stone pillar and almost overwhelms the pagan
cannibals of Mermedonia. Despite their differences, all the poems share
an interest in two themes, which emerge from the biblical story of the
Flood and its theological interpretation: covenant and apocalypse.
Scholars of Old English poetry
generally agree that Genesis A is an early poem, perhaps written
as early as the
Written in the aftermath of the civil rights era’s expansive hopes, James Baldwin’s last
novel, Just Above My Head (1979), examines a fundamental issue, the choice between hope
and skepticism, or prophecy and doubt. Baldwin approaches this issue by questioning two
cornerstone ideas of his fiction, the need for prophetic art and this art’s focus on
anticipating a renovated society, often pictured in terms adapted from apocalyptic
biblical texts and Gospel music lyrics. Just Above My Head is Baldwin’s fullest
presentation of this kind of art and its linkage to apocalyptic hopes. He dramatizes these
ideas in the art of his Gospel singer protagonist, particularly in a climactic scene of
artistic dedication whose Gospel lyric envisions “tearing down the kingdom of this world.”
Yet Baldwin also unsparingly questions these same ideas through plot and the
blues-inflected skeptical-tragic consciousness of his narrator. Responding to a 1970s
moment when hopes for transcendent justice seemed passé, Just Above My Head’s unique
contribution is not to try to resolve the ideas it counterposes, but to face both the
possible falseness of prophetic hope and our continuing need for it, and to present the
necessity for choice in a final dream that holds the key to the novel’s meaning. In
presenting this issue through a sustained double-voiced narrative that reexamines its
author’s artistic practice and raises fundamental choices in outlook and conduct, Just
Above My Head evidences the continuing artistic vitality of Baldwin’s late fiction.
The story of the Flood, inherited by the Anglo-Saxons during their conversion to Christianity, was transformed by them into a vital myth through which they interpreted the whole of history and their place in it. The dual character of the myth, with the opposition between threatened destruction and hope of renewal, presented commentators with a potent historical metaphor, which they exploited in their own changing historical circumstance. This book explores the use of this metaphor in the writings of the Anglo-Saxons. It is the integration of a well-known biblical story into the historical and cultural self-definition of a group of people converted to Christianity and its worldview. The Flood in the Bible is clearly a punishment, though the sin is not so well defined. This forms part of a historical pattern of sin and punishment extending back to Eden, and progressed to the sin and exile of Cain. For Bede the historian, the Flood was a key event in the earlier history of the world; for Bede the theologian, the Flood was an event replete with mystical significance. In Exodus and Andreas all the poems share an interest in two themes, which emerge from the biblical story of the Flood and its theological interpretation: covenant and apocalypse. Noah is the 'one father' not only of Israel, but of the whole human race, and his introduction widens the concept of 'inheritance' in the Exodus. The book concludes with a detailed discussion of the significance of the Flood myth in Beowulf.
’s novels, from Generation X onwards, are
inflected by his characters’ search for meaning and identity, but with
the evolution of his work, this quest has assumed an increasingly
theological shape. Many of the narratives feature explicit or covert
images of conversion, baptism and parable, and the theme of
apocalypse – both in the material sense of cataclysmic ending and as
an echo of biblical traditions of revelation, a divine uncovering
of mystery – is central to Coupland’s reading of the postmodern
landscape. Yet as a writer from an avowedly secular background
This book is a comprehensive critical introduction to one of the most original contemporary British writers, providing an overview of all of Iain Sinclair's major works and an analysis of his vision of modern London. It places Sinclair in a range of contexts, including: the late 1960s counter-culture and the British Poetry Revival; London's underground histories; the rise and fall of Thatcherism; and Sinclair's writing about Britain under New Labour and Sinclair's connection to other writers and artists, such as J.G. Ballard, Michael Moorcock and Marc Atkins. The book contributes to the growing scholarship surrounding Sinclair's work, covering in detail his poetry, fiction, non-fiction (including his book on John Clare, Edge of the Orison), and his film work. Using a generally chronological structure, it traces the on-going themes in Sinclair's writing, such as the uncovering of lost histories of London, the influence of visionary writings, and the importance of walking in the city, and more recent developments in his texts, such as the focus on spaces outside of London and his filmic collaborations with Chris Petit. The book provides a critically informed discussion of Sinclair's work using a variety of approaches.
Contemporary environmental crisis fiction and the post-theory era
these novels, it becomes apparent that their uses of death are far
subtler and more nuanced than it might at first seem.
In considering death’s thematic use in environmental crisis fiction,
one might initially turn one’s attention to apocalypse, the use of which,
in general terms, has become widespread in popular discourses of environment. Such fetishising of doom and disaster in contemporary environmental crisis fiction and other media has, however, been viewed as
unhelpful (Dobson 2007: 103, Morton 2007: 185, Squire 2012: 212).
Even if we might potentially be
a ‘torn Warning to bathers / By the torn waters.’ ‘Metamorphoses 5’ evokes a ‘sun-clouded marshworld and strewn sea’, and sunlight breaks through elsewhere as in ‘After Cumae’: ‘The sun again unearthed, colours come up fresh’. It is a blessing in ‘Orpheus and Eurydice’ where there is ‘the rare pale sun / To water our days’. In ‘Little Apocalypse’ though, the sun is less mild in its ‘primitive renewing fury’, and in ‘A Prayer to the Sun’ from King Log it is ‘our ravager’, though its blessing is sought ‘so that we sleep’. Later, in The Triumph of Love the
Stone’s film Platoon (1986), which portrays feuding
soldiers, loss of morale and the murder of civilians.
The three most distinguished Vietnam films of the 1970s,
Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976), Cimino’s The Deer
Hunter (1978) and Coppola’s Apocalypse Now
(1979), all communicated an aura of loss and bitterness, which was
inevitable perhaps after the war
Historical and cultural contexts
‘the apocalypse with irony’ (1992: 188). Beckett, deeply touched
by the nuclear age and its perception of future global crisis, is
aware that irony best expresses ‘the sense of an ending’ in this
culturally traumatic age that he shares with his contemporaries.
He suggests global trauma in his calculated, allegorical choice of
words and images that convey deep ironies. This chapter aims to
analyse and discuss how Beckett uses words and images to reveal
collective apocalyptic trauma and ironise it in his plays.
and sense that Graham cannot simultaneously master. Its literary symbolism might be suggested by D. H. Lawrence’s deployment of the horse in his fiction, such as Gerald Crich’s aggressive disciplining of his red mare in Chapter 9 of Women in Love , but is better explained in his non-fiction writings. 4 For example, Lawrence writes in his posthumously published meditation on the Book of Revelation, Apocalypse :
How the horse dominated the mind of the early races, especially of the Mediterranean! … And as a symbol he roams the dark