio-political functions of religion. His critique adapted accordingly, focusing on the
ways in which religion—particularly white evangelical Christianity—had morphed into a
movement deeply enmeshed with mass media, conservativepolitics, and late capitalism.
Religion in the Reagan era was leveraged, sold, and consumed in ways never before seen,
from charismatic televangelists, to Christian-themed amusement parks, to mega-churches.
The new movement was often characterized as the “religious right” or the “Moral Majority”
and was central to both Reagan’s political coalition as well as the broader culture wars.
For Baldwin, this development had wide-ranging ramifications for society and the
individual. This article draws on Baldwin’s final major essay, “To Crush the Serpent”
(1987), to examine the author’s evolving thoughts on religion, salvation, and
transgression in the context of the Reagan era.
The 1990s witnessed an explosion in women's writing in France, with a particularly exciting new generation of writer's coming to the fore, such as Christine Angot, Marie Darrieussecq and Regine Detambel. This book introduces an analysis of new women's writing in contemporary France, including both new writers of the 1990s and their more established counter-parts. The 1990s was an exciting period for women's writing in France. The novels of Louise Lambrichs are brilliant but troubling psychological dramas focusing on the traumas that inhabit the family romance: incest, sterility, the death those we love and the terrible legacy of mourning. The body of writing produced by Marie Redonnet between 1985 and 2000 is an unusually coherent one. The book explores the possibility of writing 'de la mélancolie' through focusing on the work of Chantal Chawaf, whose writing may be described as 'melancholic autofiction', melancholic autobiographical fiction. It places Confidence pour confidence within Constant's oeuvre as a whole, and argues for a more positive reading of the novel, a reading that throws light on the trajectory of mother-daughter relations in her fiction. Christiane Baroche was acclaimed in France first as a short-story writer. Unable to experience the freedom of their brothers and fathers, beur female protagonists are shown to experience it vicariously through the reading, and the writing of, narratives. Clotilde Escalle's private worlds of sex and violence, whose transgressions are part of real lives, shock precisely because they are brought into the public sphere, expressed in and through writing.
Unnatural women and uncomfortable
readers? Clotilde Escalle’s tales of
Described by critics variously as one of the ‘new barbarians’ of French
writing,1 as one of the cruel ‘Barbarellas’ who seek only to depict the disarray of contemporary French society,2 and as one of the new breed of
women writers who hold a violent and deep-seated grudge against the gaze
of men,3 Clotilde Escalle is remarkable among new writers for the dispassionate way in which she presents violent sexual and familial dramas.
Escalle was born in in Fez
Swinburne’s aestheticism, blasphemy, and the dramatic monologue
As an undergraduate at Oxford,
Swinburne fantasised about reviewing his own poetry and identifying his
‘models’ as ‘i.e. blasphemy and sensuality’
– an arresting formulation that seems to posit transgression
itself as a celebrated literary form or precursor poet (qtd in Hyder 1970 , xiii). When Swinburne’s fantasy of
literary scandal was in a sense spectacularly fulfilled in the
subject’s identity, even if her unattractiveness lurks behind a
At times a means of displaying the disparity between the
body and the self while elsewhere drawing attention to the
inseparability of the outer and inner person, ugly characters play a
fascinating role in textual negotiations with identity in this era.
Diseased, necrotic and perpetually transgressing its own borders, the
of Swinburne’s Hellenism but its relation to the more official and
orthodox Victorian ‘hellenomania’ (Bernal 1987 ). I wish to explore Swinburne’s liminal and
transgressive excursions into marginal Hellenic territories, often
obscured by the exclusively Olympian vision of Greece extolled by most
Victorians in their quest for secure ideological foundations. In the
nineteenth century ancient Greece was a Western utopia to which
won three of the major Australian literary prizes and was shortlisted for the British Booker Prize.
Illywhacker examines twentieth-century Australian history with the savage humour and fantasy of the earlier fiction now placed within an epic framework. The result is a novel with energy, panache and sardonic vision, which mixes family history with satirical fable and fantasy in an abundance of play and arraignment. Like Bliss, Illywhacker transgresses and undermines presumptions of formal continuity and genre coherence: it both entertains
accusers alledge against me, to a
hair’.22 The puns, then, are associated with an episode of (comic) defensiveness and anxiety surrounding the ‘matter’ of the body, which literally and linguistically occupies an ambivalent status between subject and
object. The transgressive anatomising of the body upon which the characters are about to embark is mirrored by a transgressive anatomizing
of language, which may be both literal and metaphorical: ‘touching’,
‘head’, ‘hair’. It seems that puns are particularly suited to the exploration of such unsafe, unstable subjects.
Grotesque selves and self-fashioning in Pope’s Dunciad
-classic study, The Politics and Poetics
of Transgression, while the latter follow in the monumental footsteps
of Reuben Brower and Maynard Mack.3 In both cases ‘deformity
as a self-consciously created figure for Pope’s poetics patterned after
the poet’s own person is lost from sight’.4 This chapter will argue
SELF-EXPLORATION IN THE AGE OF REASON
that Alexander Pope’s self – as depicted in his various Dunciads
– is a conflicted entity riven by the discourses of gender, physical
norms based on classical precedent, the ever-rising middling orders,
and consumer mercantile